Worldwide Survey of Fitness Trends
by Walter R. Thompson, Ph.D., FACSM
From this article, the reader should
understand the following concepts:
Explain the differences between
a fad and a trend
Use the worldwide fitness trends
in the commercial, corporate,
clinical (including medical fit-
ness), and community health
fitness industry to further pro-
mote physical activity
Study expert opinions about iden-
tified fitness trends for 2021
Key words: Commercial, Clinical,
Corporate, Community, Expert
Opinions, Future Programs
The year 2020 is the most memorable in many of our lives, especially those
of us in the fitness industry. The worldwide COVID-19 pandemic changed
everything. Even as you read this, health clubs are closing, or at the very
best restructuring their services. For that reason, this 15th annual survey
of fitness trends will have the most impact it has ever had on the industry.
For example, new to this year’s survey was the inclusion of potential new trends such as
online training and virtual training. From the 2020 survey, virtual/online training was
redefined as the more specific online training (and was the no. 1 trend for 2021). Virtual
training became a defined trend on its own (and was the no. 6 trend for 2021). The results
of this annual survey will help the health and fitness industry make some critical business
decisions for future growth and development. These investments can be based on emerg-
ing trends that have been identified by health fitness professionals all over the world and
not on the latest exercise innovation marketed during late night infomercials on television
or the next hottest celebrity endorsing a product.
For the last 15 years, the editors of ACSM’s Health & Fitness Journal
(FIT) have circu-
lated an electronic survey to thousands of professionals around the world to determine
health and fitness trends for the following year. This survey guides health and fitness pro-
gramming efforts for 2021 and beyond. The first survey (1), conducted in 2006 (for predic-
tions in 2007), introduced a systematic way to forecast health and fitness trends, and these
surveys have been conducted annually since that time (2–14) using the same methodology.
As this is a survey of trends (and not fads), respondents were asked to first make the very
important distinction between a “fad”and a “trend.”
These annual ACSM surveys of fitness trends can be used in the commercial (usually
for-profit companies), clinical (including medical fitness programs), community (not-for-
profit), and corporate divisions of the industry. They not only continue to confirm previ-
ously identified trends but also recognize some new emerging trends and trends that ap-
pear for the first time due to the worldwide pandemic of COVID-19. The fitness trends
survey does not attempt to evaluate products, services, equipment, gym apparatus, hard-
ware, software, tools, or other exercise machines that may appear in clubs or recreation
centers or show up in television infomercials. The survey was designed to confirm or to
introduce new trends (not fads) that will have a perceived positive impact on the industry
according to the international respondents. Some of the trends identified in earlier surveys
could predictably appear for several years, whereas fads may appear but will expectedly
10 ACSM’sHealth & Fitness Journal
drop off the list in subsequent years (some as short as 1 year).
The potential market impact of new equipment, an exercise de-
vice, or program is not evaluated by this annual survey. The in-
formation provided in this survey is left entirely up to the readers
to determine if it fits their own business model and how to best
use the information for potential market expansion.
Commercial health clubs (those that are for-profit and the
largest sector of the industry) can use these results for the estab-
lishment (or maybe the justification) of potential new markets,
which may result in increased and more sustainable revenue
drivers. Corporate wellness programs and medical fitness centers
will find these results useful through potential increases in service
to their members and to their patients. Community-based pro-
grams (typically not-for-profit organizations) can use these results
to justify investments in their markets by providing expanded pro-
grams typically serving families and children. The health and fit-
ness industry should carefully consider and thoughtfully apply this
information to its own unique setting.
Every attempt was made to replicate the survey delivery as in the
past 15 years. For the 2021 survey, there were 41 possible
trends. The top 25 trends from previous years were included
in the survey, as were some potentially emerging trends identi-
fied by the editors of ACSM’s Health & Fitness Journal
. The edi-
tors represent all four sectors of the health fitness industry
(corporate, clinical, community, and commercial) as well as
from academia. In the survey, potential trends were identified
followed by a short explanation to offer the respondent a few de-
tails without inconveniencing them with too much reading, anal-
ysis, or interpretation. The survey was designed to be completed
in 15 minutes or less. As an incentive to complete the survey, the
editors made available to 10 random winners fitness-related
books published by Wolters Kluwer/Lippincott Williams &
Wilkins and Human Kinetics and a $100 MasterCard gift card.
