From how, where — and even when — we exercise to how we manage our stress and diet, COVID-19 and its multiple variants have necessitated we all make adaptations in our fitness and wellness routines.
But as we’ve also learned, the fitness industry is ever evolving to meet the needs of those of us determined to stay in shape in this brave new world.
So, as we embark on Year 3 of a global pandemic, let’s take a quick look at what experts believe will be some of the most prominent fitness trends in 2022.
Quality over quantity
There’s an old weight-training mantra that applies here: “Don’t count the reps — make the reps count.”
Now that so many people are working remotely full- or part-time, gone are the days when they had to set aside a one- or two-hour block of time to exercise.
Instead, two or three brisk five- to 15-minute sessions that have some component of endurance, strength-training, mobility and/or flexibility can add up over the day to really improve one’s fitness.
And really any activity — gardening, walking up and down the stairs with groceries, working around the house, etc. — can qualify as exercise if you do it vigorously enough.
A 2016 study in England found that a brisk 10-minute workout with just one minute of high-intensity training had the equivalent benefits of 45 minutes of steady cycling.
“I’m a huge fan of short workouts,” health and fitness coach Ariel Belgrave recently said on NBC’s “Today.” “A mantra I live by is ‘a workout is better than no workout. It’s not about how long you exercise, it’s about how hard you exercise.”
Hybrid gym memberships and smart home gyms
After gyms closed at the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020, we all missed going to them. But then many of us began to realize that there were other ways and places to exercise — namely, outdoors and/or in our own homes with virtual personal trainers.
And now that we’ve been exposed to these options, they’re not likely to go away anytime soon.
As fitness and retail analyst Randy Konik told CNBC, “People are going to realize they can work out at a gym three days a week, and then three or four days a week just do something at the house. It’s all about convenience.”
Indeed, that’s certainly why Belgrave told “Today” that hybrid gym memberships are on the rise as “many brick-and-mortar gyms are already finding that members have a preference for a hybrid experience of being able to attend classes in person and virtually.”
In terms of mixing both the in-person and virtual experience, Konik noted “what’s likely going to happen is demand for gyms will accelerate pretty dramatically but demand for [at-home] fitness equipment is likely to stay somewhat strong.”
And when folks do spend that money on at-home exercise equipment — be it yoga mats, adjustable dumbbells, resistance bands, jump ropes or more expensive machines like those from Peloton and NordicTrack — they’re making an investment in their own self-care, according to personal trainer Brady Dougherty.
As she told NBC’s TMRW, “The pandemic shined a light on how important it is to prioritize our health,” she said. “I think purchasing fitness equipment is another way to invest in our health just like we would go to an annual physical or get a massage.”
Wearable wellness technology
Fitness trackers have been around for awhile but they’re now exponentially more advanced.
James Shapiro, a sports performance coach at Sports Academy, recently told Bustle, “Whichever wearable tech you’re into, you’ve probably noticed updated versions this year that have included more information on your resting heart rate, heart rate variability, skin temperature, alerts if there’s an irregular heart rate, activity detection, and respiratory rate, just to name a few. Expect more people being interested in these metrics for more wellness monitoring rather than just logging in your calories from a recent workout.”
‘Gamification’ for a new generation of gymgoers
As the oldest members of Generation Z enter early adulthood and, presumably, purchase gym memberships, they’ll bring their sensibilities to the fitness world.
And experts believe that means they’ll want more activities that are fun and bring them joy.
Colette Dang is a personal trainer and owner of a New York City fitness studio that specializes in beat-based trampoline cardio and sculpting workouts with a digital platform. As she told Bustle, “As younger generations start to engage with the fitness industry and explore what wellness means to them, there is going to be a big shift to an intuitive movement and workout approach,” she says. “There will be less pressure on changing the body and using fitness as punishment in lieu of approaching a workout as a form of joy, grounding, and mental stability.”
A holistic approach
Many of today’s fitness influencers on social media are trying to get their followers to embrace the beauty in their own bodies and enjoy their fitness journeys rather than simply making their goal losing weight or transforming how they look.
Cassey Ho is a fitness influencer and creator of the Blogilates lifestyle space on Instagram. She recently told The Zoe Report, “If you’re too focused on the vanity of fitness (getting a bigger butt, a six pack, or thinner thighs) the experience becomes hollow. From personal experience, [I can say that] focusing too hard on physical achievements only can lead to body dysmorphia. It becomes a much more meaningful journey when you can shift your focus to finding the joy in your workout and finding the joy in making your healthy meals.”
In other words, forget the “no pain no gain” fitness mantra that baby boomers learned in the 1980s-90s.
Pursuing your fitness goals should be fun — and nourish your mind and soul as much as it does your body.