Top 2010s Fitness Industry Trends

As we enter the new decade, we’ve taken a look back at the top fitness industry trends from the past decade – the 2010s. How have tastes and habits changed over the past decade? Which trends have burst onto the scene? What trends will continue on into the 2020s? Read on for the answers to these questions and more.

Fitness Industry Trends Upwards – 230 Million Members Globally By 2030

According to The 2019 IHRSA Global Report, in 2018 the global health club industry revenue came to US Dollar $94 billion with more than 210,000 clubs serving 183 million members.

Growth is tracking in line with IHRSA (the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association) targets according to Jay Ablondi, IHRSA’s Executive Vice President of Global Products: “The industry is on pace with IHRSA’s global initiative, announced last year, to reach 230 million health club members worldwide by 2030.”

According to the IHRSA report, which details performance indicators for 65 markets, the UK was identified as the third largest market in the world. The UK health club market generated USD $6.2 billion revenue (approximately GBP £4.7 billion) and boasted 9.9 million members in 2018. By comparison, the 2011 IHRSA International Report reported that the UK market generated GBP £3.7 billion revenue with 7.4 million members at the start of the decade in 2010.

Top Fitness Industry Trends Compared – 2020 vs. 2010

For the past 14 years, the ACSM Health & Fitness Journal has published it’s annual worldwide fitness survey showing which fitness industry trends health and fitness professionals rank as the ones to watch for the year to come.

Comparing the global results for 2020 with those for 2010 shows key differences yet surprising similarities:

Wearable technology didn’t feature in the 2010 list developing over the course of the decade. Training styles evolved with strength training, sports-specific training and Pilates making way for HIIT, free weights and bodyweight training. Meanwhile, the preventative benefits of exercise and a focus on overall wellness entered the mainstream consciousness. Group training in general grew in popularity, perhaps an evolution of group personal training.

With these trends in mind, here are our pick of the top fitness industry trends from the last decade and explore how these will develop in the 2020s.

2020 Top 10 Trends 2010 Top 10 Trends
1 Wearable technology Educated & experienced fitness professionals
2 HIIT Strength training
3 Group training Children & obesity
4 Training with free weights Personal training
5 Personal training Core training
6 Exercise is medicine Special fitness programmes for older adults
7 Bodyweight training Functional fitness
8 Fitness programs for older adults Sports-specific training
9 Health/wellness coaching Pilates
10 Employing certified fitness professionals Group personal training

Trend 1: Wearable Technology & Digital Fitness Services

While wearable activity trackers have been around for some time, the mainstream use of wearables really took off over the course of the 2010s. The technology available to ordinary consumers has advanced and become more accessible and desirable.

According to Statista data, 6.6 million wearables are used in the UK – a penetration rate of 9.8% as of December 2019. Where will this trend go into the 2020s? Research from GlobalData shows that while growth of wearables will continue, consumers are moving away from fitness trackers towards smartwatches which offer a greater range of features. Consumers will likely seek wearables that are both aesthetically appealing and offer a rich array of functionalities.

The popularity of wearable technologies has facilitated and fuelled the growth of programmes that reward activity and healthy behaviours such as Activpoints. The application of wellness incentive schemes will only grow into the 2020s.

Alongside the growth of wearables, although not yet on the ASCM fitness industry trends list, digital fitness services have emerged and grown in popularity over the course of the 2010s.

In our recent article, Is The Status Quo Your Biggest Threat?, we reported that services, like FIIT and SWEAT, are evidence of this growth. As of August 2019, the FIIT app had been downloaded by 150,000 users who’d taken 500,000 live classes since its launch in April 2018. At the same time, 35 million workouts had been completed via the SWEAT app since 2015. This fitness industry trend looks set to continue into the 2020s and as the decade progresses, we expect these services to mature.

Learn more – read Is The Status Quo Your Biggest Threat? to find out what the rise of digital fitness services might mean for your organisation.

Trend 2: Group Training

Classified as instructor-led in-person sessions with more than 5 participants by ACSM, group training or group fitness rose in popularity over the 2010s.

While not new, popular classes, including those by brands such as Zumba Fitness and Les Mills, offer an alternative to traditional workouts in a motivational setting. A cost-effective option for participants, classes create a ‘team’ environment that allow individuals of many fitness levels to connect and support one another.

While digital fitness services such as SWEAT have built large communities online, many people are seeking a sense of offline community. With the ability to bring people together and sustain motivation, group fitness looks set to continue to flourish into the 2020s.

Outdoor activities came in at number 13 on the ACSM list. The rise of Parkrun, Rabble and military style outdoor bootcamps that bring individuals together in an outdoor setting, show that the popularity of group fitness extends beyond the studio – blending the two trends. Incentive programmes, such as Activpoints, help operators maintain customer loyalty with rewards for these types of out of facility activities.

Trend 3: Health-Conscious Consumers

Social media grew during the 2010s, with one platform having a particularly big impact on the health and fitness industry – Instagram. Launched in October 2010, Instagram fuelled the rise of fitness influencers offering inspiration for consumers looking to improve their health and fitness. A simple search for #fitness now brings up over 370 million posts (as of December 2019).

Similarly, the media picked up on this growing trend and the published more articles on the topic of fitness, as well as wellness. This in turn has further fuelled consumer interest.

Furthermore, the 2020 ACSM trend for Exercise is Medicine (EIM) shows how healthcare is becoming more focused on prevention. EIM is a global health initiative focused on encouraging health care providers to include physical activity and associated treatment recommendations as part of every patient visit.

Combined these three factors – social media, media attention and initiatives like EIM – drove consumers to become more focused on health.

This can also be seen in the entry of health/wellness coaching into the top 10. Yoga featured at number 14 in the ACSM global list for 2020 (holding its place from the 2010 list), lifestyle medicine at 16 and worksite health promotion & workplace wellbeing at 18. All suggest that health will continue to become an even higher priority in all areas of life as we enter the 2020s.

Trend 4: Fast, Accessible Fitness

Health-conscious consumers are time poor in today’s world and need fitness to be accessible. High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) came in at number 2 on the ACSM global fitness industry trends list.

This format typically involves short periods of high intensity exercise followed by a short rest or active recovery break. It is perfect for today’s time poor yet health-conscious consumer (although HIIT has been linked to increase injury rates so may not be for everyone). HIIT did not appear in the ACSM’s list for 2010 but by 2014 it was topping the list, making it a key trend of the 2010s. Its popularity looks set to continue into the 2020s.

Other easily accessible formats feature in the 2020 top 10 including training with free weights at 4 and bodyweight training at 7. Both formats can be done with simple or no equipment – great for consumers who are not able to access a full set of gym equipment.

As we enter a fresh year and decade, there are sure to be new fitness industry trends which will emerge into the mainstream. At Harlands Group, we look forward to helping our clients from across the health and fitness industry to navigate the challenges and make the most of the opportunities that arise!