The Top 9 Fitness Trends on the Horizon in 2021

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If the year 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that our health takes priority.

In addition to the many societal changes of last year, the way we exercise has changed, too. With more people staying at home without access to gyms, the fitness landscape has transformed dramatically.

With 2021 upon us, we can expect to see even more changes to fitness culture. Industry experts are predicting massive shifts, so you may wonder what this year has in store.

Here are the top 9 fitness trends predicted for 2021.

With gym restrictions in place for the foreseeable future, consumers are expected to continue to invest in at-home fitness experiences.

1. Home gyms

According to a recent poll of 2,000 people by OnePoll, 75% of people believe it’s easier to stay fit at home. Since the COVID-19 pandemic began in early 2020, 64% of respondents stated that they’re more interested in at-home exercise than ever before.

As the uncertainty of the pandemic continues into 2021, it’s anticipated that most people will stick with at-home workouts, dedicating living space to personalized home gyms.

Notably, you can get in a good workout without needing to buy expensive equipment. The average American spent $95.79 on home gym equipment during quarantine — considerably less than a gym membership.

With a pair of dumbbells and exercise bands, you can make getting in shape accessible and affordable.

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2. Apps for minimal-equipment exercise

Though using a home gym works for some people, many don’t have enough space. What’s more, it’s possible to get in a good workout without spending a penny.

Going forward, expect to see more people utilizing free YouTube videos and exercise apps to guide them through workouts. Many of these exercises require minimal or no equipment and use your body weight for resistance.

Free exercise apps include:

  • Asana Rebel
    • This app provides fitness, nutrition, and wellness tips and advice at no cost, though a pro version is available for purchase.
  • Nike Training Club
    • With almost 200 workouts to choose from, this app is the perfect solution for those looking for a good workout with minimal to no equipment required.
  • Nike Run Club
    • This training app is designed for those looking to step up their running game. Providing distance challenges, daily motivation, GPS tracking, and customized coaching plans, it’s perfect for beginner to intermediate runners.
  • Daily Yoga
    • This app provides hundreds of yoga poses and classes for all fitness levels. For a fee, you can upgrade to a pro version.
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3. Luxe indoor gyms

Gym and boutique fitness studio closures during the pandemic led to a surge in sales of high-end workout equipment.

In fact, the treadmill and stationary bike company Peloton experienced a 232% increase in sales during the first quarter of 2020. Though these exercise machines require an initial investment, they’re hugely popular and highly rated.

Affluent customers are expected to create customized, fully equipped home gyms replete with items like high-end treadmills, stationary bikes, row machines, and workout mirrors.

High-end workout equipment and smart gyms include:

  • Peloton Bike and Peloton Bike+
    • Peloton bikes offer a wide range of features, such as built-in speakers and an HD touchscreen with thousands of interactive classes.
  • The Mirror
    • This smart gym is a screen that functions as a personal trainer while it’s in use and a stylish mirror when it’s off. It boasts an array of workouts, including tai chi, yoga, boxing, and targeted strength training.
  • Tonal
    • This digital weight system features built-in resistance up to 200 pounds (90 kg), using electromagnetic resistance to give you a powerful workout without the need for weights.
  • Bowflex Xtreme 2 SE Home Gym
    • This all-in-one gym allows for over 70 unique exercises. Since it contains multiple sources of resistance and various handles, you can target all areas of your body.
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Due to a surge in interest in whole-body health, many people are approaching fitness as one piece of a larger health puzzle rather than a way to simply gain strength. To that end, they’re balancing exercise with restorative activities like sleep and meditation.

4. Recovery

As people become savvier about workouts, they’re using post-workout time to recover faster and enhance performance. Access to top-of-the-line recovery tools once reserved for professional athletes and physical therapists are making their way into homes.

Sales of products that soothe sore or tight muscles, improve circulation, and increase relaxation are expected to increase in 2021, just as they did the year prior.

Furthermore, people are increasingly focused on whole-body wellness, which involves treating all aspects of health, such as exercise, nutrition, sleep, stress, and mindfulness.

As such, they’ll be looking for products, apps, and tools to help them track their progress, sleep better, and improve overall well-being.

Holistic recovery products and equipment include:

  • Theragun
    • This deep tissue massage tool is designed to ease tension, enhance recovery, and soothe soreness and discomfort.
  • Withings Sleep Mat
    • This mat, which is placed atop your mattress, offers sleep cycle analysis, heart rate monitoring, and even data on your snoring habits.
  • Recoup Cryosphere
    • This two-in-one massage and ice pack roller claims to soothe sore muscles and joints, increase blood and lymphatic circulation, and support injury recovery.
  • Hyperice Vyper 2.0 Vibrating Foam Roller
    • This vibrating foam roller provides deep tissue activation to relax muscles, increase circulation, and aid myofascial tissue release.
  • HigherDose Infrared Sauna Blanket
    • This thermal blanket slightly increases your body’s internal temperature to promote blood flow and recovery.
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5. Wearable devices

Wearable devices have soared in popularity over the past decade. In fact, it’s predicted that by 2022 over 900 million people will wear these devices. By 2025, the industry is expected to be worth over $70 billion.

