The 2019 Worldwide Fitness Trends

The annual survey of worldwide fitness trends is now in its 13th year. Although we know that no one can accurately predict the future, this survey can help us fitness nerds keep an eye on what the rest of the world is up to, and glean some insight into what is a worthwhile trend and what is a passing fad.

Brock Armstrong
6-minute read
Episode #433
Photo of a woman doing pushups, wearing VR goggles

Trend #10: Exercise Is Medicine

Exercise Is Medicine (EIM) is a global health initiative that is focused on encouraging primary care physicians and other health care providers to include physical activity assessment and associated treatment recommendations as part of every patient visit, and referring their patients to exercise professionals. In addition, EIM recognizes fitness professionals as part of the health care team in their local communities. You can find out more about this important and fascinating topic at exerciseismedicine.org.

EIM was the #7 trend in 2017 and #12 for 2018.

Trend #11: Health/Wellness Coaching

This is a trend to incorporate behavioral science into health promotion and lifestyle medicine programs for individuals. Health/wellness coaching uses goal-setting, guidance, and mindset to focus on the client’s values, needs, vision, and short- and long-term goals using behaviour change intervention strategies. This is exactly what the Nutrition Diva (Monica Reinagel) and I use in our Weighless program to help our clients achieve sustainable fat loss.

Wellness coaching has been in the top 20 since 2010 but this is the closest it has come to breaking into the top 10.

Trend #12: Exercise for Weight Loss

This trend is why my list is the top 12 and not the top 10—the idea of using exercise for weight loss has been fraught with misuse and misunderstanding for years now. Yes, most sensationalized diet programs incorporate some kind of exercise program into the daily routine. However, this report indicates that in 2019, the combination of diets, diet supplements, lifestyle interventions, and even cooking classes, along with exercise programs, will become more prominent. I for one feel that this is a move in the right direction away from “exercising to burn calories” to a more realistic and holistic view.

This is a move in the right direction away from “exercising to burn calories” to a more realistic and holistic view.

What’s Out for 2019?

Before I wrap up, how could I not also list some of the trends that have fallen out of fashion for 2019?

Dropping distinctly and notably out of the top 20 from 2018 were:

  • circuit weight training

  • sport-specific training

  • core training

  • boot-camp style training

  • virtual/online training

  • worker incentive programs

  • children and exercise

  • low-cost and budget gyms

  • boutique fitness studios

  • walking/running/jogging clubs

  • Pilates

  • dance-based workouts

  • barbell training

  • boxing, kickboxing, and mixed martial arts

  • water workouts

  • virtual reality

In my opinion, there are some great trends listed here with my top three being Exercise as Medicine, Functional Fitness Training, and the potential for us to reset our idea around exercise simply being a way to burn calories. I have said it before and I will say it again—in a perfect world, calorie counters would be banned from all exercise machines. Instead, I would add “number of limbs moved” or “variety of planes used” or, even better, I would add a “level of enjoyment” meter. Perhaps in 2019, we can start heading in that direction. 

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Woman exercising in VR glasses image courtesy of Shutterstock.


About the Author

Brock Armstrong

Brock Armstrong is a certified AFLCA Group Fitness Leader with a designation in Portable Equipment, NCCP and CAC Triathlon Coach, and a TnT certified run coach. He is also on the board of advisors for the Primal Health Coach Institute and a guest faculty member of the Human Potential Institute. Do you have a fitness question? Leave a message on the Get-Fit Guy listener line. Your question could be featured on the show.