Good news for those of you who are sick of splurging on fitness equipment — this year’s top fitness trend doesn’t require you to spend a thing.

Body weight training doesn’t require any expensive equipment — it just requires your, you know, body weight. (Of course, we’re sure someone is working on a way to sell you equipment that you absolutely need to pull off a push-up as we speak.)

For the ninth year in a row, the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) has released its Worldwide Survey of Fitness Trends for 2015. Each year, the ACSM polls thousands of fitness professionals and releases a report listing the top fitness trends for the year ahead.

According to survey author Walter Thompson, a kinesiology and nutrition professor at Georgia State University, the survey is designed to help the health and fitness industry make important decisions “based on emerging trends embraced by health fitness professionals, and not the latest exercise innovation marketed during late-night television or the next hottest celebrity endorsing a product.”

Body weight training tops the list this year, taking over the top spot from high-intensity interval training (like CrossFit), which has fallen to number two.

That may not seem like a big drop, but Thompson believes that high-intensity interval could eventually fall out of the top 20, following the tradition of once-popular trends like Pilates, indoor cycling, stability balls and balance training that have all fallen off the list altogether.

The top 20 fitness trends for 2015, according to the American College of Sports Medicine

Body weight training

“People have been using their own body weight for centuries as a form of resistance training,” Thompson says, “but new packaging, particularly by commercial clubs, has now made it popular in all kinds of gyms.”

Although gyms have made body weight training popular, you can do it anywhere — there’s nothing stopping you from doing squats, lunges, push-ups and pull-ups at home. “Typical body weight training programs use minimal equipment,” Thompson says, “which makes it a very inexpensive way to exercise effectively.”

High-intensity interval training

Last year’s survey winner, high-intensity interval training involves short busts of high-intensity exercise followed by a short period of rest or recovery. It’s usually all over in under 30 minutes. Thompson says that many of the health and fitness professionals who responded to the survey said their clients liked high-intensity interval training for a little while, then wanted to move onto something else, while others were concerned about the high potential for injuries.

Despite its popularity, Thompson doesn’t think this trend will stick around. “High-intensity interval training is the result of a lot of these infomercials,” he told NPR. “I think that in five years, we’re not going to be talking about it.”

Educated, certified, and experienced fitness professionals

“There continues to be exponential growth of [health and fitness] educational programs at community colleges and colleges and universities,” writes Thompson.

Strength training

Thompson says that many contemporary health and fitness professionals incorporate some form of strength training into a comprehensive exercise routine for their clients and patients, and that a broad section of clients — men and women, young and old, children, and patients with a stable chronic disease — make weight training to improve or maintain strength their main focus.

Personal training

Sure, you could do push-ups at home, but most people would prefer to do them with a trainer — and as more of them become educated and certified, they become more accessible in all sectors of the health and fitness industry. Personal training has finished in the top 10 of the ACSM survey for the past nine years.

Exercise and weight loss

Thompson’s survey defines ‘exercise and weight loss’ (which seems a little broad) as a trend towards incorporating weight loss programs that emphasise caloric restriction with a sensible exercise program. Thompson notes that most of the well-publicised diet plans now incorporate exercise in addition to the daily routine of providing prepared meals to their clients, rather than relying solely on healthy eating.


“Yoga seems to reinvent and refresh itself every year,” Thompson says, “making it a more attractive form of exercise.” Thompson thought Yoga would have gone the way of Pilates by now, falling off the list entirely, but says the sheer variety of forms — including Power Yoga, Yogalates, Bikram Yoga, Iyengar Yoga, Ashtanga, Vinyasa Yoga, Kripalu Yoga, Anuara Yoga, Kundalini Yoga, and Sivananda Yoga — has helped it to maintain its staying power.

Fitness programs for older adults

“The baby boom generation has now aged into retirement,” Thompson says, “and because they may have more discretionary money than their younger counterparts, fitness clubs should capitalise on this exponentially growing market.” He says professionals wanting to tap into this growing market should develop fitness programs for people of retirement age and run them at times of day when most gyms are traditionally underutilised (typically between 9 and 11 am and 2 and 4pm).

