Fitness had a bumper year in 2020 and it’s not about to slow down in 2021.
When the pandemic hit last year, it became apparent quite quickly that health and wellness were two of the most under-valued aspects of people’s lives. As people strived to live better lives amidst the panic and lockdowns, we witnessed a newfound appreciation for physical and mental wellness, be it sweating it out at home or taking time to switch off from the world.
With this enthusiasm came innovation on all fronts. Brands have been forced to rethink their business models in order to reach out to more people, especially at home. Features like social sharing components and on-demand workouts hit peak popularity, but many have gone the extra mile to also incorporate personalisation. After all, we’re so different in so many ways.
This idea of personalisation manifests itself in many ways as you’ll see below, but they all point to one thing: The fact that people are getting less caught up in cookie-cutter ideals and more in tuned with their own specific needs. After all, wellness boils down to feeling good, and we’ll need all the endorphin boost we can get to take on the brand new year.
From cellular fitness and mindful eating to hyper-personalised workouts, here are the fitness trends for 2021 that we’ll be embracing.
We’ve always thought about stress as a bad thing, but the fitness world is moving to harness its untapped potential to push our bodies harder — but not hard enough to hit a burnout. Cellular stress tests have long been used to measure how the body reacts when cells are exposed to stress via the levels of harmful by-products released.
The goal then, is to build an exercise routine around this personalised physiological result, which should ultimately encourage you to muster that extra rep with the knowledge that it wouldn’t place any unnecessary stress on your body that may eventually lead to chronic inflammation, wear and tear, and a weakened immunity. This positive stimulation should trigger cells to adapt and become more resilient for more efficient (and safer) results in the long run.
Really listening to your body
Self-care and mental health might’ve taken big leaps forward in 2020, but they’re only going to get bigger this year. Besides an even greater demand for restorative fitness genres such as yoga, Pilates and barre, people will also become increasingly aware of mindful eating and intuitive eating. This means that restrictive diets — which usually demonises a certain macronutrient like fat or carbohydrates — will finally be replaced by more sustainable methods that are kinder to your mind and body.
Mindful eating, for example, encourages you to pay attention to the food you eat as you buy, prepare and consume it. This also involves choosing foods that are nutritionally healthy, removing distractions like Netflix and Instagram while you eat, and stopping when you feel full. On the other hand, intuitive eating makes you the expert of your body and its hunger signals by rejecting the diet mentality fully, allowing you to let go of the guilt associated with eating. Besides better psychological health in the long run, it should give you a deeper understanding of your body and how to better respect and honour it with the food you choose.
Quickies for days
Not everyone has the luxury of an hour at the gym everyday, but the good news is that 20- to 30-minute classes are even more in vogue now. These short, high-intensity workouts can give more bang for your buck in terms of calorie burn while increasing your aerobic endurance and fat-burning capabilities, even long after your session.
Supplement this with a power walk around your neighbourhood or a dip in the pool on your off days, and you’ll not only keep different muscles active, but also make workouts fresh and most importantly, sustainable and achievable in the long run.
Going (even more) digital
If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s how much the tech industry has improved in the fitness world, and it’ll most likely continue to thrive and dominate in the year ahead. Besides working out digitally at home with apps like Nike Training Club (now totally free!), Apple Fitness+, and Centr, fitness buffs are also looking to wearables to give them unparalleled insight into performance.
The latest Apple Watch for instance, is constantly tracking your activity, blood oxygen levels, heart rate, and sleep so you get an easily digestible report every week and month on your progress. Garmin’s Venu Sq also takes well-being to the next level with its suite of health monitoring features, which includes advanced heart rate monitoring, as well as sleep, respiration, stress, and hydration tracking.
Extra personalised workouts
If you do manage to find time to exercise, chances are you don’t want to waste a rep on anything that won’t yield maximum results. People are looking towards hyper-personalised workouts, both at home and at the gym, to ensure that they’re making the most of the time.
Apple Fitness+, for example, has included a custom recommendation engine that dishes out personalised recommendations. Its intuitive filtering tool enables users to highlight what is most important to them in a workout, whether it’s the workout type, the trainer, the duration, or the music.
Over at the gym, Technogym’s latest innovation, Biocircuit (pictured above) is another cutting-edge offering that guides its user through a customised circuit program, and automatically sets up each equipment according to the user size and workload, including the seat position. This machine learning enables the tracking and storing of the user’s biomechanics and other personal analytics, before creating a circuit workout that delivers the best results in a short amount of time. If anything, this will finally disrupt the one-size-fits-all equipment model that we’ve been subjected to.