Do You Know the Top Fitness Trends for 2018?

It starts with the letter ‘F’ and you’ll probably be slipping it into your convos - in and out of the gym - on the regular in 2018.

Functional fitness — or training muscles to work together by simulating daily common movements, such as carrying groceries or even a child — is the top fitness trend for 2018, according to the results of canfitpro’s annual fitness trends survey.

High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) falls to second place, while older adult training climbs to third.

After being edged out by HIIT in 2017, “functional fitness is back at the number one spot as Canadians seek to build real-life movement into their fitness programs, and into their busy lifestyles," said canfitpro vice-president Nathalie Lacombe.

That’s good news for Dana Clark, the director of Sheddon Physiotherapy and Sports Clinic in Oakville, who says functional fitness has always been a hallmark of injury prevention.

The brain doesn't operate in single groups of muscles — it works in movement patterns which incorporate larger groups of muscles,” said Clark.

Functional fitness prepares the body for the demands of life and sport.”

By shifting a person away from machines and the single muscle group it targets, you add depth to the exercise, he added.

There’s “a remarkable number of people I see with weak cores - and as a result, poor functional form and pain or injury - from strictly using machines for strength training.”

Clark’s clients range from pro athletes to budding athletes to grandparents, and everyone in between.

Repetitive-type injuries are the most common.

Lack of functional training can also be linked to lower back injuries.

Developing poor postures from overtraining certain muscle groups has led to injuries such as hip flexor strains, shoulder impingement and knee joint injuries such as meniscal and ligament tears,” said Clark.

If you look at a cyclist or a runner who decides to use their sport for speed training or strength training, they are doing the same action over and over.”

In this sense, “functional training is not only about being stronger, it's about injury prevention,” he said.

Back to the survey.

Active recovery exercises, such as foam-rolling, mobility, low intensity, yin yoga, and branded group fitness (Barry’s Bootcamp, Orangetheory, Zumba) have made a debut in the top 10 this year.

Fusion-style group fitness, merging different types of workouts, such as Pixoling, ZEN*GA, and Strong by Zumba, returns to the list in 10th place.

As express workouts continue to rank in the top 10, personal trainers will likely offer shorter sessions and increase the number of sessions per week.

Here’s a detailed list of the top 10 Canadian fitness trends for 2018.


1) Functional Fitness (#2 in 2017; #1 in 2016)

Functional fitness climbs back to the #1 fitness trend expected in 2018. Using multiple muscle groups to strengthen in a holistic way (versus one specific muscle group at a time), functional fitness programs include practical, balance-challenging movements that simulate activities like shovelling snow, carrying groceries, or unloading the car. This focus helps prepare for the physical activities of daily life and counters the negative effects of a sedentary lifestyle.


2) High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) (#1 in 2017)

HIIT is a training methodology involving intense periods of exercise followed by durations of rest. This high-intensity approach is increasingly popular because it provides a good workout in a shorter time than steady-state cardio and because it works for all fitness levels. As Canadians work longer hours and try to maintain balance amidst a busy schedule, HIIT addresses that time crunch, burning fat and improving cardiovascular benefits quickly and effectively. An example of a HIIT workout is Jillian Michaels's BODYSHRED offered across Canada in partnership with canfitpro.


3) Older Adult Training (#6 in 2017)

Older adult training moved up three positions from number 6. This signals the growing demand from Baby Boomers looking to adopt healthier habits to maintain their health and quality of life into their 60s and beyond. Fitness professionals are taking specialized courses and certifications to learn how to train older adults safely and effectively. canfitpro’s Active Aging Certificate is an example of the type of education required to serve this market, while organizations like the International Council on Active Aging are working to build awareness and skills to support active older adults.


4) Active Recovery *Debut in 2018 Top 10

Recognizing that the ability to work out is limited by the ability to move, active recovery exercises focus on movement and self-care with foam rollers, balls and low-intensity workouts to name a few. If we can take care of ourselves and move as freely as possible, our everyday lives are better and training is enhanced.


5) Express Workouts (#4 in 2017)

Express workouts encourage participants to perform multiple exercises at a fast pace to generate maximum results. This is an effective approach for people on a tight schedule - perfect for lunch time or after work. Providing the ultimate convenience, an express workout typically lasts 20 minutes or less.


6) Branded Group Fitness *Debut in 2018 Top 10

Branded Fitness Programs are pre-choreographed programs offered by a company. Examples include Jillian Michaels's BODYSHRED, Les Mills International programs offered within GoodLife, Orangetheory classes, Barry’s Bootcamp, and a variety of others. When attending these programs people know what to expect and are able to choose a workout that they enjoy no matter where they are located. The brand awareness, efficacy, and convenience of these workouts are very attractive features to their devoted fans.


7) Circuit Training and Boot Camps (#6 in 2017)

Circuit training involves a series of exercises performed in rotation with minimal rest. The goal is to build strength while burning maximum calories. A fitness boot camp mixes traditional callisthenic and body weight exercises with interval training and strength training. Both types of workouts are designed to push participants harder than they would normally push themselves. Both are low-cost, efficient and challenging, combining strength and aerobic conditioning to generate positive results.


8) Nutrition and Healthy Eating Programs (#5 in 2017)

Combining exercise with healthy eating is the best approach to see the results of your efforts sooner — whether it’s weight loss or advancing your overall fitness level. More Canadian fitness professionals are taking additional training to improve their nutrition expertise, including canfitpro’s Healthy Eating & Weight Loss Coach certification and Tosca Reno's Eat-Clean Foundations, powered by canfitpro.


9) Body Weight Training (#9 in 2017)

Using your own body weight to create resistance is a growing workout trend among Canadian fitness professionals and consumers. This form of exercise builds strength and muscle and burns fat without the need for equipment, making it easy to get started and less intimidating for beginners. Enabling people to use their own body weight while doing movements like lunges, push-ups and pull-ups makes training anywhere possible.


10) Fusion-style Group Fitness (returns to the Top 10 in 2018; was #7 in 2016)

New types of group fitness classes and workouts that combine disciplines — like yoga and cycling or Pilates and boxing — are springing up across Canada. Mixing totally different types of exercise to create a new workout provides variety and something new. Changing up what we do helps develop more strength, agility, balance and coordination than a single exercise discipline.

(Source: canfitpro)

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