Health & Wellbeing

14 fitness trends you don’t want to miss in 2017

Group of people of different ages doing yoga poses

As the year ends, it’s safe to say that 2016 has been full of surprises. In amidst of all the political uncertainty, what we are sure of is the growth of the health, fitness and wellbeing industries.

We predict that 2017 will be even more successful for these industries. A brand-new year brings innovative ideas and thrusts upon us a fresh batch of trends to try (and promptly forget.) This article is the first in a two-part series where we explore what will dominate the health, fitness and wellbeing industries over the next 12 months. 

How does one begin to explore the health, fitness and wellbeing trends of 2017? The first port of call is the holy grail of health and fitness trends, otherwise known as Walter Thompson’s Worldwide Survey of Fitness Trends for 2017. Every year, the editors of ACSM’s Health & Fitness Journal distribute a survey to thousands of fitness professionals around the globe to determine the health and fitness trends for the upcoming year.  

Without further ado, let’s explore which fitness trends are going to be popular in 2017.

Wearable technology

Once again Thompson’s survey put wearable technology top of the list. Popular items of wearable tech include watches and apps that track movements, monitor heart rate and log exercise. 

However, a study found that while participants wearing a Fitbit watch did have improved levels of physical activity, recording an average of an additional 16 minutes of MVPA per week than they did at the start of the trial, the authors of the study said that this increase was “Not enough to generate noticeable improvements in any health outcomes”.

Outcome measurements

The proliferation of wearable technology and apps has brought us nicely to our next trend, outcome measurements. Wearables have accelerated the desire to measure and track the effectiveness of health and fitness programmes. By providing in-depth data and measuring on-going progress, individuals can determine whether their programmes are working. As we like to say, if you don’t measure it, you can’t improve it!

Bodyweight training 

Once again, bodyweight training appears on the list as one of their biggest fitness trends for 2017. Bodyweight training has soared in popularity because it’s so accessible and there is a lower risk of injury compared to using free weights. This means it is perfect for beginners, older adults and children.

Fitness programmes for children 

We have reached a critical point where something must be done to reduce childhood obesity and inactivity. Today’s generation of children are the least active of all, recent NHS England 2015 figures show that 1 in 5 children don’t do any PE at school each week and 1 in 3 children leave primary school overweight or obese. 

We predict that school PE programmes will become more robust and include greater measures to track and monitor how each child is progressing in a fun and friendly way. 


High-intensity-interval-training or HIIT was on 2016’s list and the trend has increased in popularity all over the world. People are drawn to the quick bursts of exercise because its efficient and easily fits into a busy schedule. You can do HIIT with any equipment, or even using bodyweight, and if done correctly a workout can be over in 20-30 minutes.

Strength training

In general, people are moving away from cardiovascular exercises and focusing on building or maintaining their strength using free weights or bodyweight. Thompson’s survey said “It is not uncommon for cardiovascular and pulmonary rehabilitation or metabolic disease management programmes to include weight training in the exercise programs for their patients.”

Fitness programmes for older adults

There is a critical need for exercise programmes designed specifically for older adults (aged 50-70). 33% of older adults aged 65 fall every year, and this figure increases to 50% at the age of 80. There is good evidence that physical activity programmes which emphasise balance training, limb co-ordination, muscle strengthening and are tailored to the individual are safe and effective in reducing the risk of falls amongst older adults. 

In the next year, we predict that there will be more activity programmes that are specifically focused on building the strength, balance, co-ordination and flexibility of older adults. Professor Dame Sally Davies, chief medical officer for England said: “People are living longer than ever and so retirement presents a real opportunity for Baby Boomers to be more active than ever before.”

Online Physiotherapy 

Chris Kennelly is the CEO of JimJam, a company that matches patients with professional physiotherapists remotely.  He commented on the role of remote physiotherapy:

“It takes an average of 12 weeks to see a physiotherapist on the NHS.  And yet, if you have a musculoskeletal problem then time is of the essence - addressing a problem as soon as possible is crucial to help prevent an acute injury from becoming long-term and chronic. 

“The most effective aspect of physiotherapy is diagnosis by a qualified physio, coupled with advice and a personalised exercise prescription.  This form of rehabilitation can clearly be delivered remotely [through teleconferencing.] The result of this will be patients get access to healthcare professionals when they clinically require it and not when it is scheduled, whilst also reducing demand on the system through eliminating unnecessary activity.”

Personalised programmes

Consumers are becoming conscious of the activity programmes they are following and understanding that fitness isn’t ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach. In 2017, people will be on the lookout for personalised fitness and health programmes that are specifically designed for their individual needs. 

IMAX shift

Immersive fitness experiences have always been popular, but IMAX Shift takes it to the next level. By using full IMAX cinema screens, fitness enthusiasts are made to feel like they are cycling or running in some of the world’s most amazing locations. 

Educated and certified PTs

As the market for fitness professionals becomes even more competitive, a degree of regulation (either from within the industry or from external sources) is becoming increasingly important. Consumers are looking for fitness programmes that have been designed and tested by fully qualified and certified personal trainers to ensure that the programmes will be effective.

Group training

Group training sessions are highly motivational for hard-to-reach groups of people, such as older adults and children. 

Research commissioned by the Associated Retirement Community Operators (ARCO) found that nearly a quarter of older adults said they would be more likely to attend a nearby gym facility or classes if they had someone to go with. These numbers increased to nearly one in three in over 65s who live alone. By making group exercises specifically for older adults and children, we can encourage a greater number of people to be active, while encouraging social interaction and enjoyment. 

Functional fitness

Functional fitness is strength training that replicates the physical activities that you do as part of living, such as climbing stairs, picking up objects and bending over. Functional fitness is commonly used in fitness programmes for older adults or for rehabilitation to promote stronger muscle mass and bone density and therefore to reduce the risk of falls, however it is rising in popularity in gyms across the world. 

What do we think about the fitness trends for 2017?

Overall, 2017 looks like it will address the need for more prescriptive activity programmes for harder-to-reach-groups of people such as older adults and children. We have already been focusing on both sectors here at Amaven and we will continue to increase our efforts in the New Year to help as many people as possible to become more active. 

In the meantime, keep your eyes peeled for our final instalment on the blog where we will be discussing the health and wellbeing trends to look out for in 2017. Take a look at last year’s health and fitness trends to see what’s changed.