There are certain things that go hand-in-hand with a new year: confetti, champagne, resolutions and, of course, a fresh crop of health and fitness trends. Some of them, like strength training and meal planning, have stood the test of time, while others were better left in the past (body wraps and weight loss pills, we’re talking to you).
As we hang up our party hats and prepare for a fresh start, we asked some health experts to share their predictions for what they expect to be the big fitness and nutrition trends in 2017.
1. NOT sitting: "Sitting is now the new smoking. As we become more aware of the health hazards of our sedentary work culture, more of us will look for ways to get on our feet throughout the day. Whether that means quick walks around the block, short fitness circuits or apps that remind you to move, we’ll continue to look for ways to get up out of that chair."
- Dempsey Marks, fitness expert and co-creator of the PreGame Fit program
2. The community influence: "As the smaller boutique segment grows, so does the focus on building friendship and support through your fitness facility. All of the thriving studio offerings have a major edge on this already, and even the larger companies are starting to push this. It supports people's basic psychological needs and helps fitness facilities with their overall retention."
- Jeff Shapiro, owner of Spindle Fitness
3. More fusion: "We envision seeing more 'fusion style' classes and programs being developed that include several elements of fitness programming such as yoga-strength, Pilates-yoga, cardio with strength, etc. In 2016, 'Piloxing' combining Pilates and boxing was a big hit because it merged activities holistically, to help people from getting bored. This year was a 2-format combo kind of year…let’s see if 2017 brings the 3- and 4-style fusion into reality."
- Susan Bowerman, MS, RD, Director of Worldwide Nutrition Education and Training at Herbalife
4. Resurgence of long duration cardiovascular exercise: "The benefits of HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) are well-known, but too much can lead to burnout and overtraining. Throwing in a slow, long cardiovascular (20-60 minute) session every once in awhile will help with your recovery, reduce stress and improve your overall aerobic system."
- Shane McLean, ACE Certified Personal Trainer
5. More weight, fewer reps: "Most people do the same exercises for eight to 12 and sometimes 10-15 reps per set. Our muscles have figured this out and have completely plateaued. I'm finally seeing gym-goers lifting weights for max strength and maxing out at five or six reps. This increase in intensity gives your muscles the stimuli to become stronger, increasing your function for sport and life, while also giving your body a boost in metabolism for maintaining lean muscle tissue and reducing fat."
- Billy Polson, founder and co-owner of DIAKADI
6. Group training: "People going to a gym these days want a fitness experience, not just another class. We love connecting with others and don't want to stop just because we're working up a sweat. Classes that build a team vibe and spirit not only make the workout fly by, but also keep you accountable each week because your teammates are counting on you to be there."
- Trainer Sarah Bright with Bright Fitness
7. Calisthenics at the park, beach and playground: "Who needs a gym anymore? With the new explosion in calisthenics (bodyweight training with a heavy gymnastics element), workouts can be done nearly anywhere outside that has a couple [of] high bars and some room to fly."
- Billy Polson, founder and co-owner of DIAKADI
8. Functional fitness: "I think there will be a greater focus on functional fitness, as people age and want to maintain their quality of daily life as much as possible. I also think limited mobility workouts will continue rising in popularity, for those with medical issues or low fitness levels. There is a greater emphasis on improving health through exercise, even with medical problems, so finding ways to help people get creative and work within their limitations is important."
- SparkCoach Jen
9. Strong over skinny: "Women are becoming more empowered when it comes to all things body. And while we still have a long way to go when it comes to ridding the world of body shaming, more and more women are taking a stand and publicly embracing their curves. Being fit, but strong, not overly thin—a balance that is better for both body and mind—should continue to be a conversation in 2017."
- Dempsey Marks
10. Heated-up cardio: "I predict that there will be innovative fitness equipment (treadmills, ellipticals and bikes) with infrared heating built in, to help speed up weight loss. These are already wildly popular in Europe and will be making their way to the United States soon."
- Angelique Millis, fitness trainer
11. At-home workouts: "Over 2016, we’ve seen an emphasis on the convenience of working out in the comfort of your own home. With the increasing cost of gym membership and the availability of expertise and routines online, it’s easier and more cost-effective than ever to exercise effectively at home."
- Competitive powerlifter Jodie Cook
12. More strength training for women: "I think we’ll continue to see a shift toward strength and power training, especially for women. There has long been evidence that weight training improves body composition (builds muscle and contributes to fat loss), but it has taken a long time for it to become more mainstream. Expect more women to swap the cross-trainer for the barbell as more gyms find space for the free weights in 2017."
