For those who exercise regularly, 2020 forced you to alter your schedule, vary your routine, and get creative to maintain your fitness. With 2021 around the corner, many fitness enthusiasts and experts are bracing for another year of patience, given the pandemic.
That is not bad news for everyone. Here are five trends we will likely take into 2021, and how they can help you stay on top of your fitness game.
Trend #1: Virtual fitness will still be a valuable tool
The COVID-19 pandemic created a boom in virtual fitness classes. Going to that Pilates, Zumba or group HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) class with friends has turned into calorie-torching Zoom sessions for many of us.
As the pandemic plays out, fitness studios and gyms have re-opened with smaller groups, partly because many possible participants prudently decided to stay at home.
Even given the itch to return to the gym, virtual classes should still be a part of your workout plans. If you have access to a gym, that is great. But with the situation still in flux, while keeping virtual programs handy, you can still bounce between in-studio workouts and at-home or outdoor programs. That way, if the gym or studio closes again, you will not have to stop your fitness schedule entirely.
Trend #2: Outdoor Fitness Will Keep Growing
With lockdowns, yes, we’ve gone indoors for virtual fitness, but many have also embraced doing more in their neighborhood, at the local park, or anywhere else where they can effectively social distance and enjoy a beautiful day. Creative aficionados of fitness have relied on outdoor boot camps, yoga and Pilates classes in the park (weather-permitting, of course), with the additional options of jogging or riding a bicycle.
This trend will not ease up in 2021. ClassPass, which offers thousands of online exercise programs, and has more than 2,000 studio locations around the U.S., saw a 400% increase in outdoor classes in 2020; its 2021 trends survey found four out of five participants said they were willing to try an outdoor class this year.
Getting out, whether by yourself or with others, can lift your spirits and rejuvenate anyone suffering a case of cabin fever. We say go for it!
Trend #3: Technology and exercise continue mingling
Apps and other technology beyond Zoom and other video-conferencing tools has had an impact on fitness in 2020. Expect that to continue in 2021. Embrace the ones that work for you.
For those who have really gotten cozy with their in-home gym, interactive programs like Peloton and The Mirror give you access to fitness experts and groups of people all around the globe wanting to compete with and encourage one another through a virtual in-home fitness class experience. These technologies have literally shaped online communities of exercise enthusiasts, building camaraderie and competition that keeps millions on schedule and excited about fitness.
Fitness trackers such as Fitbit, Garmin and even Apple Watches, are still at the heart of the wearable tech wave, which started around 2015. If tracking your steps, calories, heart rate and activity level motivates you, these tools are relatively inexpensive and a refreshing change for many second adopters who have not splurged on one of these devices yet.
Trend #4: COVID fitness, a growing conversation
Today, there’s a new type of fitness participant joining the crowd: The COVID survivor. For anyone who has experienced the virus’s symptoms, it can be a very slow road to recovery. For some, it can take months to get back to their previous physical normal.
More and more trainers and health professionals are designing programs to ease people back into exercise. Expect to see more of these types of courses in 2021, as the pandemic unwinds and we learn more about the virus. The good news is that if you’ve had COVID and are struggling to get back to your fitness schedule, there are resources to help.
Trend #5: Mind-body connection will be as important as ever
If we’ve learned anything this year, it’s that the mental toll of the pandemic is certainly real. This has spurred an even greater drive for more body-mind connection exercise.
“This desire is triggered not only by job-related stress, also by the strenuous homeschooling with children or financial and health fears in connection with the pandemic,” added Lars Becker, an expert for ISPO.com, an international network and trade fair for sporting goods and sportswear enterprises.
Mindfulness training and meditation, muscle relaxation exercises, biofeedback and yoga are helpful ways to nourish your physical and mental well-being. These exercises can now be incorporated with other more rigorous programs or be added as stand-alone techniques before or after workouts or at certain parts of the day to help you feel mentally, as well as physically, fit.
Whether you’ve been able to maintain your fitness level through 2020 or not isn’t really what matters right now. As we turn the calendar to 2021, it’s about leveraging what was learned in 2020 to maintain optimal health for years to come.