People will rely on these devices to provide detailed information about their health, sleep habits, and recovery, alongside personalized recommendations.

Wearable devices include:

  • Whoop Recovery Strap
    • A wearable device that provides fitness, sleep, and recovery data to enhance your athletic performance.
  • Oura Ring
    • The Oura Ring is a sleep tracker worn on your finger. It provides 24/7 insights into your sleep, activity, and recovery habits.
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6. Mind-body connection

Over the course of the pandemic, people have become interested in combining exercise and mental relaxation to relieve stress. Fitness enthusiasts are looking for ways to promote physical and mental well-being in unison rather than as two separate activities.

Thus, yoga, pilates, and other mind-body activities are gaining popularity and expected to become a $66 billion industry by 2027. This figure includes in-person and virtual classes, equipment, and apparel.

There’s also a growing push for more intentional exercise, with focus placed on form and muscle activation instead of mindlessly going through the motions of a workout. These changes may improve workout quality and keep your mind focused on the task at hand (1).

If you can’t attend in-person classes, you can easily find free yoga videos online or pay for a subscription.

Mindfulness and yoga apps and products include:

  • Alo Moves
    • This virtual yoga subscription gives you unlimited access to daily yoga, meditation, and wellness training.
  • Yoga Workouts by Daily Burn
    • This yoga app provides a personalized yoga schedule and routine based on your unique goals and experience level.
  • Pilates Anytime
    • This monthly subscription grants access to over 3,000 at-home pilates workouts.
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Virtual fitness has surged in popularity as entire populations are now stuck at home. From platforms that allow athletes to train and compete in a virtual world to video games that get you moving and socializing, there are options for everyone.

7. Virtual training

Though physical or social distancing will be in place throughout 2021 in numerous locations, athletes are finding new ways to train and stay competitive. These include options from digital at-home cycling programs to online workout communities.

Users can log in to live or prerecorded workouts taught by real trainers and share their progress with peers. This industry is forecasted to be worth $30 billion by 2026.

Virtual training apps include:

  • Equinox Variis
    • This all-in-one app grants access to leading fitness platforms, such as SoulCycle, Equinox, Pure Yoga, and Precision Run.
  • Tone & Sculpt
    • This training app provides customizable weekly workout plans and nutrition guidance to help you reach your fitness goals.
  • Zwift
    • This at-home cycling platform brings the cycling community to you. You can ride through simulated courses, play games, and compete with others.
  • VirZoom
    • This virtual reality (VR) training app immerses you in cycling courses that take you across the globe, such as the Dolomite Mountains in Italy, Bealach na Bà in Scotland, and Shimanami Kaido in Japan.
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8. Active video games

Though training apps are popular, the video game industry is also incorporating fitness into their games by using body movement as the main controller.

You can play by yourself, with friends, or strangers online to get in a fun workout.

Active video games include:

  • Nintendo Ring Fit
    • As part of the Switch console, the Nintendo Ring Fit is an interactive game with an exercise wheel. You hold the wheel in front of you and follow the movements on-screen for a great full-body workout.
  • Just Dance 2021
    • The Just Dance series is a popular, time-honored game that allows you to dance, have fun, and get in a good workout.
  • Black Box Virtual Reality Fitness
    • This VR game uses your body as the controller to get in a solid workout. Though currently only available at Black Box gyms, this company and others are expected to bring VR training to your home in the near future.
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Staying indoors for most of 2020 and into the new year has been a difficult feat for most of us. Depending on where you live, you may have been allowed to go outside and get some much-needed activity.

One 2020 trend that’s expected to continue are sports that naturally lend themselves to social distancing, such as golf, outdoor cycling, and surfing.

According to figures from Golf Datatech, the number of rounds played in August 2020 was up 20.6% from the year prior. Outdoor cycling has enjoyed a similar surge, with bicycle sales up 121%.

Surfing has gained traction along the East and West Coasts of the United States as a physically and mentally demanding sport. As such, these solo sports may continue to grow post-pandemic as a way to get outside while still practicing physical distancing.

In 2021 you can expect to see a huge shift in the fitness industry.

With ever-changing technology, the fitness industry is expected to keep up with the times and provide a more personalized approach to fitness and health.

From at-home workouts to virtual training and health monitoring, 2021 promises to make fitness more accessible and enjoyable for all.