Top 15 Fitness Trends in 2018 – Best Exercises to Get Fit This New Year

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If there is one thing I generally try and steer people away from, it’s fad diets and trendy fitness plans. And while there are a lot of interesting and useful fitness trends in 2018, exercise is never a one-size-fits-all approach. Many of the top fitness trends in 2018 have seen bubbling in the past couple of years.

For example, high-intensity interval training (HIIT) and group classes like Orange Theory or CrossFit have their benefits but are not suitable for the general population. There are potential dangers for untrained individuals and many of these programs lack proper instruction.

And I’m not attacking the instructors of the courses. I’m saying that it’s nearly impossible in such a setting to teach proper mechanics—we’re all different.

When it comes to a successful fitness regime, it’s advised that you stay away from the trends and find something that not only suits your physical abilities, but also your sensibilities and helps to accomplish your goals.

A workout that you enjoy and keeps you healthy and, most of all, safe should be the prime objective when selecting an exercise modality.

Here is a list of 2018’s fitness trends, what I think of them, and whether or not they are good for you.

Top 15 Fitness Trends for 2018

The American College of Sports Medicine recently surveyed a number of respondents to get a feel for the top fitness trends of the upcoming year. Here is what they found.

1. High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)

If you are a high-level athlete or someone who exercises with intensity regularly, this could be a great inclusion to your exercise routine.

On the other hand, if you’re sedentary, have never exercised before, or have only done light-moderate intensity work, stay away from it or make it a goal to achieve by the end of the year.

There is a huge risk of injury for untrained individuals, and even well-trained people have to work up to HIIT. HIIT can be very appealing because it’s usually only prescribed as two or three sessions per week lasting from 10 to 30 minutes—because that’s supposed to be all your body can handle if you’re doing it properly.

If you’ve never done it and want to try—and are already in good physical condition—I’d recommend starting with 10 minutes of 30 seconds hard, followed by two minutes of rest.

2. Group Training

Group training can be a great exercise modality for people at any level provided they select the proper group. Some group exercise classes, like Orange Theory or CrossFit, run athletes alongside novices, and it can be a recipe for disaster.

Classes like these are best reserved for people who have a knowledge of how to perform specific movements and are experienced exercisers.

If you’re interested in exercising in a group setting but have never exercised before or lack the pre-requisite skills, find an introductory course at a local gym or community center to build a foundation.

Group training is available for any level in nearly any modality, and can be a great way to make friends and build a new social setting. Training with people at a similar skill level can also help with adherence.

3. Wearable Technology

If you’re interested in knowing how many steps you take every day and how much sleep you’re getting, technology like a “Fitbit” is right up your alley.

You could save some money and try to walk more during the day—for an hour or so. But if you want quantifiable data to serve as motivation, then this 2018 fitness trend is worthwhile.

4. Bodyweight Training

This is one of the most accessible fitness trends because you can literally do it anywhere.

You can start by performing movements like push-ups, planks, lunges, ball squats, step-ups and pull-ups to build strength, and then introduce items like resistance bands.

If you’ve never exercised before, it’s recommended to watch some tutorials online about how to safely perform movements. You can also join a class like Pilates, which uses minimal equipment to perform bodyweight exercises.

5. Strength Training

Strength training is useful for nearly everybody at any age or fitness level, as it promotes strong, healthy muscles that you use every day.

There has been a real resurgence of strength-training movements like the squat, deadlift, and overhead press recently, and this is a trend I fully get behind. This is one of the oldest and most effective forms of exercise.

All I would say is that if you have never performed these movements before, hire a trainer or coach to help you with technique and exercise programming.

Strength training is also a great option for older individuals battling illness and seeking to slow the aging process.

6. Choosing Educated, Certified, and Experienced Fitness Professionals

This is important for people at all fitness levels—whether they’re new to fitness or are veterans looking to take their skill/body to the next level.

Educated, certified, and experienced professionals can structure individualized programs to fit your life and body and get you where you want to go.

7. Yoga

Yoga has a number of health benefits and is a good practice for anybody. It is even a great complement to a more traditional exercise routine because it helps with movement patterns, proprioception, and recovery.

My recommendation would be to avoid any form of “intense” yoga, and to pick a class that’s suitable for your experience level. It has a number of proven health benefits to take advantage of.

8. Using Personal Training

Personal trainers that are experienced and certified can help clients at any fitness level. They are great for exercise programming, individualizing the workout experience, and providing instruction in a way that puts the client first.

Whether you’ve never exercised before or just want a tailored program, trainers are a great asset for people at any fitness level.

9. Fitness Programs for Older Adults

Fitness is often thought of as an activity for young people, but the truth is that older folks often have the most to gain.

Any training modality that increases strength and cardiovascular health can help prevent a number of conditions.

Exercise can be effective in preventing: osteoporosis, sarcopenia, high blood pressure, dementia, diabetes, and much more. It has the potential to vastly improve quality of life.

10. Functional Fitness

Functional fitness is defined as “using strength training to improve balance, coordination, force, power, and endurance.” The movements in a functional fitness program would replicate those that you regularly make in real life.

Some examples would include squatting, deadlifts, or walking from side to side. These kinds of activities are recommended for older adults to improve their quality of life, reduce risk for falls, and become generally better at the movements they make every day.

11. Exercise and Weight Loss

This is a pretty common New Year’s resolution, and it involves calorie-restricted (or at least altered nutrition) diets in conjunction with exercise programming.

It can be a lot to take on if you don’t have experience exercising and find it hard to stick to diets.

I’d typically recommend starting with the exercise program, making it a habit, and then focusing on your nutrition. Too many changes makes adherence much more difficult.

12. Exercise Is Medicine

Exercise is Medicine is “a global health initiative that is focused on encouraging primary care physicians and other health care providers to include physical activity when designing treatment plans for patients and referring their patients to fitness professionals.”

There is so much evidence that exercise and activity aid the healing process that working with an experienced fitness professional is a must for anyone treating an illness or injury.

13. Group Personal Training

Group personal training is a trend, and it can even provide motivation for some people to get to the gym.

But here’s the thing: Personal training is much more effective when it’s done one on one. This is because there are so many individual variables—from mechanics to what people enjoy—that a group setting often diminishes the experience.

If you do elect to do training sessions with others, cap the group at two.

14. Outdoor Activities

Whether it’s heading out for a skate on a frozen rink, an outdoor bootcamp, a walk around the neighborhood, or a “Spartan Race,” you can’t beat getting outdoors for some exercise and fresh air.

Check your community for any groups or activities you’d like to take part in.

15. Flexibility and Mobility Rollers

These devices are designed to relieve muscle tightness, massage, alleviate spasms, increase blood flow, and speed up the recovery process so that you can live normally.

It’s not totally clear whether or not these devices provide any additional benefit to regular stretching routines, so give it shot if you want. Be careful, though; foam rolling in particular does require decent balance and proprioception.

The Top Fitness Trends in 2018!

Well, there you have it: 2018’s top fitness trends. No trends are going to re-invent the wheel, and the reality is that most people should just focus on getting more activity every day. If this is the year you want to increase your fitness level, find any exercise modality that lines up with your goals, interests and abilities. If you’re still at it next year, think about taking the next step! Have a safe and active 2018!

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Article Sources (+)

Thompson, W., “Worldwide survey of fitness trends for 2018: The CREP Edition,” American College of Sports Medicine Health and Fitness Journal, Nov. and Dec. 2017, 21 (6):10-19;, last accessed December 14, 2017.