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Looking Back at Fitness Trends from the 2010s—And What’s Next
From Zumba to the Color Run, the 2010s had some epic fitness moments. What will the next decade have in store?
It’s hard to believe it’s been a whole decade since the Vancouver Winter Olympics, the iPhone 4 and Bieber-mania. Ten years ago, Angry Birds was a new thing, personalized ring tones were a novel discovery and emo culture was a fledgling idea. There’s a lot to love about the decade that brought us minimalist running shoes and smart compression gear but as we edge closer and closer to the end of the year, it’s time to face the calendar. The 2010s are almost over, and on January 1 we’ll enter a brand new decade.
If the ’10s had its share of major pop culture moments, it had some pretty outstanding fitness highlights, too. Adventure races, group rowing classes and MMA arrived on the scene and are here to stay. But other fads have come and gone (cue the violins). Hang with us as we take a look back at some of the biggest fitness trends of the last decade and cherry pick the fads we think will make it big in the decade to come.
The Trend: Boutique Fitness
One of the biggest hallmarks of the decade was the move from large gyms to studio fitness, thanks in part to services like ClassPass, founded in 2013. “Early in the 2010s, big box gyms were the dominant player and boutique fitness classes were just emerging on the scene,” says Shari Castelli, Director of Partner Expansion at ClassPass. “Now, people have fallen in love with brands and instructors rather than equipment and discovered that it’s much easier to stay motivated when they’re able to access a variety of classes.”
The Trend: Road Races and Themed Runs
Over the past 10 years, the sport of running has grown by 57%, and the marathon has grown fastest of all. From 2008 to 2018, marathon participation grew by over 49% worldwide as more and more people toed the start line for the first time.
You also might have participated in some sort of themed run during the 2010s—whether it was Ragnar Relays’ whiskey-inspired Bourbon Chase or The Color Run that left you stained with rainbow powder for days. Courses that involved obstacles, whether nature-made on trails or man-created, were big.
Equinox master trainer Gerren Liles notes obstacle courses now have worldwide competitions and TV shows centering on the concept. “”Obstacles take things up a notch by introducing physical and mental challenges to demonstrate true overall fitness—think crawling under barbed wires, rope climbs and carrying objects uphill,” says Liles, who has clients wear weighted vests in workouts to prepare for the grueling endeavors. “Training for the challenge is half the fun.”
The Trend: Hybrid Workouts
From PiYo to tread-and-strength studio formats, hybrid workouts took over in the 2010s. “Yoga with Pilates and boxing with core classes ruled the last decade,” says celebrity trainer Gunnar Peterson, who works with stars like Jennifer Lopez and the Kardashians. “Even in running classes, a lot of them will end with core work, bodyweight squats or walking lunges that are pulled more from resistance training.” Hybrid classes are an efficient, one-stop way for people to get in cardio and strength training.
The Trend: Dance-Inspired Workouts
Zumba, anyone? Dancing became a major form of fitness in the 2010s, with this salsa and merengue-inspired class leading the charge. Around the world, women flocked to their local gym to try the inclusive, fun-filled classes that felt more like a party than a workout.
Similarly, barre studios—once the destination for those long, leggy ballet insiders—went mainstream. True, their roots began in the early aughts with companies like Pure Barre, but the trend really began to boom in the 2010s as more people learned what it means to “tuck your hips” and “stand tall.”
The Future: A Focus on Functional Fitness
Here’s one trend that started in 2000 and has only grown since: CrossFit, an interdisciplinary mix of functional fitness approaches, helps people get stronger in their everyday lives, which is probably the reason why its popularity continues to climb. Deceptive in its simplicity (all you need are shorts and supportive shoes), the brand appeals to all ages and levels because the WODs (Workout of the Day) can be customized to suit almost everyone’s needs. Expect CrossFit to be around for years to come.
The Future: Wellness-Based Workouts
“Feeling and performing your best is no longer just about pushing your limits,” Castelli says. “People now recognize that you need to give your mind and your body time to recover in order to reap the benefits of exercise. We’ve seen a rise in meditation, sound bathing, stretching and recovery classes during the past year,” a trend she believes will continue to grow.
To accommodate demand, ClassPass has added the option to book different wellness appointments on the platform. “In a one-year test in select markets, we’ve already had 300,000 reservations, so we absolutely plan to lean into this trend by continuing to expand our wellness options,” confirms Castelli.
The Future: Female-Focused Strength Training
In their annual State of Fitness report, health and wellness media company aSweatLife named “women in the weight room” as their readers’ favorite 2019 fitness trend. That’s a stat likely to grow as women toss out-of-date fears of “getting bulky” and embrace loading more plates onto their barbell rack. An across-the-board appreciation for strong bodies will have more women turning to strength training in the decade to come.
The Future: Fitness as an Experience
The 2010s were all about Coachella, flower crowns and crop tops—but in the 2020s, look for fitness to take on the festival scene. With brands like Propel and Wanderlust leading the way, your 2020 summer calendar might be filled with more fitness festivals than music festivals (luckily, bare stomachs are encouraged at both, so your favorite crop top can pull double duty).
The rise of fitness festivals points to another growing trend in the industry; namely, that working out has surpassed brunch as a way to socialize with friends. “Instead of organizing happy hour with colleagues or meeting friends for dinner, more people than ever are choosing to sweat it out together,” says Castelli. “It’s a win-win: They get a good workout in and can connect more deeply because of their shared experience.”
The combo of exercise and social time will only grow as more resorts and vacation companies cater to the fitness experience. SoulCycle recently announced a retreat partnership with luxury travel group Black Tomato, and yoga retreats are steadily becoming the cool way to get a mental health reset for stressed-out millennials.
The Future: In-Home High-Tech Workouts
Peloton, Mirror, NordicTrack and TONAL are just a few of the tech companies leading the charge into in-home fitness. Sure, there’s still YouTube and a yoga mat, but the big push in the next decade will be to sell high-end fitness hardware loaded with tons of content and led by “enter-trainers” who build their own devoted followings.
“It allows people with busy schedules and or lack of access to quality gyms to create their own home gyms,” says Liles. “Businesses have caught on that by creating equipment that streams live classes, they can tap into both the convenience factor and people’s need for community. This will definitely expand in the next decade.”
The in-home hardware ties into another growing trend: data-driven workouts. With smart fitness equipment and workout-tracking wearables, it’s easy to monitor your progress.
The Future: Fitness as a Life Tool
Increasingly, people are seeing working out as a way to improve the rest of their lives. That means taking a yoga class to improve focus at work or heading to kickboxing because it helps alleviate relationship stress. “The next decade will be more about how physical activity impacts your life outside of the gym,” says Peterson. “When we work out regularly, we’re more patient spouses, we’re better to our kids, we can do more activities on vacation. The gym is like life prep, and I think trends are going to go that direction.”
In the decade to come, rather than running on the treadmill to get fit for a specific race or hitting the bike to drop 10 pounds, you might find yourself going to the gym simply because it feels… right. Peterson concludes, “Everything you do inside the gym makes everything you do outside the gym better.”
Whatever the next decade holds, you can start your own trend right now by making a workout plan to achieve your personal fitness goals. See you in 2030!