- Jodie Cook
13. Shorter workouts: "In 2017, I expect to see shorter workouts that are less than an hour, which are mash-ups or combo group fitness classes featuring multi-modal equipment and a mix of cardio, resistance, flexibility and even mindfulness and meditation at the end. People have less time and know that they need diversity in their workouts, so gyms and studios are beginning to deliver on that want by offering efficient class workouts, with personalized attention from trainers during class."
- Ashley Pitt, certified personal trainer and blogger at A Lady Goes West
14. Cooking food on wood: "I’ve seen a lot of wood-fired ovens that aren’t your typical pizza-style oven lately, and I love it. I’ve always been a fan of that style of cooking—not only for the aromas, but for the smoky and charred flavors. I look forward to seeing what the industry does with this in 2017."
- Beau MacMillan, executive chef at Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain Resort & Spa
15. Whole food and clean, labeled supplements: "I predict a return to what supplements were supposed to be—not the drug-wannabes they have become. Mother nature got it right—we just need to add convenience."
- Jennie Ann Freiman, founder and product developer for wellness company oobroo
16. Intermittent fasting: "I think that people who are sick of diets, supplements and failed attempts to lose weight can finally find success with the newly-popular intermittent fasting (IF), also known as the eight-hour diet. The idea is that clients consume all of their calories within an eight-hour window (say, 11 a.m.-7 p.m.) and then fast for 16 hours (in this example, 7 p.m. to 11 a.m. the next day). Rather than counting carbs or calories, clients simply put a ‘deadline’ on their food consumption and stick to it religiously, resulting in rapid fat loss, improved digestion and a decrease in bloating."
- Fitness trainer Amanda Dale
17. Souping as the new juicing: "Where juicing removes your food supply completely, leaving you with only the nutrient-laden water pressed out of whole-produce items, souping involves actually consuming food -- and plenty of it. Because of this, you can spend a few days or a week consuming healthful, whole-food soup meals without feeling deprived."
- Chef Ariane Resnick
18. Slow eating: "Most of us are getting to the point where we know fad diets simply don't work. They're too restrictive and unsustainable, and the yo-yo effect they have on our weight is not just hurting our waistlines, but our health. In 2017, the trend will pull toward changing our lifestyles and overall nutrition choices to make slow and steady changes that make a huge cumulative impact. The various 'slow' movements (slow food, slow life) are starting to take hold, and people all over the world are seeing how their lives are improving."
- Trainer Sarah Bright with Bright Fitness
19. The rise of fruit vinegars: "Another fermented beverage, fruit vinegars are prepped to take off in 2017. With the continued development of the 'cocktail culture,' but also a new wave of non-drinkers, we are seeing these vinegars becoming more mainstream now, so the over-arching theme is the ferments!"
- Ken Immer, chief culinary officer for Culinary Health Solutions
20. More meal delivery: "More and more convenience meal delivery services are going to pop up, like Purple Carrot (the veggie version of Blue Apron), which focus on restrictive diets, such as Paleo or AI (auto-immune) protocols."
- Ken Immer
21. Purple foods: "Richly colored purple foods are popping up everywhere. The power of purple goes beyond the vibrant color, often indicating nutrient density and antioxidants. Beets are dense with nutrients, including potassium, betaine, magnesium, folate, vitamin C and a good dose of nitrates. Beets can also help to reduce blood pressure and anemia, and improve circulation and cognitive function."
- Scott Jensen, chief executive officer of Rhythm Superfoods
22. Kvass as the new kombucha: "We’ve seen an increase in the number of outlets of this fermented vegetable elixir. Kvass is starting to gain traction now that producers are able to make flavors that appeal to the American palate."
- Ken Immer
23. Saying “yes” to soy. "Soy will become popular again as people realize that when non-GMO and organic, it's an incredible source of plant-based protein."
- Ilana Muhlstein, registered dietitian
24. More turmeric: "Turmeric offers an endless list of health-enhancing benefits, including being linked to lower rates of breast, prostate, lung and colon cancer."
- Joshua McHugh, CEO/founder of Living Intentions
25. Veggies taking center stage: "With the farm-to-table movement expanding, I expect this to be the year of the vegetable. Look for chefs to showcase them in creative new ways and even feature them as entrees. As the collective conscious toward healthy living increases, so will the food and the way we grow, source and treat it."
- Darren Sylvin, executive chef, Aloft Boston Seaport
26. Petite treats: "Micro-desserts are sure to take off in 2017. While not inherently satisfying, bite-sized and miniature versions of people’s favorite desserts are both aesthetically appealing and grant them a guilt-free indulgence."
- Richard Doucette, executive chef, Lighthouse Grill at Harbor View Hotel