These incentives were designed to help increase participation in
As in all previous years, the survey was constructed using a
Likert-type scale ranging from a low score of 1 (least likely to
be a trend) to a high score of 10 (most likely to be a trend). After
each scoring opportunity, space was allowed for additional com-
ments. At the survey conclusion, more space was left for the re-
spondent to include comments or potential fitness trends left off
graphic information. The next step was to send the survey elec-
tronically to a defined list of health and fitness professionals.
Using SurveyMonkey (www.surveymonkey.com), the online
survey was initially sent to 75,383 people (a 40% increase from
last year’s record of 56,746), including ACSM certified profes-
sionals, those who registered to attend the 2020 ACSM’sInter-
national Health & Fitness Summit, the ACSM Certification
e-mail opt-in list, ACSM Alliance members, ACSM professional
members who have added a FIT subscription, nonmember FIT
subscribers, FIT Associate Editors, and FIT Editorial Board
members. A link also was shared on the FIT web site and on
various social media sites, including the FIT Twitter page,
the ACSM Journal’s Facebook page, and ACSM’s Instagram
page. This year, the online/social link solicited 648 responses
more than doubling the 300 responses from last year. Out of
the 75,383 invitations, 791 bounced back as undeliverable
and 781 opted out. The survey response total was 4,377, which
is an increase of more than 44% from last year’s 3,037 re-
sponses. The response rate was 6%, which is comparable with
Figure 1. Age (in years) of survey respondents.
Volume 25 | Number 1 www.acsm-healthfitness.org 11
Responses were received from just about every conti-
nent, including the countries of Australia, Brazil, Canada,
China, France, Germany, Japan, India, Italy, Russia, Singapore,
Serbia, United Kingdom, and the United States, among many
others. Demographics of the survey respondents included 63%
53% having more than 10 years of experience in the industry
(Figure 2), and 27% with more than 20 years of experience. More
Figure 2. Years of experience reported by the survey respondents.
Figure 3. Annual salary of survey respondents.
WORLDWIDE SURVEY OF FITNESS TRENDS FOR 2021
12 ACSM’sHealth & Fitness Journal
than 37% of the survey respondents earned an annual salary of
more than $50,000, which included more than 6% who earned
more than $100,000 a year (Figure 3). Respondents were asked
to identify their occupations (Table 1), with 20% indicating that
they were full-time or part-time personal trainers. When asked
if they worked full time or part-time, 63% indicated full-time
and 27% part-time (less than 20 hours per week). Figure 4 indi-
cates where respondents work. Survey respondents were asked
about their career choices, with 35% indicating they were in
their first job and 32% indicating they were in their second ca-
reer. Figure 5 indicates the broad range of certifications held by
the survey respondents. New to this year’ssurvey(Figure6)isa
question regarding whether the reported occupation was a first
job, a second job, or a career change.
The top 20 fitness trends for 2021 are described in this report.
For a comparison of the top 10 trends from the past 15 years’
surveys (1–14), please see the comprehensive comparison table
available online (available at http://links.lww.com/FIT/
A156). The 2021 survey results (Table 2) reveal potential trends
as defined in the survey. It is not unusual for potential trends to
drop out of the top 20 and later to be labeled as a fad. New to
the top 20 trends identified for 2021 include a new no. 1, online
training (which was no. 26 in 2020), virtual training (no. 6), and
mobile exercise apps (no. 12). Falling to no. 5 is high-intensity in-
terval training (HIIT) and falling to no. 17 is group training. The
2020; no. 26 for 2021), worksite health promotion and work-
place well-being (no. 18 for 2020; no. 27 for 2021), and children
and exercise (no. 20 for 2020; no. 28 for 2021).
1. Online training. Virtual online training was first in-
troduced on the annual survey in 2019 and debuted
at no. 3 before dropping to no. 26 in 2020 when the
“virtual”was dropped from the title in favor of the
more specific online training. The big changes within
the health fitness industry as a result of the COVID-19
pandemic resulted in the temporary closure of clubs
around the world forcing innovative delivery of classes.
The challenges of engaging clients at a distance resulted
in the use of some very strategic delivery systems. Online
training was developed for the at-home exercise experi-
ence. This trend uses digital streaming technology to
deliver group, individual, or instructional exercise pro-
grams online. Online training is available 24/7 and can
be a live class (live streaming workouts) or prerecorded.
