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At a recent gathering of the American College of Sports Medicine, Exercise Physiologist Dr. Walt Thompson revealed the results of a worldwide survey in which 10,000 people were asked what was most important in fitness today.
While exercise programs for childhood obesity topped the list in 2007, surprisingly number one in '08 is the desire for educated and experienced fitness professionals.
"Many people have had experiences with bad personal trainers," said Dr. Thompson.
But Thompson says more and more gyms are demanding certified instructors, so this presents a win-win for both client and club.
Strength training continues to soar in popularity as do Pilates, yoga, and so-called "core training" -- working abdominal and back muscles using BOSUs, foam rollers and other tools to maintain stability, balance and strength as we age.
"Corporate wellness programs are probably one of the fastest growing sectors of the fitness industry because of rising health care costs, because of rising insurance costs -- and many of these companies are self insured," said Dr. Thompson.
To create healthy behaviors on the job, work-incentive programs and the presence of wellness coaches in the workplace are on the rise.
People ages 18 to 24 remain the most dedicated gym-goers, but currently many health clubs are attempting to attract two other populations to boost their revenues. The first is overweight teens and kids; the second is seniors. Prior to this year there were always small offerings for both, but now there's a sizeable attempt to target both groups.
Children's programs are selling the idea that fitness is fun, while classes for older clientele are structured to introduce them to gym settings through stretch and other milder methods.
And proving once again this program isn't just spinning its wheels, indoor cycling maintains its popularity along with the use of Swiss exercise balls.
Finally, what was once considered a luxury, but now more accessible than ever, hiring a personal trainer is definitely in fashion.
Here are the survey results in order:
1. Educated and experienced fitness professionals
2. Exercise prorams for children to fight childhood and adolescent obesity
3. Personal training
4. Strength training
5. Core training
6. Special fitness programs for older adults
8. Functional fitness
9. Swiss ball
11. Exercise and weight loss
12. Spinning (indoor cycling)
13. Sport-specific training
14. Balance training
15. Group personal training
16. Outcome measurements
17. Comprehensive health promotion programming at the worksite
18. Reaching new markets
19. Worker incentive programs
20. Wellness coaching
For more information: www.acsm-healthfitness.org