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5 fitness trends making waves in 2017

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We asked Gerry Gerhardt, head of the BODYTEC Training Academy, to report back on the 2017 FIBO Expert event in Germany – an annual gathering for the wellness, health and fitness industry. FIBO is the world’s largest international trades show for fitness, wellness and health. The numbers for this year state a total of 1,019 exhibitors from 49 nations, with more than 150,000 visitors, of which 83,000 were trade visitors. It’s safe to say the fitness market is booming! The following stood out as trends, fitness philosophies making a comeback, or developments in the industry.

#1 “Functional Floor”: Team work is in

The basic idea of the functional floor (also known as “functional station”, “functional corner”, “functional box” “anything functional”…) is to create an “active” space in the gym, where a combination of sound-, light- and computer-systems create circuit training. Either a trainer or a computer assists with timing, setup and exercise selection of individuals or training groups and is supposed to create a fun, motivating, flexible and motivating training environment. The functional floor is primarily designed to facilitate group classes and allows participants to work against in each other in performance teams (determining who works harder) and has already been well received by many gym members in Europe.

#2 “Smart Gyms”: Technology makes its mark

In continuation of the biggest market trend of linking training and technology in form of fashionable wearable devices (iWatch, FitBit, Garmin, Polar etc.), a new form of using training data of heart rate monitors and wearables seems to emerge through group fitness monitoring – the “Smart Gym”. This is already a part of many spinning classes or HI(I)T cardio sessions, but newer developments will create individual sessions, and weekly and monthly reports through a monitoring app. The goal is to provide constant validation and monitoring of training results for clients in form of a session or progress report. It is frustrating to see the industry trying to push “progress reports” and “live training data”, without actual understanding of the meaning and suitability for the type of training. At this point, the “Smart Gym” is not yet really smart.

#3 “Aqua Fitness Comeback”: Anything goes

Aqua boxing, aqua spinning, aqua yoga, aqua trampoline aqua anything… I’m not sure yet if it will be trend or fad, but the development of aqua yoga boards, boxing gloves, aqua punching bags, aqua trampolines, aqua weights and aqua bicycles indicates a comeback of the lately fading group training classes in the pool for new target groups and are likely one of the most popular presentations in the group fitness market.

#4 “Music Moves Us”: Party life hits the gym

The fitness industry is promoting the entertainment factor to motivate and activate people, as “Breakletics” (mini-breakdance moves in a cardio fashion choreographed with music) and Clubbercise (dance fitness routines using glow sticks to club anthems from 90s classics to the latest chart hits taught in a darkened room with disco lights) are supposed to “rock” the gym floors soon. I have no comment on any of these from a sports science angle: this is a case for marketing and entertainment.

#5 “Muscle Stimulation”: EMS training is a growing market

It was impossible for anybody at the FIBO to miss the growing size and importance of EMS training. An entire exhibition hall focused on different EMS training devices and different training concepts, the presence of EMS was similar in size to that of physiotherapeutic devices, concepts and training tools.
Miha Bodytec stood out as the top EMS device and clear market leader. Most alternative EMS device manufacturers focussed on a wireless option and a tight-fitting suit (similar to a wet suit) in different sizes, colours and designs. Having interacted with many of the EMS providers, I am convinced that Miha Bodytec, the supplier for BODYTEC, is by far  the strongest EMS device manufacturer on the market. Miha Bodytec presented the improved version of the iBody vest and glute-belt, which is supposed to be launched in Europe at the end of this year (no date for South Africa set yet), but also emphasised the importance of a high training quality and understanding of EMS training under the slogan “Safety First”.

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