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NZREPS share research insights into top exercise trends for 2021

NZREPS share research insights into top exercise trends for 2021
February 16, 2021

The New Zealand Register of Exercise Professionals (NZREPs) has shared recent research from the respected American College of Sports Medicine on their predicted exercise and fitness trends for 2021.

There is always something new happening in exercise. Whether it’s a new piece of gear, a new way to move, or research that gives us a new insight into what we do already.

NZREPS note that 2020 was a year that proved the way we move and how we receive advice can change quickly when it needs to with it being no surprise that online and virtual offerings are a trend to watch.

Every year for the last 14 years the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) have produced a survey designed to confirm or to introduce new trends (not fads) that have a perceived positive impact on exercise and wellness, according to the international survey respondents.  A trend is defined as something that is likely to stick around, as opposed to a fad which is short lived in popularity.

The survey looks at four areas of health and exercise; corporate, clinical, community and commercial, as these areas also have impact on health and are sources of exercise information.

Bodyweight and free weights training are still popular, proving that a combination of the old and new is the way to go.

NZREPS also note the list shows that getting assistance and support is just as important as the exercise itself. Even in the age of wearable technology, which puts more information in the hands of the consumers, having a professional to offer support continues to be important. 

The top 10 trend results for 2021 are:

1 - Online training

The saviour of level 4 lockdown, being able to access the motivation and expertise we were used to face to face, into an online platform. Across NZ and the world, trainers and exercise providers came up with innovative ways to keep in touch. While nothing replaces face to face, it is clear that the flexibility of online training is here to stay.

2 - Wearable Technology

The arrival of fitness watches was greeted with equal skepticism and enthusiasm, but it seems these devices are here to stay. What has become apparent is that just wearing one is a start, but using the data your watch gives you and sharing with your trainer adds extra benefits. There is no doubt as the technology improves that we will see these devices moving further into the health space.

3 - Bodyweight Training

Body weight training has been a top trend for a number of years and it’s understandable why, especially in 2020 when access to a facility with equipment was unavailable.

4 - Outdoor training

Outdoor training has gone beyond solitary runs and walks, and into well deigned classes and sessions that make the most of the open air. Advantages include flexibility when you can’t make it indoors to the gym, and the holistic benefits of being at one with nature.

5 - High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)

Based on the principle of exercising hard then taking a break, HIIT training is most famous for more intensive exercise workouts. However, it can be adapted to suit all exercise levels, so if you are less fit don’t ignore this mode, just make sure you work with an exercise professional that understands your needs.

6 - Virtual Training

Different to online training, virtual training takes the human element out and uses apps with images, movements and pictures. It has great benefits, but make sure you are choosing an option that suits your health and exercise level profile.

7 - Exercise as Medicine

A global health initiative that connects those who are experts in health such as doctors, and exercise professionals that are experts in getting you moving. Exercise as Medicine is about using exercise as an effective tool for disease prevention and management.

8 - Training with free weights

Not limited to barbells and dumbbells, training with free weights is about using any type of resistance. In 2020 this sort of resistance was essential, but even beyond a COVID world, using free weights adds a balance and functional component to your exercise.

9 - Exercise/Fitness Programmes for older adults

Age is no barrier to a full and active life.  Being at number 9 proves that older adults are seeking out activities and advice and want to do more than a gentle stroll, enjoying the challenge of a structured programme, as well as the social and physical benefits.

10 - Personal Training

For something that didn’t even exist just a few decades ago, personal training is now one of the mainstays of getting active, and for good reason. Benefits includes one on one individualised support, and access to immediate feedback and correction.  

For more information on NZ Register of Exercise Professionals go to

Related Articles

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27th July 2020 - NZREPS encourages employers to consider mental and physical wellbeing of staff

19th February 2020 - NZREPS shares research insights into exercise and fitness trends for 2020

2nd September 2019 - NZREPs highlights benefits of exercising in water

11th June 2019 - NZREPs shares research insights into the value of High Intensity Interval Training 

22nd January 2019 - NZREPS reviews the top Exercise and Wellness Trends for 2019

19th December 2018 - NZREPS highlights the benefits of strength and resistance training in fitness facilities

10th March 2018 - NZREPs flags warnings over energy drinks and exercise

26th March 2017 - NZREPs asks if a Sugar Tax is the Best Solution to Obesity?

25th October 2016 - NZREPs highlights the real cost of physical inactivity

25th March 2015 - NZREPS highlights the need to be physically prepared for sport

17th September 2014 - NZREPs highlights need for exercisers to ask key questions about High Intensity Training

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