2. Wearable technology. Wearable technology was the
no. 1 trend since it was first introduced on the survey in
2016 (the only exception was a drop to no. 3 in 2018)
and includes fitness trackers, smart watches, heart rate
monitors, and GPS tracking devices. Examples include
fitness and activity trackers like those manufactured by
, Samsung Gear Fit2
. These devices can be used as a step counter
and can track heart rate, body temperature, calories, sit-
ting time, sleep time, and much more. Initially, there
was some question of accuracy, but these issues have
seemed to be resolved well enough that it has been esti-
mated to be about a U.S. $100 billion industry. New in-
novations include blood pressure, oxygen saturation,
3. Body weight training. Body weight training ap-
peared for the first time on the trends survey in 2013
(at no. 3) and was in the no. 2 position in 2017, no. 4
in 2018, and no. 5 in 2019 before dropping to no. 7
in 2020. Body weight training did not appear as a sur-
vey trend option before 2013 because it only became
popular (as a defined trend) in gyms around the world
within the last decade. Using a combination of variable
resistance body weight training and neuromotor move-
ments using multiple planes of movement, this program
is all about using body weight as the training modality.
Body weight training uses minimal equipment, which
makes it an inexpensive way to exercise effectively.
4. Outdoor activities. Perhaps because of the COVID-19
pandemic, more outdoor activities such as small group
Survey Respondents’Occupation (What Is Your Primary
Respondent Occupation Total Respondents (%)
Personal trainer (part time) 10
Personal trainer (full time) 10
Group exercise leader 4
Exercise physiologist 7
Clinical exercise physiologist 6
Program manager 4
Health/fitness director 6
Health/wellness coach 5
Undergraduate student 2
Graduate student 5
Medical professional (MD/DO, RN,
Registered dietitian 2
Volume 25 | Number 1 www.acsm-healthfitness.org 13
walks, group rides, or organized hiking groups have be-
come popular. They can be short events, daylong events,
or planned weeklong hiking excursions. Participants can
meet in a local park, hiking area, or on a bike trail typi-
cally with a designated leader. This trend for health and
fitness professionals to offer outdoor activities for their
clients began in 2010. In that year, outdoor activities
ranked no. 25 in the annual survey, and it ranked no.
27 in 2011. Outdoor activities were the no. 14 trend
in 2012, no. 13 in 2013, no. 14 in 2014, no. 12 in
2015, no. 14 in 2016, and no. 13 in 2017. In 2018, out-
door activities were ranked no. 14, no. 17 in 2019, and
no. 13 in 2020.
5. HIIT. Although a part of the survey as a possible trend
before 2013 but not making the top 20, HIIT was no. 1
in the survey in 2014 and 2018 (dropped to no. 3 in
2016 and 2017) and has been in the top five between
2014 and 2020. For 2021, HIIT drops to no. 5. These
exercise programs typically involve short bursts of
high-intensity bouts of exercise followed by a short pe-
riod of rest. Although there are several commercial
Figure 4. Where do you work?
WORLDWIDE SURVEY OF FITNESS TRENDS FOR 2021
14 ACSM’sHealth & Fitness Journal
club examples of HIIT, all emphasize higher intensities
(above 90%) of maximum during the increased inten-
sity segments followed by periods of rest and recovery.
Despite warnings by some fitness professionals of po-
tentially increased injury rates using HIIT, this form
of exercise has been popular in gyms all over the world.
6. Virtual training. This is the first time that virtual
training has appeared separately from virtual online
training. For the purpose of the survey, virtual training
was defined as the fusion of group exercise with technol-
ogy offering workouts designed for ease and conve-
nience to suit schedules and needs. Typically, virtual
smaller number of clients compared with live classes
while providing clients of all levels and ages with a differ-
ent group fitness experience. Virtual classes are often a
gateway for live group fitness classes. Virtual workouts
typically attract smaller numbers, and clients can go at
their own pace, which makes it ideal if training a novice
looking to learn the moves. As with online training, vir-
tual training in the top 10 may be an industry reaction to
the COVID-19 pandemic.
7. Exercise is medicine. Exercise is medicine (EIM) is
a global health initiative that focuses on encouraging
Figure 5. Which certifications do survey respondents hold?
Figure 6. Is this your first job?
Volume 25 | Number 1 www.acsm-healthfitness.org 15
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. EIM
was the no. 7 trend in 2017, no. 12 in 2018, no. 10 in
2019, and jumping to no. 6 in 2020.
8. Strength training with free weights. Previous sur-
veys included a category described as “strength train-
ing.”Determined to be too broad a category, strength
training was dropped in 2020 in favor of the more spe-
cific free weight training. Free weights, barbells,
kettlebells, dumbbells, and medicine ball classes do
not just incorporate barbells into another functional
class or activity. Instructors start by teaching proper
form for each exercise and then progressively increase
the resistance once the correct form is accomplished.
