The #1 Fitness Trend in 2016 (And What’s Missing From The List)

Since 2006, The American College of Sports Medicine has released an annual survey of the top 20 fitness trends to look out for in the upcoming year. 2016’s survey saw some regulars drop off the list completely and some newcomers surge to the top.

The “back to basics” philosophy previously driven by the weak economy seems to be fading as more costly fitness technology is becoming a billion dollar industry. 

The Top Spots

#1: Wearable Technology

With our reliance on technology every-increasing, it is no surprise to see wearable technology steal the #1 spot for 2016, beating out the previous front runners, body weight training and high intensity interval training. Wearable technology includes fitness trackers, heart rate monitors and smart watches. These products are able to provide immediate feedback to better motivate, keep us on track and help achieve our health goals.

#2: Body Weight Training

Using minimal equipment, body weight training can easily be done anywhere and within any budget. First appearing on the list in 2013, this held the top spot in 2015. This is still a trend fitness professional say is not going away any time soon and will continue to be incorporated into many fitness programs.

#3: High Intensity Interval Training

Holding the #1 spot in 2014, HIIT is still going strong at #3. HIIT involves short bursts of high intensity exercise followed by short periods of rest/recovery. These types of workouts are typically accomplished in 30 minutes or less, which is a big draw for many.

It is worth noting that this year’s survey found that many professional would find their clients to prefer this style of training at first, but after time, they would lose interest or become concerned with the high risk of injury. Perhaps this is why the popularity of high intensity training has begun to steadily decline.

Other Noteworthy Trends for 2016

Flexibility and Mobility Rollers (#16)

A newcomer to the top 20 this year was flexibility and mobility rollers, at #16. The continued popularity of strength training and high intensity programming could explain the increased need for this.

Foam rollers are used to massage, relieve muscle soreness, improve recovery time and increase circulation. They are made of varying materials, depending on if you are aiming for deep tissue work, myofascial release or trigger point therapy.

Yoga (#10)

Yoga drops from #7 last year to round out the top 10 for 2016. While it has dropped a bit on the list, it is clear that yoga is not going anywhere and is a trend we can expect to see in the top 20 for years to come. Yoga builds strength in the body and the mind and that is something men and women alike have grown to appreciate over the recent years.

Wellness Coaching (#13)

Wellness coaching continues to climb the list since it’s first top 20 appearance in 2010. Trainers and other health and fitness professionals are adopting wellness coaching into their practices. This includes integrating behavioral changes into their health and fitness programs, focusing on a client’s values, needs, vision and goals.

What’s Out For 2016?

Childhood Weight Loss Programs

Sadly, exercise programs aimed at children and weight loss have dropped off the top 20 this year. With a top 5 showing years 2007-2013, these child-specific programs began dropping in rank in 2014 and did not make the list at all this year. Childhood and adolescent obesity is still a major health issue that needs to be addressed, as it can lead to a lifetime of health problems, but it does not appear to be trending well in the industry as of late.


Bootcamp is another trend that has fallen off the radar this year. It could relate to the improving economy or the growing trend of being a bit gentler on the body (foam rolling, yoga, etc.) For whatever reason, the once very popular bootcamp seems to be a trend of the past at this point.

For the complete list of top fitness trends for 2016, check out ACSM’s annual survey.


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  • Reply Lauren January 3, 2016 at 10:13 am

    So sad to see kids fitness isn’t a top priority like it should be. Childhood obesity is on the rise and it doesn’t seem like anyone is doing anything about it.

    • Reply Sandy January 3, 2016 at 6:01 pm

      I agree, Lauren. I hope people start to realize the importance of developing healthy habits early on in life sooner than later. Childhood obesity is definitely a major issue in this country and it’s sad to see it is not getting the attention it deserves.

  • Reply T.S. January 6, 2016 at 1:04 pm

    I got a foam roller about a year ago and that thing is my new best friend! It is a lifesaver after a tough workout!

    • Reply Sandy January 7, 2016 at 9:14 am

      I am addicted! My husband and I will even pack it in our suitcase when we travel.

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