Every year for the past seven, the American College of Sports Medicine has received plenty of coverage, both in print and on the web, for its annual survey of fitness trends for the New Year.
I’m among those who write about the survey, in part, because it’s the only one of its kind.
Top 20 fitness trends of 2013
1. Hiring educated, certified and experienced fitness professionals
2. Strength training
3. Body-weight training
4. Programming to prevent childhood obesity
5. Weight loss programs with exercise component
6. Programming for seniors
7. Personal training
8. Functional fitness
9. Core training
10. Group personal training
11. Work site health promotion
12. Zumba, other dance workouts
13. Outdoor activities
15. Worker incentive programs
16. Boot camps
17. Outcome measurements
18. Circuit training
19. Reaching new markets
20. Wellness coaching
SOURCE: American College of Sports Medicine’s Worldwide Survey of Fitness Trends, 2013.
And yet I have a major qualm with the survey. It seems to serve the interests of personal trainers and the certification industry.
This year’s survey is based on the opinions of 3,346 “international health professionals” and surprise, surprise, the No. 1 “trend” this year, as it has been for the last six, is demand for “educated, certified and experienced fitness professionals.”
To a degree, that’s true.
The New York Times did a fascinating piece, “A Jobs Boom Built on Sweat in an Age of Belt-Tightening,” on June 30 on the boom in the numbers of personal trainers in the past decade: a 44 percent increase to 231,500, from 2001 to 2011, according to the Labor Department.
But personal trainers as the top trend for six years?
That aside, the survey has value in little nuggets and threads that I see to varying degrees in Charleston’s fitness community.
For example, while “group personal training” comes in 10th, I see continued popularity in people working out in groups, whether in one of the more than a dozen CrossFit “boxes” in the area to jam-packed classes in conventional gyms and studios, such as Charleston RIDE Spinning studios.
Programming to prevent childhood obesity (No. 4), such as efforts by Charleston County School District’s Wellness Committees, Charleston Tri-County Eat Smart Move More, Chucktown Squash and Louie’s Kids, show continued promise for the future health of our community.
At No. 5, “weight loss programs with an exercise component,” comes in as the Medical University of South Carolina Wellness Center’s Healthy Charleston Challenge celebrated a total of 20,000 pounds of weight loss in 10 sessions over the past five years.
Much like other broad brush strokes, the international survey can’t match what’s happening in local communities. While indoor cycling, known usually by the trade name of Spinning, fell out of the Top 20, I probably could make a case for it being in the Top 10 in Charleston.
Likewise, while yoga ranks 14th, I know very few active females who haven’t participated in at least a few sessions in the past year. Other activities that don’t involve a trainer or a facility also never get listed on the Top 20.
This year, however, a vague “outdoor activities” came in at No. 13, up from 27th in 2011. ACSM described the category as “activities (that) can be done with family and with friends, with a group or by yourself ... such as hiking, canoeing, kayaking, and games or sports.”
One of the reasons Charleston is emerging as a fitness hub is its outdoor activities from massive road races such as the Cooper River Bridge Run, Turkey Day Run and Race for the Cure to paddleboard races, surfing contests and the growing presence of cyclists on the roadways.
It’s great to live in a town where exercise, both indoors and out, is a priority.
Now take advantage of it.
Reach David Quick at 937-5516.