A new exercise is added periodically, and those begin
at the form or movement level. Training with free
weights debuted at no. 4 in 2020.
9. Fitness programs for older adults. This trend is
making a return after being in the top 10 since 2007
(when it was the no. 2 trend) and dropping to no. 11
in 2017. Fitness programs for older adults were the
no. 9 trend in 2018, no. 4 in 2019, and no. 8 in 2020.
This trend continues to stress the fitness needs of the
Baby Boom and older generations. These individuals
in general have more discretionary money than their
younger counterparts, and fitness clubs may be able
to capitalize on this growing market. People are living
longer, working longer, and remaining healthy and ac-
tive well into their retirement from work.
10. Personal training. One-on-one training continues
to be a strong trend as the profession of personal train-
ing becomes more accessible online, in health clubs, in
the home, and in worksites that have fitness facilities.
Personal training includes fitness testing and goal set-
ting with the trainer working one-on-one with a client
to prescribe workouts specific to their individual needs
and goals. Since this survey was first published in
2006 (1), personal training has been a top 10 trend. Per-
sonal training was no. 9 in 2017 and no. 8 in 2018 and
2019. In 2020, personal training was the no. 5 trend.
11. Health/wellness coaching. Previous surveys in-
cluded wellness coaching but for the 2019 survey, the
term “health”was added, which better describes this
trend. Wellness coaching has been in the top 20 trends
since 2010 and was listed as no. 17 in 2014, no. 13 in
2015 and 2016, no. 15 in 2017, no. 18 in 2018, no.
11 in 2019, and no. 9 in 2020. This is a trend that inte-
grates behavioral science into health promotion and
lifestyle medicine programs. Health/wellness coaching
uses a one-on-one (and at times small group) approach
with the coach providing support, goal setting, guid-
ance, and encouragement. The health/wellness coach
focuses on the client’s values, needs, vision, and short-
and long-term goals using behavior change interven-
Top 20 Worldwide Fitness Trends for 2021
Rank Top 20 Worldwide Fitness Trends for 2021
1 Online training
2 Wearable technology
3 Body weight training
4 Outdoor activities
6 Virtual training
8 Strength training with free weights
9 Fitness programs for older adults
10 Personal training
11 Health/wellness coaching
12 Mobile exercise apps
13 Employing certified fitness professionals
14 Functional fitness training
16 Exercise for weight loss
17 Group training
18 Lifestyle medicine
19 Licensure for fitness professionals
20 Outcome measurements
EIM, Exercise is medicine; HIIT, High intensity interval training.
WORLDWIDE SURVEY OF FITNESS TRENDS FOR 2021
16 ACSM’sHealth & Fitness Journal
12. Mobile exercise apps. Now available for mobile de-
vices, apps like MapMyRun
, and Nike Training Club
include both au-
dio and visual prompts to begin and end exercise and
cues to move on. Some of these apps can track progress
over time as well as hundreds of other functionalities.
These apps are available for mobile devices such as
, and Android devices.
Mobile exercise apps ranked no. 20 in the 2019 survey,
no. 25 in 2020, and now no. 12 in 2021.
13. Employing certified fitness professionals. Debuting
as the no. 6 trend in 2019 and dropping to no. 10 in
2020 and now at no. 13, the importance of hiring cer-
tified health fitness professionals through educational
programs and certification programs that are fully
accredited for health fitness professionals is fast becom-
ing a trend. More certification programs have become
accredited by the National Commission for Certifying
Agencies, allowing employers easy access to certifica-
tion validation through the United States Registry of
Exercise Professionals. Employing certified fitness pro-
fessionals was a new survey item in 2019, replacing
“Educated, certified, and experienced fitness profes-
sionals,”which was determined to be too broadly de-
fined as a survey item.
14. Functional fitness training. Replicating actual
physical activities someone might do as a function of
their daily routine, functional fitness first appeared on
the survey in the no. 4 position in 2007 but fell to no.
8 in 2008, and no. 11 in 2009. It reappeared in the
top 10 in 2010 at no. 7 and in 2011 as no. 9. Functional
fitness was the no. 10 trend in 2012, and it was no. 8 in
2013 and 2014. It was no. 9 in 2015, no. 7 in 2016, no.
