Life is full of unpredictability, and the year 2020 is definitely part of it. COVID-19 not only pressed a pause button on our lives, but also dramatically changed our lifestyle and habits, with our fitness routine being one of the hardest hit aspects. The pandemic has changed the prospect of fitness and wellness in 2020 and will probably continue the influence in year 2021 at the least, if not more.
End of last year, ACSM, a sports medicine and exercise science membership organization headquartered in the US, released their Top 10 Fitness Trends in 2021. Among them, online training, wearable technology, and body weight training are the top 3 fitness trends in America. ACSM also gathered top 41 to 46 trends across seven countries and regions – Australia, Brazil, China, Europe, Mexico, Spain and United States. Among them, exercise for weight loss, functional fitness training and body weight training appeared on the top 20 trends across all countries. Therefore, function, convenience and aesthetics are three of the characteristics that people are likely to look for when they consider incorporating a fitness component into their lifestyle in 2021.
1. Exercise for Weight Loss
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Cardio like walking, jogging, or cycling (spinning) has long been known as a means to lose weight. A healthy diet plus a certain amount of cardio creates a calorie deficit that promotes considerable weight loss in the long term. Despite walking or jogging being easy to perform, they require a minimum amount of time, i.e. 30 minutes, for the oxidative system to kick in and become the major energy system in order to burn fat. If you are looking for an effective and efficient way to lose body fat, cardio may not be the most optimal choice.
Weight training or weightlifting traditionally was considered a masculine activity and few women engaged in this activity. However, nowadays weight training has been more and more widely accepted as an effective form of workout for women. Weight training has so many advantages.
First, it is an effective way of building strength and muscle mass. For example, 30 minutes a day of weight training focusing on a special muscle group for a beginner is already enough to see results in a month. If you are not satisfied with your current body shape, skeletal muscles are also the building blocks that you can use to “reconstruct” it.
Second, it’s an effective way to burn calories. A pound of muscle consumes 2.5 times more calories than a pound of fat. At rest, our body uses fat as the major fuel for energy, meaning with more muscles, our body burns more fat even at rest. In the meantime, muscles have a higher density than fat, which means that a pound of muscle in volume is smaller than a pound of fat. That’s why an alethic person looks slimmer than one who is not, even if they weigh the same.
Third, it doesn’t require a lot of equipment. You could just use some dumbbells, weight stacks, simply a bottle of water, a book or something similar. Last but not least, it’s convenient. Weight training including body weight training allows you to train your body almost whenever you want and wherever you are.
Being effective, efficient and convenient makes weight training a great alternative for weight loss and weight control.
2. Functional Fitness Training
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According to Mayo Clinic, functional fitness training trains your muscles to help you do everyday activities safely and efficiently. Some well-known multi-joint movements are also considered functional exercises, such as squats, pushups, lunges and planks. If you are new to strength training, or you’ve stopped going to the gym for a while, those movements can be the beginner exercise or fundamentals before stepping further into the functional fitness training regimen.
Once you are familiar with the bodyweight exercises, you can move on to the next level by adding some weights. Since functional training prepares you for the daily activities, you can grab basically anything around the house, such as a pan, a bottle of water etc. as the added weights, and dumbbells or kettlebells are not a must. You can even be creative. Here are some functional fitness workouts that you can do at home. Just replace the barbell or kettlebell with any object that you can handle.
With more and more baby boomers retired and living alone, the demand for functional strength training as a mean to prevent injuries from daily activities and improve quality of life is likely to increase.
3. Body Weight Training
Body weight training has become a popular form of workout since the pandemic. It requires minimal equipment, minimal space and it’s super versatile. If you still think that body weight training is not effective for building muscles, then you are absolutely wrong. To make a bodyweight workout routine more challenging, you can make modifications like using unilateral or rotational moves, increasing range of motion etc. This video shows some of the best bodyweight exercises that you should try.
Combining bodyweight workout with HIIT is another effective and convenient way to both build strength and burn fat. As a form of interval training, HIIT alternates short periods of intense anaerobic exercise with less intense recovery periods, until too exhausted to continue, producing significant reductions in the fat mass of the whole-body. A typical HIIT session lasts less than 30 minutes, which is not time consuming. In addition, HIIT can be done without any equipment, which means you can do it almost anywhere you want. If you want to build strength and burn fat efficiently at the same time at home, check out this 25-minute bodyweight HIIT workout.
Since the above-mentioned trends cover only the types of workouts people are more likely to look for, in the rest of this article we would also like to share our thoughts about the 2021 fitness trends from a more holistic and cultural standpoint, including technology, accessories and lifestyle.
4. Wearable Devices
Wearable devices such as fitness trackers, smartwatches, and heart monitors have ranked in the top 3 trends every year since 2016 in the US. This smart technology keeps track of your body status including but not limited to heart rate, calories burned, steps walked, blood pressure, time spent exercising, sleep quality and even oxygen saturation level. It can be used by all ages and the choices on the market are abundant. Not to mention the peripherals like wristbands and screen protectors, with which these wearable devices can be a pretty add-on to your daily outfit.
Despite COVID-19 having made a huge impact on our lives, especially when it comes to travelling, it doesn’t change the fact that people will be travelling more and more often. Modern life is busy – busy working and busy travelling. That’s why on-the-go products are more and more in demand. Wearable devices are part of this on-the-go trend, but there are more. Fitness apps that provide online workout or streaming services while you are at home, far away from the gym, out of town or out of the country, and enormous portable products, including foldable yoga mats, collapsible or mini foam rollers, collapsible bottles etc., also belong to this category. Fitness is a habit and that’s why these products have come into existence.
Minimalism as a lifestyle has been gaining momentum, especially when nowadays there are so many choices, and meanwhile sustainability is becoming more and more important. This form of lifestyle has started to influence the fitness area as well - using resources like equipment and space as little as possible to build strength, muscles and cardiovascular fitness as much as possible, and eating natural food instead of processed food. Meditating and concentrating on what is the most important. Focused on being simple rather than being complex. Simplicity is also part of minimalism.
So, there you go, these are our opinions on fitness trends in 2021. What is your take on it? Have you seen any new fitness trend lately? Let us know by leaving your comments below!
 Vanessa Marie Kercher, Kyle Kercher, Trevor Bennion, Brandon A. Yates, Yuri Feito, Chris Alexander, Paulo Costa Amaral, Waldyr Soares, Yong-Ming Li, Jia Han, Yang Liu, Ran Wang, Hai-Yan Huang, Bing-Hong Gao, Alexios Batrakoulis, Francisco Gómez Chávez, Jorge López Haro, Adrián Ricardo Pelayo Zavalza, Luis Eduardo Aguirre Rodríguez, Oscar L. Veiga, Manel Valcarce-Torrente, Miguel Á. De la Cámara, "Fitness Trends From Around the Globe", ACSM's Health & Fitness Journal: 1/2 2021 - Volume 25 - Issue 1 - p 20-31. doi: 10.1249/FIT.0000000000000639.
 High-intensity interval training, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High-intensity_interval_training, Wikipedia.