Published: 21 December 2020. Written by: Georgie Lane-Godfrey
Say goodbye to the year of the home workout. When it comes to fitness, the next 12 months look a lot more exciting.
One thing’s for sure – 2020 transformed our lives completely. One of the areas we felt that most? In the world of fitness. Gone were our usual trips to the gym, along with the Monday morning scramble to book our regular classes. Instead, people keen to continue training had to adapt their workouts to their living rooms, whether that meant kitting themselves out with a home gym, streaming YouTube classes or awkwardly doing tricep dips off the sofa.
If we do get back to something that looks more like normal life in 2021, does that mean we’ll be heading straight back to our pre-2020 exercise routines? Or are we stepping into a brave new world of workouts?
Here, we unpick the biggest fitness trends to prepare for in 2021…
Wearable technology is here to stay
Keen to optimise our home workouts, fitness trackers like Apple Watches, Fitbit, Polar and Garmin devices became 2020’s must-wear accessories. There’s good reason for it, too – research shows using a fitness tracker for just 12 weeks can help increase and maintain your overall physical activity for years to come. Plus, you can earn Vitality points for tracking your activity, too…
That tracking trend is only set to grow in 2021 as new tech designed to improve performance emerges on the scene.
One of these devices is NuroKor, which uses bioelectronic technology to both enhance performance and help treat chronic pain. ‘Bioelectronic devices administer a low dose electrical current to elicit a physiological response – either pain relief or tissue repair,’ explains GP Dr Leah Austin. ‘This also improves exercise recovery and optimises the body’s tissues, maximising performance.’
Meanwhile, devices providing specialised metrics are also set to take off. INCUS trackers were originally designed for swimmers, to monitor stroke performance via body angle, pitch and velocity gain.
Similarly for runners, STRIDESENSE uses 3D tracking technology to capture data from leg movement for more personalised feedback on performance.
People will invest in heavy-duty home equipment
Sure, you can achieve a lot with a couple of dumbbells and an exercise ball at home, but 2021 will see more people investing in heavy-duty home equipment – and one of the companies at the forefront of that movement will be Peloton.
With a current three-month waiting list for its stationary bikes, multi-billion-dollar fitness company Peloton established itself as the biggest name on the indoor cycling scene this year. And it is now about to launch a treadmill in the UK.
Not only is the equipment top-spec, but you can pay monthly (so no need for one major lump sum payout) and also become a member of the fitness club, eligible to join classes with leading instructors streamed via the screen attached to the equipment.
‘We’re living in a time now where people are much more focused on incorporating health and wellness into their lives, in whatever form that takes,’ says Kevin Cornils, Peloton’s International Managing Director. ‘While gyms still serve a purpose for some consumers, digital technology is enabling people to take control of their lives and make their workouts that much more accessible and convenient.’
Of course, at £1,750, the cheapest piece of Peloton kit is still going to put a dent in anyone’s bank account (even via monthly payments). But, in 2021, a huge studio will be opening in London’s Covent Garden, recording and broadcasting live classes in a bid to make them more inclusive for anyone who can’t stretch to their own Peloton bike at home.
Digital fitness communities will grow
From barre classes to yoga sessions and HIIT workouts, fitness brands and gyms have spent 2020 digitalising training programmes to provide them both on demand and via live streaming. The result? An instant digital community accessible from your front room.
In 2021, these communities are set to grow even bigger, as companies expand into virtual events as well as classes. For example, Auro – the personal training app – is partnering with Cancer Research UK to host a virtual 10k run in February, building a community of runners by helping them train for the event.
Workouts for the body AND mind
Any yoga convert knows the concept of training that strengthens the mind as well as the body isn’t new. However, the pandemic really brought the importance of fitness as a mental health benefit to the fore.
This explains the emergence of spaces like hero Training, the UK’s first mental and physical wellbeing gym. Based in Manchester, it combines counsellors, physiotherapists and nutritionists with physical fitness classes under one roof, for a holistic approach to health.
‘More people are now making the link between physical and mental health,’ says Laura Brown, Head Coach at hero. ‘In response, gyms and studios are creating offerings that specifically address this, such as community-driven classes that integrate positive affirmations, so that fitness shifts beyond just aesthetics.’
Getting outside more will be the norm
Never have the ideas of ‘getting some fresh air’ and ‘green exercise’ been so important. No surprise then that people will be heading out as much as possible in 2021.
A 2018 study found that time spent in nature can reduce the risk of Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, premature death, preterm birth, stress, and high blood pressure. Outdoor exercise is also proven to reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety, helping boost mental health. Not to mention the benefit of getting a dose of vitamin D from sunlight exposure, too…
So, as well as our usual team sports, couch-to-5k programmes and long bike rides, 2021 promises more adventurous activities as part of the trend for alfresco exercise. Expect wilderness-focused programmes such as sea kayaking, rock climbing and wild swimming to be filling up your Instagram feed next summer, as we make the most of our new-found freedom to explore the great outdoors both here in the UK and further afield.
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