12 in 2017, no. 10 in 2018, no. 9 in 2019, and no. 12 in
2020. This is a trend toward using strength training to
improve balance, coordination, muscular strength,
and endurance to improve activities of daily living typ-
ically for older adults and also in clinical populations.
15. Yoga. Yoga has taken on a variety of forms in the past
(including Power Yoga, Flow Yoga, Yogilates, Hot Yoga,
Rocket Yoga, and many others) as well as on-demand
this survey in 2008, fell out of the top 20 in 2009, but
made a great comeback in the 2010 (no. 14) and 2011
surveys (no. 11). In 2012, yoga was no. 11 on the list
falling to no. 14 in 2013, and up to no. 7 in 2015. In
2017, it ranked no. 8 after occupying the no. 7 spot in
2015 and no. 10 in 2016. Yoga was ranked no. 7 in
2018 and 2019 and no. 14 in 2020.
16. Exercise for weight loss. Most diet programs rec-
ommend including some type of exercise program into
the daily routine of caloric restriction, adding the calo-
ric expenditure of physical activity into the equation.
Exercise in weight loss programs has been a top 20
trend since the survey began. In 2009, exercise for
weight loss ranked no. 18, moving to no. 12 in 2010,
no. 7 in 2011, no. 4 in 2012, and no. 5 in 2013. In
2014, this trend was ranked no. 6 and remained at no.
6 in 2015. Exercise for weight loss was no. 9 in the
2016 survey and no. 10 in the 2017 survey. It was the
no. 11 trend in 2018, no. 12 in 2019, and no. 11 in 2020.
17. Group training. Group exercise training programs
have been around for a long time and have appeared
as a potential worldwide trend since this survey was
originally constructed. However, it was only in 2017
that group exercise training made the top 20, appearing
at no. 6 followed by no. 2 in the 2018 and 2019 surveys.
In 2020, group training fell slightly to no. 3. However, for
the 2021 survey, group training fell dramatically to the
no. 17 spot. Defined as more than five participants, group
exercise instructors teach, lead, and motivate individuals
through intentionally designed bigger in-person group
movement classes. Group classes are designed to be ef-
fective, motivational sessions for different fitness levels
with instructors teaching many types of classes and equip-
ment, from cardio-based classes and indoor cycling to
dance-based classes to step classes. The dramatic drop
in the 2021 trends survey may be the result of gyms clos-
ing or the recommendation to limit social gatherings.
18. Lifestyle medicine. Lifestyle medicine is the evidence-
based practice of helping individuals and families adopt
and sustain healthy behaviors that affect health and qual-
ity of life. Examples of target patient behaviors include,
but are not limited to, eliminating tobacco use, improving
diet, increasing physical activity, and moderating alcohol
consumption. Lifestyle medicine promotes healthy behav-
iors as the foundation to medical care, disease prevention,
and health promotion. Lifestyle medicine appeared for
the first time in the fitness trends survey at no. 16 in 2020.
19. Licensure for fitness professionals. There are
some professions in the United States and around the
world that are regulated by either local, state, or
Volume 25 | Number 1 www.acsm-healthfitness.org 17
national licensure. For example, people cannot call
themselves a medical doctor or nurse, and in many
places a physical therapist or dietitian without holding
a license issued by the state or federal government. This
is a trend in the fitness industry to pursue regulation of
fitness professionals such as personal trainers and exer-
cise physiologists. Licensure for fitness professionals first
appeared as a fitness trend in 2018 when it was ranked
no. 16, then no. 18 in 2019, and no. 15 in 2020 before
settling in at no. 19 for 2021.
20. Outcome measurements. Outcome measures are
efforts to define, track, and report data leading to account-
ability of both the health club member and the trainer.
Measurements are necessary to determine the benefits of
health and fitness programs in disease management and
to document success in changing negative lifestyle habits.
The proliferation of technology aids in data collection to
support these efforts. Outcome measurements were the
no. 21 trend in 2018, no. 16 in 2019, and no. 19 in 2020.
Dropping out of the top 20 from 2020 were circuit training,
worksite health promotion and workplace well-being, and chil-
dren and exercise. Circuit training ranked no. 17 in 2018,
dropped to no. 21 in 2019, no. 17 in 2020, and no. 26 for
2021. Worksite health promotion and workplace well-being
has been ranked as high as no. 15 in 2019, dropped to no. 18
in 2020, and now is ranked at no. 27 for 2021. Children and
exercise has been ranked as high as no. 1 in 2007 but has slowly
lost ground in recent years. In 2020, children and exercise ranked in
the top 20 (no. 20) but has fallen to no. 28 for 2021. Postpublication
commentary on these results is always interesting, with one group or
another arguing that their interest is a popular trend. Readers of
this survey must understand that regional popularity does not al-
ways translate as an international trend.
