The shape of fitness: Survey tracks the top fitness trends of 2018

Angelica Calonsag, 33, battles to complete her work station before rotating to the next spot during hybrid cardio, a high-intensity interval training class at Combat Performance & Fitness in St. Petersburg. (DIRK SHADD   |   Times)
Angelica Calonsag, 33, battles to complete her work station before rotating to the next spot during hybrid cardio, a high-intensity interval training class at Combat Performance & Fitness in St. Petersburg. (DIRK SHADD | Times)
Published Jan. 5, 2018

If you've been paying attention to the number of people at the gym, you can tell it's a new year.

So what will be big in 2018 in the way of fitness?

According to the "Worldwide Survey of Fitness Trends for 2018: The CREP Edition," which was published in the American College of Sports Medicine's Health & Fitness Journal, high-intensity interval training tops the list. The results are based on a survey of more than 4,000 health and fitness professionals and included some partner organizations in the Coalition for the Registration of Exercise Professionals, or CREP.

Here are the top 10:

1. High-intensity interval training (HIIT)

2. Group training

3. Wearable technology

4. Body weight training

5. Strength training

6. Educated, certified and experienced fitness professionals

7. Yoga

8. Personal training

9. Fitness programs for older adults

10. Functional fitness

Let's take a closer look:

1. High-intensity interval training (HIIT): HIIT has been popular for some time, appearing in the No. 3 spot on the 2017 list and in the top spot in 2014. HIIT "describes any workout that alternates between intense bursts of activity and fixed periods of less-intense activity or even complete rest," according to Shape magazine. Workouts often last 30 minutes or less. Pete Davidsmeier, owner of Combat Performance & Fitness in St. Petersburg, says, "HIIT training is proven to be more effective for weight loss and cardiovascular endurance than any other type of exercise." At Combat Performance, HIIT is used to train athletes in preparation for a fight. "Our HIIT circuits are designed to bring our athletes to peak physical condition, and we employ these same tactics for every member who walks through our door," said Davidsmeier, who is a National Academy of Sports Medicine certified personal trainer with 20 years of experience in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, boxing and Muay Thai.

2. Group training: These exercise programs run the gamut, with classes that range from cycling to step sculpting. "Group programs are designed to be effective sessions for different fitness levels and are motivational with instructors having leadership techniques that help individuals in their classes achieve fitness goals," the survey says.

3. Wearable technology: From smart watches to heart rate monitors and activity trackers, we love our gadgets. Wearable technology is a multibillion-dollar industry, and sales should only go up as new products are brought to market. Did you know, for example, that there's a smart shoe? SpeedForm, made by Under Armour, records data, including your stride cadence, and synchs with a phone app. You'll even be notified when it's time to replace your shoes.

4. Body weight training: You have everything you need for this at all times, and it's free and easy. Your body weight provides resistance. Think pushups, lunges, pullups. The survey adds that "Body weight training ... can be much more than that."

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5. Strength training: Lifting weights, using machines and resistance bands and even using your body weight can help you build muscle, and muscle revs up your resting metabolism. Strength training also can help prevent health problems. Davidsmeier said that for strength training, Combat Performance's focus is "on corrective movements that help combat the trappings of sitting at a desk all day or any other repetitive damage caused by work and life."

6. Educated, certified and experienced fitness professionals: "There continues to be sustained growth of educational programs at community colleges and colleges and universities ...," the survey says. There are a number of accreditation agencies.

7. Yoga: From downward-facing dog to half moon, there are plenty of people striking a pose and practicing this ancient discipline, which comes in many forms. There are also plenty of places at which to do so, from parks (Curtis Hixon in Tampa, to art galleries and studios. (Read more at The 2016 Yoga in America Study found that more than 36 million people in the United States practice yoga. In 2012, it was 20.4 million. Namaste.

8. Personal training: Bureau of Labor Statistics figures from 2016 put the number of fitness trainers and instructors at just above 299,200, and that number is projected to keep growing. "... Personal trainers will continue to be an important part of the professional staff of health and fitness centers," the survey says. Before you hire a personal trainer, check credentials and do your homework. Certifying organizations include the American Council on Exercise, the American College of Sports Medicine and the National Academy of Sports Medicine. "Knowing your trainer has the experience and solid processes to help you obtain your goals is key," Davidsmeier said.

9. Fitness programs for older adults: It's important to stay active, especially as we age. There are a number of programs and classes out there that can help. SilverSneakers, for example, offers free gym membership at facilities nationwide for adults 65 and older with qualifying health plans. For details and gym locations, go to The YMCAs also offer classes, as do city and county senior centers. The Brandon Senior Center, for example, has tai chi and chair Zumba. Some gyms also offer classes that may be of interest, including specific SilverSneakers classes, Zumba and water aerobics.

10. Functional fitness: The American College of Sports Medicine's Health & Fitness Journal survey defines this as "using strength training to improve balance, coordination, force, power, and endurance to enhance someone's ability to perform activities of daily living." According to the Mayo Clinic, "Functional fitness exercises train your muscles to work together and prepare them for daily tasks by simulating common movements you might do at home, at work or in sports." That means when you bend down to get something off the floor or reach into that overhead luggage bin on the plane, everything is working in harmony. A squat is a functional fitness exercise. Muscles worked include the quadriceps, hamstrings and glutes.

Contact Dawn Cate at