From time to time, I catch up with the current fitness trends. I’m not in the fitness field anymore, but I do like to see where they’re at.

Usually, they’re filled with HIIT training, body weight exercises and group exercise. All of which is fine (after all, the best exercise is the exercise you or your clients will do), but they usually don’t reflect any deep change in or insight into how the fitness world thinks about health and human performance.

And, maybe more importantly, those trends usually don’t reveal any deep change in the way that the general public thinks about health and fitness.

But this year, I think there’s something interesting happening.

You can see examples of these trends in places like ACSM’s Worldwide Survey of Fitness Trends for 2021.

I’m not going to list all of the trends here, you can read the reports, instead I’m going to dig into what I think those trends mean – for the general public and for those of us in the holistic health and performance profession.

People want to be in nature

Outdoor activities have skyrocketed as a trend. Now some of that is surely because pandemic restrictions made it a necessity, but I promise that the deepest reason is that most of us have been stuck inside our houses or apartments for over a year. Even for our nature-deprived population, that kind of separation from mother earth is extreme.

So, as you reconnect with your clients, help them to find ways to get outdoors – even if it is just digging their feet into the grass in their backyard.

People are looking for help with their health & fitness goals more than ever 

Among the trends this year, health and wellness coaching is up, virtual training is up, mobile exercise apps are trending upwards and so is 1-on-1 personal training. People want help and are looking for it anywhere they can find it.

To me, this is a sign of awakening. So, if you’re in the health/fitness field and you’ve been worried about your business prospects, don’t. Your next client is out there. Connect to them, find out what their dreams are, tailor your programs and you’ll have a client for life.

The rise of the fitness app 

Fitness apps weren’t even recognized as a genuine trend until 2015 or so. Even then, they weren’t cracking the top trends until the last 2 years. Now, they’re huge.

Some of that is expense – apps are cheap! And of course, if you can’t go outside or get to your Zumba class because you’re social distancing, well, an app may be all that you can get your hands on.

I know some fitness pros are worried about this trend. After all, they may take business away from you, right?


Look, there is NO app out there that can connect with your client’s dreams like you can. There is no app out there that can assess with the depth and precision you can. There is no app out there that is as good a judge about when to challenge your client and when to back off. There is no app out there that has your creativity capacity to build programs.

If you’re truly coaching your clients, no app can touch what you offer them.

An app or a wearable device might be a nice tool to help them stay on track, but that’s it.

Personalization is key 

Hidden deep in all of these trends is something truly important. Why is 1-on-1 health coaching on the rise? Why is personal training (defined as 1-on-1 coaching) on the rise despite the social limitations of the pandemic? It’s because 1-on-1 coaching offers the best opportunity for personalized coaching and there’s no doubt that personalization done right gets the best results for your clients – regardless of their goals.

That’s not to say that group training is useless. It absolutely isn’t. Like I said earlier, the best exercise is the one your will do and if that happens to be something like Zumba, then fantastic. And depending on how you run your group, there is always the possibility to work some personalization for individual participants into the routine as well. You just have to be creative!

So here’s my big takeaway from this year’s trends.

If you’re in the health and fitness field, people are looking for your help more than ever. If you want to help them and to grow your practice:

  • Connect with your clients
  • Learn about their goals and dreams
  • Discover their sources of motivation
  • Ask yourself, “what makes my client unique?”

Design your programs around those factors and be fully present with them each session, and your practice is going to skyrocket.

2021 is going to be full of opportunities to thrive for you and your clients, so stay positive and get ready for it!

Love and Chi,
– Paul

(Nature Photo by Ashim D’Silva on Unsplash, App Photo by Andy Makely on Unsplash, Personal Trainer Photo by lawrence wilcox on Unsplash)