Online training went from the no. 26 trend in 2020 to the no. 1
trend for 2021 probably because of the shift in the market from
clubs to homes as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Wear-
able technology took over the no. 1 spot in 2019 and 2020 after
dropping to no. 3 in 2018 and is now no. 2 for 2021. HIIT, the
no. 1 trend in 2014 and 2018, fell to no. 3 in 2019 and no. 2 in
2020 and is now the no. 5 trend. Group training made a signif-
icant return in 2017 as the no. 6 trend and had been the no. 2
trend in 2018 and 2019, no. 3 in 2020, and fell to the no. 17
trend for 2021. Training with free weights (which replaced bar-
bell training in 2020) was the no. 4 trend in 2020 falling to no. 8
for 2021. Personal training is still in the top 10 but falling to no.
10 for 2021. Fitness programming aimed at older adults had
regained some popularity after falling out of the top 10 trends in
2017, appeared as no. 9 in 2018, no. 4 in 2019, no. 8 in 2020,
and is no. 9 for 2021. Body weight training first appeared as a fitness
trend at no. 3 in 2013 and has been a top five fitness trend since that
time realizing a peak as the no. 1 fitness trend in 2015. It was the no.
5 trend in 2019, the no. 7 trend in 2020, and now the no. 3 trend for
2021. Other trends to watch are outdoor activities (no. 4), virtual
training (no. 6), and EIM (no. 7). Dropping out of the top 20 were
circuit training, worksite health promotion and workplace well-
being, and exercise programs specifically designed for children.
The author thanks past editors-in-chief Ed Howley, Ph.D.,
FACSM, and Steven Keteyian, Ph.D., FACSM, for considering
this project important enough to include in the year-end edition
more than a decade ago and
to current editor-in-chief Brad Roy, Ph.D., FACSM, for con-
tinuing the tradition. The author also thanks the ACSM’s Health
& Fitness Journal
editorial team, especially those who contrib-
uted to the original survey in 2006, Paul Couzelis, Ph.D.; John
Jakicic, Ph.D., FACSM; Nico Pronk, Ph.D., FACSM; Mike
Spezzano, M.S.; Neal Pire, M.A., FACSM; Jim Peterson, Ph.D.,
FACSM; Melinda Manore, Ph.D., R.D., FACSM; Cary Wing,
Ed.D.; Reed Humphrey, Ph.D., P.T., FACSM; and Steve
Tharrett, M.S., for their very important input into the construc-
tion of the original and subsequent surveys. The author also
thanks the Fitness Trends Working Group of Vanessa Kercher,
Trevor Bennion, Kyle Kercher, Brandon Yates, and Yuri Feito.
Finally, the author is indebted to the ACSM staff who have sup-
ported this study by assisting in the construction, formatting,
analysis, and delivery of it to thousands of fitness professionals
around the world. In particular, the author recognizes the impor-
tant contributions of Francis Neric, Kela Webster, Heather
Drake, Katie Feltman, and especially Lori Tish, who has tirelessly
worked on this survey since it first launched in 2006.
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Walter R. Thompson, Ph.D., FACSM, is
a recently retired associate dean for Gradu-
ate Studies and Research in the College of
Education and Human Development at
Georgia State University and a regents’
professor emeritus in the Department of
Kinesiology and Health, the Department
of Nutrition, the Department of Physical
Therapy, and the School of Public Health. He is also the exec-
utive director emeritus of After-School All-Stars Atlanta, a com-
prehensive after-school program for at risk middle school-aged
children. He is a former president of ACSM.
BRIDGING THE GAP
The 2021 worldwide survey of fitness trends is now in its
15th consecutive year with this being perhaps the most
critical year because of the COVID-19 pandemic and
shifting health club business models. It was designed to
help and support the health fitness industry when making
critical programming and business decisions to capture
additional business into the future and maybe even to
stay in business. These results are relevant to all four
sectors of the health and fitness industry (commercial
for-profit clubs, clinical or medical fitness programs,
corporate wellness programs, and community-based
not-for-profit fitness programs). Although no one can
accurately predict the future of any industry, this survey
helps to track trends that can assist owners, operators,
program directors, and health fitness professionals with
making their important business and program decisions.
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