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Top Fitness Trends for 2021 Revealed

On so many levels, 2020 was a year to remember. Even when it came to our general fitness and health, fresh trends emerged from our ‘new normal’. If you found yourself suddenly changing the way you workout – be that swapping the gym for exercising at home or trying a new type of training outdoors – then you were part of this transitional trend. 

Across the globe, there was a seismic shift in the way we approach fitness because of the pandemic. A recent study published in the ACSM’s Health & Fitness Journal indicated that wearable tech, HIIT, group training, as well as training with free weights, were some of the most popular fitness trends in 2020, according to thousands of surveyed fitness professionals. 

The ACSM has also released their 2021 fitness trends predictions, and if they’re right, online training, wearable tech, bodyweight training, outdoor activities, and HIIT will continue to be popular. While (more than ever) we can’t know exactly what to expect from the year ahead, we’ve taken the ACSM’s predictions, mixed them with our forecast, and outlined some of our projected top fitness trends (in no particular order) that could help you reach your goals in 2021.

1. NETFLIX OF THE WORKOUT WORLD

Here at Polar, we’re officially rebranding ‘Netflix and chill’ as ‘stream and workout‘ in 2021. Many big-name fitness brands have created subscription-based virtual streaming services designed to replicate a guided group session in the comfort, convenience (and safety) of your home.

For example, Les Mills On Demand offers access to over 600 online workouts, YogaWorks has created an on-demand library of over 1,000 guided yoga classes, and brands like MYXfitness and Peloton offer a live, interactive platform to work out with others in real-time. Think of these as a modern-day Richard Simmons VHS tape — minus the neon spandex and electronic music.

Try our Polar Workout Generator for fresh (and free!) workout ideas, tailored to your needs.

2. NERDING OUT ON DATA

Wearable technology is not only smarter but also more relevant than ever before. According to the ACSM, this market includes fitness trackers, smartwatches, heart rate sensors, and GPS sports watches that can not only track your heart rate and calories but help with your mindfulness and optimize your sleep and recovery.

These devices are a great way to keep tabs on your fitness and will provide you with data so you can track and compare your progress over time. Polar Ignite and Unite fitness trackers include a 24/7 wrist-based heart rate, making them the perfect daily tool to monitor your fitness in 2021.

3. KEEPING WORKOUTS SIMPLE

Piggybacking off their popularity in 2020, bodyweight workouts are another projected fitness trend for the new year. Since we’ve had to say goodbye to the gym (and all the unnecessary equipment), it’s completely possible to create a killer training plan just by using your body weight as resistance. 

Bodyweight exercises include pullups, pushups, crunches, planks, squats, etc. and they can be done anytime, anywhere. Looking for inspiration? Try these low-impact or animal move exercises.

fitness trends

4. THE GREAT OUTDOORS

We’ve turned nature into one big gym recently, with so many of us hitting the parks and trails in our local area. Let’s face it: getting out of the house for fresh air and exercise is one of the greatest joys in life right now, and we don’t see that stopping any time soon. Whether you’re trying an outdoor workout or looking for an active adventure, make sure you bring a running or multisport watch to monitor your efforts! 

When restrictions allow, why not try meeting up with friends to make it a collective experience? Small group walks, group rides or organized group hikes can be anything from a few hours to a whole weekend excursion. 

5. HIIT IS HERE TO STAY

A mainstay of the top five trends since 2014, we expect HIIT (high-intensity interval training) to stick around in 2021. In short, the results you can achieve are undeniable. Plus, there’s no better way to get a complete, gym-free workout than with some intense circuits, especially for working professionals short on time.

HIIT is all about movement and workout efficiency, which means it fits perfectly with our new fitness lifestyle too. You can do HIIT anywhere: in your living room, outdoors, or even at a local studio (if and when they reopen). 

Of course, too much ‘high intensity’ isn’t a good thing. You should always make sure there is variety in your training and you allow time to recover properly after a demanding workout (check out the next trend below for some refreshing ideas). We also gave anti-HIIT a try in 2020 and recommend adding it to your training plan when you fancy something low-intensity.

Ready to HIIT it? Give one of our workouts a try – at home or outdoors!

6. REFRESHING AND RESETTING

Working out is only half the battle of getting and staying in shape — a proper recovery plan is just as important. Firstly, you need to understand your sleep. Polar’s Nightly Recharge™ is a simple yet insightful tool for understanding not just how long you rested but how your Autonomic Nervous System recharged. From there, FitSpark™ can make tailored recommendations on how you should exercise each day.

Knowing how to effectively recover after your workout is also a key part of helping you refresh – whether that be a rest day or active recovery. Reducing your stress and enhancing your mindfulness also has a huge impact on how you recover and recharge. Polar’s Serene™ breathing exercises are a great way to relax, while you can practice mindfulness during your workouts too.

7. USING EXERCISE AS MEDICINE

The ACSM has created an initiative encouraging more primary care physicians to include physical activity assessments and recommendations during each patient check-up.

This trend has been increasing over the years, with patients being referred to fitness professionals as a way to combat preventable and treatable diseases, instead of turning to pharmaceutical alternatives. We couldn’t be more in favor of this and hope this becomes a more popular practice in 2021.

If you liked this post, don’t forget to share so that others can find it, too.

Please note that the information provided in the Polar Blog articles cannot replace individual advice from health professionals. Please consult your physician before starting a new fitness program.

Outdoor workout with personal trainer Jack Hanrahan
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