ACSM Worldwide Survey And Trends For 2016 In Review

  • /
  • ACSM Worldwide Survey And Trends For 2016 In Review

Fitness Trends For 2016

It’s about time once again to review the trends that are in the ascendant and what has changed in the last year or two in the fitness industry. Fortunately, we don’t have to guess or dig too deeply. The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) produces a survey of the top twenty trending issues in the minds of fitness professionals.

If you haven’t done so already, you really should view the results of this year’s survey at this ACSM link. We have looked at trends before, and it’s a fascinating pastime to watch how the market and ideas change over the years. As always, some of the trends have extended while others have dropped away.

Notable 2016 Top Trend List Inclusionstrends

The report contains a lot of great analysis; I recommend finding the time to read it and to periodically check up on trends hereafter if you don’t already do so. Here are some of the main points that stand out to me in the current survey:

Educated, Credentialed And Experienced Fitness Professionals – These concerns have slipped downward for the second consecutive year. Professionals have to take an interest in career development, and that can only be a good thing. The question is: Is this change an actual matter of lessening interest? Or do the other issues just scream louder for attention?

Career awareness is good for gyms, good for customers and for those trainers and gym managers who push ahead and get higher and more targeted certification. The fact that it’s still an issue reminds us that, one way to reward and motivate your staff is always to nurture in the development of their career paths.

Wearable Tech – Are you wearing a wristband that sends data to your phone or computer? The chances are increasing that many members of your gym have some wearable devices on their person, and these could potentially be providing real-time data about their locations and activities. Surveys show that interest and awareness are increasing so that the wearables market will be something like half a billion devices by 2018.

Smartphone Exercise Applications – Like wearable tech, smartphone and tablet apps that give users feedback and track progress are here to stay. Even if they are currently less than perfect, they are likely to improve and become more popular. The report notes that users tend to be younger. But I suspect that older gym members will catch on as functionality and accuracy improve, as well as familiarity that they gain from exposure.

Outcome measurement – The ultimate purpose of wearable devices and mobile applications is the useful insights that they add to the member experience. The value is in the information that can be collected from them, not just for users, but also for the system administrators and managers who are looking for the big picture. Given the other digital aspects of the survey results this year, it’s perhaps inevitable that outcome measurement gets an entry on the list. It fits in line with the greater trend towards Big Data and the Internet of Things.

Wellness coaching – There has long been an alternative approach that takes a holistic view of fitness. Wellness coaching is both comprehensive and abstract, in a very positive way. The fact that this method is in the minds of fitness professionals shows a larger trend that thoughtful and results-based approaches are increasing in relevance. As more data becomes easily accessible, expect more wellness coaching and other opportunities in "big picture" service.

Trends In Discussion

A similar survey from the Physical Activity Council confirmed the findings of the ACSM. It highlighted the connection between wearables and activity. It also noted that, while people are becoming more active, they are still holding back on investing in fitness.

The ACSM Worldwide Trends Survey clarifies the difference between trends and fads. It never hurts to be able to make an accurate judgment on such things. In the final section, industry experts weigh in with comments and opinions that round out the report nicely. Even if it reveals information that is unfortunate it’s better to know sooner rather than later. It helps you clarify and adapt your business model to the conditions of the market.

We work in a very competitive industry; keeping up with business intelligence about trends is just one way to be a smart small gym business owner. Come back here to the Gym Insight Blog regularly to get information on trends and other issues that will, for good or ill, have an impact on your business.


Fagan, Lawrence. Industry Trends Compared And Updated. December 29, 2014. (accessed March 17, 2016).

-. Prepare To Connect Your Gym To Everything. February 25, 2016. (accessed March 17, 2016).

-. Survey Says Wearable Tech Is Key. November 30, 2015. (accessed March 17, 2016).

Stromgren, Eric. Report: American Inactivity Rates Decline, Activity Spending Continues Conservative Trend. March 9, 2016. (accessed March 17, 2016).

Thompson, Walter. Worldwide Survey Of Fitness Trends For 2016: 10th Anniversary Edition. November 2015. (accessed March 17, 2016).