The late 1970s and early 80s found us grabbing our leotards and leg warmers to aerobicize. The 90s had us stepping to the beat on a bench. The early aughts saw a cult-like obsession with spinning our wheels in cycle classes. And who could forget how 2020 served up a global pandemic with a side of advanced technology that allowed us to stream our favorite workouts or work with a personal trainer from the privacy and comfort of our homes? Yes, from Pilates to powerlifting, a new fitness craze seems to be hitting the scene every few years.
So, what does 2024 have in store? According to experts, the “go hard or go home” mentality often found in the fitness world may continue to give way to a more joyful and comprehensive approach that extends beyond how you look to ask the age-old question: but how do you feel?
With all due respect to Michelle Obama, sometimes it’s good to go low – low impact, that is. “The ‘soft life’ mindset will show up in the gym,” Joe Holder, a Master Nike trainer and founder of The Ocho System, predicted to Outside. He says that as more people begin to understand the benefits of incorporating LISS (low-intensity steady state) workouts like walking into their routines, there will be a big push towards, as he describes, “wanting to feel better instead of just being fitter.” Stan Kravchenko, founder of OneFit app, agrees, telling Men’s Journal, “This type of steady movement is becoming popular because it’s easy to sustain and is gentle on the body.”
In case you aren’t on social media, Pilates is having a big moment and was the most popular workout of 2023, according to Class Pass. In keeping with the above-mentioned low-impact trend, Pilates (along with yoga) does more than just lengthen and strengthen muscles without the wear and tear of heavy lifting. It improves posture, balance, and flexibility, all of which tend to become compromised as we age.
Focusing on Function
You know the people at the gym who grab one heavily loaded dumbbell, lift it once, and then let it bang to the floor, startling everyone around them? That’s one trend we are happy to report is on the way out. Rather than the “how much can I lift” mentality, the focus is shifting to “How is this exercise helping me outside of the gym?’
Functional fitness is the term coined for these movements that mimic what we do in daily life. “Gone are the days where the fitness industry focuses on HIIT training, your one rep max, and how long you can pound the treadmill for. It’s all about functional fitness,” personal trainer Lauren Goggs told The National News. In other words, you want to be able to pick up your grocery bags or bend over to tie your shoes without throwing your back out. Which brings us to…
For years, women have eschewed weight training for fear of bulking. Now, as more studies emerge on the benefits of strength training for women, there has been an uptick of women picking up dumbbells, and they aren’t showing any signs of putting them down any time soon. Again, we aren’t talking about the one-and-done max rep-style lifting. We are talking about repetition using light to medium weights or even body weight to prevent the loss of muscle mass and bone density that occurs as women approach the pre and peri-menopause years.
Cold plunges, cryo chambers, infrared saunas, and stretch studios are becoming as much a part of the fitness scene as kettlebells and running shoes. Why? Because they work! These and other recovery modalities help the body perform more efficiently by reducing inflammation, alleviating soreness, and helping to prevent injury. Once reserved for elite athletes, anyone can access these treatments thanks to a growing number of boutique studio-style options popping up across the country faster than coffee shops.
When you were a kid, things like running, jumping rope, and swimming were fun. You looked forward to recess and getting outside to play. What changed? Hint: it wasn’t the activities. Exercise does not and, more importantly, should not be drudgery. In 2024, you can expect more people to embrace that idea and move their bodies in ways that bring them joy. Whether that’s taking a Salsa class or picking up Pickle Ball, there is a definite shift towards viewing exercise as playtime, and we are here for it!
These are just a few of the many trends you can expect to see in 2024. And while we are the first to say that anything that gets you moving is a good thing, we don’t recommend jumping on every bandwagon. If rock climbing is the next fitness fad and you’re scared of heights, don’t force it. Find the exercise that brings you happiness and the one that you look forward to doing, even if it means digging those neon leg warmers out of storage.