Top 10 Fitness Trends For 2016

The annual survey of worldwide fitness trends is now in its 10th year, and this time with some very surprising results.

In 2014, high-intensity interval training took over the no. 1 spot that was previously held by educated, certified, and experienced fitness professionals, HIIT held that position since 2008 and now appears at no. 5.

Body weight training took over the no. 1 spot for 2015 but fell to no. 2 in 2016 behind newcomer wearable technology.

The 2016 ACSM (American College of Sports Medicine) Worldwide Survey of Fitness Trends continues to support previous trends, with two additional trends appearing in the top 20: flexibility and mobility rollers and smart phone exercise apps.

Wearable technology


Introduced just a few years ago, wearable technology includes fitness trackers, smart watches, heart rate monitors, and GPS tracking devices. Examples include fitness and activity trackers like those from Misfit, Garmin, Jawbone, and Fitbit. The newly released Apple Watch® is another example.

Body weight training


For the first time in the trends survey since 2013 (at no. 3) came body weight training, it had taken over the top spot from last year’s first-time entry, high-intensity interval training.

Body weight training did not appear as an option before 2013 because it only became popular (as a defined trend) in gyms around the world during the last couple of years. This doesn’t mean that body weight training had not been used previously; in fact, people have been using their own body weight for centuries as a form of resistance training.

High-intensity interval training


Falling from the top spot in the 2015 survey, high-intensity interval training (HIIT) typically involves short bursts of high-intensity exercise followed by a short period of rest or recovery and typically takes less than 30 minutes to perform.

While being offered as a possible trend in previous surveys but not making the top 20, HIIT was no. 1 in the survey for 2014, despite the warnings of many survey respondents about potential dangers.

Strength training


Strength training remains popular in all sectors of the health and fitness industry and for many different kinds of clients. Strength training dropped to no. 4 in last year’s survey and stays in that position for 2016 after being at the no. 2 position for 2 years. Strength training has always been included in the survey.

Educated, certified, and experienced fitness professionals


Falling to no. 3 last year and to no. 5 this year, this is a trend that continues now that there are accreditations offered by national third-party accrediting organizations for health and fitness and clinical exercise program professionals.

Personal training


Personal trainers are employed by community-based programs, in commercial settings, in corporate wellness programs, medical fitness programs, or are self-employed and work independently.

Functional fitness


Replicating actual physical activities someone might do as a function of his or her daily routine, functional fitness is defined as using strength training to improve balance, coordination, force, power, and endurance to enhance someone’s ability to perform activities of daily living.

Fitness programs for older adults


Health and fitness professionals should take advantage of this growing market by providing age-appropriate and safe exercise programs for the aging sector of the population.

The highly active older adult (the athletic old) can be targeted by commercial and community-based organizations to participate in more rigorous exercise programs including strength training and team sports.

Exercise and weight loss


The combination of exercise and weight loss is a trend toward using weight loss programs that emphasize eating smart combined with a doable exercise program. Exercise in weight loss programs has been a trend since the survey began.



Moving slightly down the list for 2016 is yoga after occupying the no. 7 spot last year. Yoga comes in a variety of forms, including Power Yoga, Yogalates, and Bikram Yoga (the one done in hot and humid environments). Other forms of yoga include Iyengar Yoga, Ashtanga, Vinyasa Yoga, Kripalu Yoga, Anuara Yoga, Kundalini Yoga, and Sivananda Yoga.

There are actually 20 trends listed, but these are the top 10. So, if you have made fitness one of your priorities for 2016, consider this…

  • Not everyone will respond the same to certain exercise.
  • Determine what your goals are and choose your plans accordingly.
  • Diet plays a huge role in the success of your goals.
  • It doesn’t happen overnight. Persistence, motivation and dedication are key.
  • Have fun!






Rocco Marinelli

Rocco is the VP here at QuirkyByte, and he has been writing since he could hold a crayon. He is a huge fan of music, nature, the arts and anything unique, or creative. Physical fitness is also a passion for him. Currently Rocco resides in upstate New York.
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