Top Trends in Fitness and What Event Planners Can Learn from Them | Sports Destination Management

Top Trends in Fitness and What Event Planners Can Learn from Them

Nov 18, 2015 | By: Mary Helen Sprecher

The closest thing the sports planning industry has to a big crystal ball – the one that just might tell us what sports and what activity trends are going to be popular in the coming year – is here again. It’s the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) Worldwide Survey of Fitness Trends for 2016, and savvy professionals can use it to gain a number of insights.

Among the trends forecast for the coming year are a few that can affect sports events, both directly and indirectly.

Wearable Technology: Not exactly a shock: the use of wearables, already in the outer stratosphere, business-wise, is expected to skyrocket.

Takeaway for sports event planners: Reminders, not just to athletes but to spectators and parents, letting them know the event is a great way to use their devices, and that they’ll be able to get their required steps in. Maybe sponsor a ‘step-number-contest’ for each day, or for the overall event.

Strength Training: Something that has remained popular through the years is the gym staple of strength training.

Sports event planners should know: This may be parlayed into more interest in weightlifting or powerlifting events or even fitness competitions.

Educated, Certified and Experienced Fitness Professionals: Many gyms require certification of their personal training staff, and the industry has responded, offering educational programs. Another big trend is Personal Training.

How sports event planners can use this knowledge: Many facilities now keep sports trainers on staff, or offer them for sports events. Event planners may gain extra peace of mind knowing there is someone to provide guidance on various stretching- or training-related matters.

Fitness Programs for Older Adults: Fact - Baby boomers are driving huge segments of the sports event marketplace. The 50 and up demographic has a good amount of disposable income and they love to travel.

Sports event planners can see: Senior games programs are growing in popularity since they offer a great opportunity to compete, socialize and have fun. The more events that begin to offer age divisional competition and opportunities tailored to their mindset, the more profitable those events are.

Outdoor Activities: The ACSM survey cited outdoor sports activities as some of the fastest-growing trends. Examples provided in the survey included hiking, canoeing, kayaking, and games or sports played outside.

What sports event planners can use: Outdoor activities will only continue to grow, so harnessing their power is a must. Fishing events are a case in point, although others, such as obstacle racing, mountain biking, adventure racing and triathlons will also be good bets for strong participation and positive economic impact.

This is the tenth year ACSM has compiled this survey. During the last 10 years, the editors of ACSM’s Health & Fitness Journal® have disseminated this electronic survey to thousands of professionals worldwide to determine health and fitness trends. Because this was a survey of trends, respondents were asked to first make the very important distinction between a “fad” and a “trend:”

Trend: “a general development or change in a situation or in the way that people are behaving” (

Fad: “a fashion that is taken up with great enthusiasm for a brief period” (

Information on ACSM and its work is available here.

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