Demand for Trainers Tops 2011 Fitness Trends


INDIANAPOLIS -- A growing demand for properly certified and educated personal trainers is the top fitness trend for 2011, according to a worldwide survey of fitness professionals by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM).

This is the fourth year that the demand for trainers has been at the top of the list in the annual survey, published in the November/December issue of ACSM’s Health & Fitness Journal. The 2,200 fitness professionals who returned completed surveys ranked 31 potential trends, which were then tabulated by ACSM to create the top 20 trend list.

“As the market in this sluggish economy becomes even more crowded and competitive, the need for regulation, either from within the industry or from external sources, is growing,” Walter R. Thompson, lead author of the survey and a fellow of ACSM, said in a release from ACSM, a certifying organization. “For example, a number of states and the District of Columbia are considering legislation to regulate personal trainers just as it does physicians, lawyers and pharmacists.”

This is the first year in several years that Pilates fell off the top 20 list. It had been ranked ninth in the 2010 trends list. Balance training and stability balls also fell off the list.

New trends on the list include worker incentive programs, clinical integration and reaching new markets.

“Interest in medical fitness, worker incentive programs, and worksite wellness programs may be a direct result of health care reform measures and Exercise is Medicine,” Thompson said. “With an estimated 80 percent of Americans not having a regular exercise program or a place to exercise, health and fitness professionals must search for new ways to deliver their services to people who need them.”

The top 10 fitness trends predicted for 2011 are:

1. Educated and experienced fitness professionals.

2. Fitness programs for older adults. The Baby Boomer generation is aging into retirement, some of them with more discretionary money than their younger counterparts. Many health and fitness professionals are creating age-appropriate fitness programs to keep older adults healthy and active.

3. Strength training. Strength training remains a central emphasis for many health club operators.

4. Children and obesity. Fitness professionals see the childhood obesity epidemic as an opportunity to create programs tailored to overweight and obese children.

5. Personal training. More and more students are majoring in kinesiology, which indicates that students are preparing themselves for careers in allied health fields, such as personal training. Education, training and proper credentialing for personal trainers have become increasingly important to the health and fitness facilities that employ them.

6. Core training. Distinct from strength training, core training specifically emphasizes conditioning of the middle-body muscles, including the pelvis, lower back, hips and abdomen—all of which provide needed support for the spine.

7. Exercise and weight loss. Health and fitness professionals who provide weight loss programs are increasingly incorporating regular exercise and caloric restriction for better weight control in their clients.

8. Boot camps. Boot camps are high-intensity structured activity programs modeled after military-style training and led by an instructor. Boot camps incorporate cardiovascular, strength, endurance and flexibility drills in both indoor and outdoor settings.

9. Functional fitness. This is a trend toward using strength training to improve balance and ease of daily living. Functional fitness and special fitness programs for older adults are closely related.

10. Physician referrals. Physician referrals, a key component of the Exercise is Medicine initiative, partner medical professionals with health and fitness professionals to seamlessly integrate exercise into their patients’ lives.

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