It’s not often planners and destinations are handed a road map of what sports are going to be big in the coming year. The American College of Sports Medicine, however, has done just that, presenting its Worldwide Fitness Trends for 2018.
Bonus round: It’s a treasure trove of ideas for new revenue streams – for those who care to look.
The centerpiece of the 19-page report published in ACSM’s Health & Fitness Journal is a top-20 list of fitness trends. And by the way, a trend differs from a fad in that a trend is a general change in the way people are behaving, and a fad is a fashion that is taken up with great enthusiasm – but only for a short time.
The top-20 list includes forms of exercise, such as high-intensity interval training, as well as behaviors of those involved in fitness, including reliance on licensed, skilled personal trainers. But beyond that are some predictions that planners should note:
Strength Training and Circuit Training: No, they’re not the same, but the prevalence of these two as fitness trends (number 5 and number 17 on the list, respectively) feed into the larger world of strength competitions, put on by USA Powerlifting and USA Weightlifting, as well as various commercial strength competitions sponsored by gyms, products and other vendors. Bonus: weightlifting is growing at the high school level as well.
Yoga: We’ve already started to see yoga expos, retreats, conferences and more – and more recently, we began to see competitions. The 2016 USA Yoga Asana Championships, for example, were held in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Count on this trend (number 7 on the list) to continue to grow among both men and women.
Fitness Programs for Older Adults: Hello there, pickleball. You’re probably one of the top sports for this category, rated number 9 in the survey. But nationwide, in all sports, the over-50 age group is creating off-the-charts participation and sports travel trends. It’s the reason events like the National Senior Games (most recently held in Birmingham, Alabama) are posting excellent numbers as are plenty of other activities that host competitions across the U.S. such as US Masters Swimming.
Functional Fitness Programs: This one, at number 10, is an interesting trend. While the trademarked term of CrossFit might be the one that comes to mind first, functional fitness programs in general are gaining participants and CrossFit boxes (the term for functional fitness-specific gyms) are proliferating across the country. Competitions in this sport are also picking up speed. The CrossFit Games, for example, is an example of an event that has grown steadily every year. The Granite Games, held in Minnesota each fall, are also increasing in participation.
Outdoor Activities: While hiking, canoeing, kayaking and so on might first come to mind here, outdoor sports competitions (where, according to the Outdoor Foundation’s research report, participation is increasing) are on an upward trajectory as well. Outdoor activities also can include high adventure programs like overnight camping trips and mountain climbing, adventure racing, orienteering, trail running, mountain biking, BMX, fatbike and more. Currently ranked at number 14, it’s a trend we can expect to see grow – and both planners and destinations should be ready to seek out such events.
Sport-Specific Training: At first glance, number 20 on the list doesn’t appear to have anything to do with competitions and destinations. But savvy planners and destination reps who incorporate programs like Cardio Tennis, for example, or Healthy Golf, prior to an event can see more spectator buy-in, increased media interest and a new revenue stream. Enlarging upon this, it’s easy to think about hosting clinics for an array of activities, including baseball, basketball, soccer, pickleball, cheer, running and more. Don’t miss this opportunity to bring even more attention to an existing event.
The entire report from ACSM can be downloaded free of charge from SDM’s website here.