Functional fitness

Functional fitness is all about replicating physical activities that someone might actually do as part of their everyday routine. It’s meant to improve balance, coordination, force, power, and endurance to enhance the client or patient’s ability to perform the daily tasks of living. Some survey respondents said they paired functional fitness with fitness programs for older adults, which does seem to make a lot of sense.

Group personal training

This oxymoron refers to personal trainers working with small groups, typically of two to four people, offering deep discounts to each member of the group and creating an incentive for clients to put their own groups together. “In these continuing challenging economic times,” Thompson says, “personal trainers are being more creative in the way they package personal training sessions and how they market themselves. Training two or three people at the same time in a small group seems to make good economic sense for both the trainer and the client.”

Worksite health promotion

In a bid to improve the health, well-being and productivity of employees, businesses are hiring health professionals to create fitness programs for their workers. Thompson says that “rising health care costs” place particular importance on health promotion programs in the workplace, so don’t be surprised if Australia follows suit.

Outdoor activities

The trend for health and fitness professionals to offer outdoor activities — like hiking, canoeing, kayaking, games, sports, and high-adventure programs like overnight camping trips — for their clients has been rising up the ACSM list since 2010. Of course, outdoor activities can be done by yourself or with friends, but Thompson says an increasing number of personal trainers are using outdoor activities as a form of group personal training.

Wellness coaching

Wellness coaching took the biggest jump from last year’s survey (from 17 to 13). A wellness coach will often take a one-on-one approach, focusing on a client’s values, needs, vision, and goals. Once the domain of, let’s face it, hippies, Thompson says that a growing number of personal trainers and other health and fitness professionals are now incorporating wellness coaching into their programs.

Circuit training

Several respondents pointed out that circuit training is similar to high-intensity interval training, but at a much lower intensity. Circuit training is a group of six to 10 exercises that are completed one after another, in a predetermined sequence. Each exercise is performed for a specific number of reps or for a set period before having a quick rest and moving on.

Core training

Once a regular in the top five of fitness trends, core training — exercises for the hips, lower back and abdomen, intended to improve the overall stability of the trunk and help with sports that require strength, speed and agility — has fallen down to the 15th spot on this year’s list. The Pilates oblivion awaits.

Sport-specific training

Often designed for young athletes, sport-specific training develops the skills and abilities necessary for playing a particular sport — essentially, it’s functional fitness for athletes. Sport-specific training has been all over the map on the ACSM survey, going from ninth spot in 2009 to out of the top 20 altogether in 2013, and now back at 16.

Exercise for the treatment/prevention of obesity in children

“Childhood and adolescent obesity continues to be a major health issue in most developed and developing nations,” Thompson says, “and is important because of its association with other medical issues such as diabetes and hypertension.”

Outcome measurements

“A trend that addresses accountability, these are efforts to define and track outcomes to prove that a selected program actually works,” Thompson says. The proliferation of new tech has made it easier to collect data that can be used to figure out if new programs are cost-effective and if old programs are actually working.

Worker incentive programs

“Worker incentive programs are associated with the trend to provide worksite health promotion programs in an attempt to reduce health care costs,” Thompson says. “This trend represents a potential resurgence of corporate health promotion programs as a result of rising health care costs experienced by both small and large companies and corporations.”

Boot camp

High-intensity, structured activity patterned after military-style training, boot camp involves cardiovascular, strength, endurance and flexibility drills led by an “enthusiastic” instructor. Boot camp has been trending downwards in the past few years; Thompson says “it will be interesting to see if boot camp programs continue as a trend in the fitness industry into the future.”

Will you be following any of these fitness trends in 2015, or will you be sticking to Pilates, indoor cycling, stability balls, balance training and other out-of-fashion techniques? Let us know in the comments below!