Wellbeing

The Health And Fitness Trends That Will Dominate In 2018

I might not have a crystal ball to look into, but I have a pilates ball right here and that seems much more appropriate for the task of predicting trends in fitness and wellbeing. If I’m wrong, perhaps I’m too far ahead of my time. But these trends have been forged by market leaders in Europe and the US, and it’s a matter of time before the rest of us follow.

Here are the trends set to take over in 2018.

#1 The rise of boutique gyms

Yes, every gym in every street appears to be a 24/7 facility right now, but what is sacrificed when running a 24/7 venue is highly skilled, attentive customer service, fitness trainers, class options and a sense of community and customisable memberships. It’s the fast food option in a world of hospitality.

People are becoming much more conscientious about where their dollars are going and what returns they’re getting. Sure, you can heft some dumbbells at 3am but if there’s not a skilled trainer there educating you on form, or staff there to greet you by name, the true value of your gym membership is absent.

A focus on the link between mind and body used to be a niche interest of yoga studios. Now, it’s becoming a part of most community and major gym chains (as well as workplace employee programs).

This might mean a range of yoga and meditation classes, or it may be healthy food workshops, customised apps that measure mood and sleep linked to your personal trainer. These are the ways gyms and fitness centres are offering their members genuine quality and return on their investment.

fitness gym wellness trends 2018

#2 Assisted stretching labs

The end of your personal training session involves the trainer giving you a good, thorough stretch session with guided use of foam rollers, elastics and a stretch worthy of a pro football player at the end of a game. It’s one level off a Thai Massage (ever had someone walk over your back? Surprisingly restorative!).

What if you could skip the workout or the price of a massage and go to a studio specifically for an assisted, professionally administered stretch? Saul, Tim and Steve began Stretchlab in the US to offer just this. Where the US paves the path, Australia often (slowly) follows suit.

#3 Tailor made membership

Do you want to attend one class a week and only use the gym between 9 and noon? Do you want unlimited classes but no pool, no gym and no spa access? Do you want 3 personal training sessions a week and a nutrition assessment once a month?

This is the future of fitness, and signals an overall shift in the industry: individualised goals, plan and, now, a membership that is customised entirely to these factors.

#4 Interactive high-tech spaces

Immersive physical environments with audio-visual installations and systems are already part of the studio experience overseas. Nike lead the way with a three day fiesta of custom screen projections, a DJ-curated soundtrack and live orchestra for Unlimited You, launched just prior to the Rio Olympics in 2016. As workout participants progressed, lighting and visuals altered to generate new landscapes, altering the focus, perceived exhaustion and overall mood.

ChromaYoga in London combines curated soundscapes, chakra-coloured lighting and aromatherapy to create an immersive meditation experience for all the senses. Many gyms now offer their own magazines, branded workout wear, trademarked classes and Smartphone apps. This is set to continue with even greater in-house focus on marketing, media and technology.

Rather than outsourcing to agencies, more and more fitness organisations are likely to hire their own media and technology professionals to create targeted content, responsive phone and wearable technology, and customisable news and education offerings for members.

#5 ‘Prehabilitation’

With high-powered workouts and popular fitness events like CrossFit, HIIT, Tough Mudder and marathons worldwide, it’s inevitable that people of all ages and fitness levels will get injured during or after the workout.

Prehabilitation programs are big in the UK in particular. These are tailored programs designed and delivered by physiotherapists to prepare bodies for particular sports, events, travel, competitions and even for surgery. Based on the principles of Exercise Physiology, each body is thoroughly analysed for postural alignment, movement, mobility, inefficiencies, strength and imbalances.

A program is then devised to address weaknesses with structured exercises, recovery programs, stretches, massage and in some cases dry needling, acupressure, infrared sauna and more.

For women, assessment of pelvic floor strength and engagement can be measured using ultrasound – for those who intend to be doing plenty of core work or who are returning to intensive workouts and core work, this is a smart move.

#6 No-join passes

Long gone is the time when we lived in one place, with one job, for extended periods. The typical gym structure of a membership to one location with join-up, long term contract and exit fees still exists but it is being succeeded by flexible options such as No Fee To Join options, memberships that allow access to a network of clubs, purely group fitness access or purely gym access.

Options like ClassPass are allowing residents and travellers alike to choose where they train and when – whether it’s a yoga class next door or a cycling class next to the weekend beach retreat you’re at, or even BodyPump during a work conference interstate. Flexibility rules.


Cat Woods is a writer, editor and blogger in Melbourne. She is also a yoga, barre and pilates instructor with a passion for fitness, lipstick, ’90s electroclash and yoga pants.