The votes have landed. The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) has released the results of its much-talked about annual survey into the hottest fitness trends in 2021. As you would expect, it reviews trends that are on the rise, alongside charting those that are also falling out of favour.

What’s the top trend?

Based on feedback from thousands of individuals and organisations working in the sports and training profession, this survey unsurprisingly found that a move towards online training has been the biggest trend in the last 12 months, because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, what are the other trends? And more importantly – which of them can you find at EMS (we’ll give you a hint – it’s more like which one can’t you find amongst the huge range of services we offer).

The Top 20 List and EMS Fitness Services

This is the top 20 list according to the ACSM survey. The following trends are hitting the right note with fitness fans all around the globe – and we’ve also taken the liberty of talking about how we’re right on the money with each one at EMS Fitness…

  • Online training – as you would expect with COVID, the world has been getting fit through the lens of a webcam. Something we have really embraced at EMS Fitness with classes and individual sessions keeping the faith through this difficult time. We currently offer training sessions over Zoom, and even though our gym is open, many clients still prefer the convenience and ease of working out in their own homes using this video conferencing software.


  • Wearable technology – still going strong after being the top fitness trend in previous years, wearable fitness trackers (such as Fitbit, Samsung Gear Fit2, Garmin and Apple devices) offer users trackable fitness metrics such as heart rate, body temperature, calorific burn, daily pedometer readings and so much more. Now estimated to create revenues of around $100bn annually, this technology gives people real time feedback to support their training.


  • Bodyweight exercises – with COVID-19 leaving many people unable to access gyms, unsurprisingly bodyweight exercises have come back into fashion in a big way. Push ups, squats, sit ups and pull ups are all great ways to train without spending a huge amount of money. Because it requires little to no equipment, it’s a great way to get some sound functional training without spending large amounts of money.


  • Outdoor activities – all of our trainers have been working with clients in the fresh air. We’ve always been proponents of outside training at EMS fitness (Xavi has offered outside training at his site for the last few years). We have been training clients in a diverse range of locations from riverside parks through to back gardens, complete with kettlebells, medicine balls, skipping ropes and most importantly, the guidance and motivation to help them get the most out of their sessions.


  • HIIT – high intensity interval training is comprised of many short bursts of various training exercises with even shorter breaks between them. It’s proven to boost your metabolism and increase heart rate, getting the best out of you and your body. It’s been one of the top trends over the past few years, and we’ve enjoyed offering HIIT classes to our clients – modifying exercises to suit all levels of fitness and ability.


  • Virtual training – this is the first one EMS doesn’t offer. Virtual reality training with gyms that only exist in cyberspace is a new trend for the industry. Will it last when people can go back to the gyms? Whilst some things are great in virtual reality – like games – we wonder if gyms will ever be truly digital…


  • Exercise is medicine – EMS receives referrals from doctors and physiotherapists, to help their clients achieve a healthy levels of activity and exercise, which in turn form the foundation for a strong metabolism. Exercise as medicine has become more popular over the last decade thanks to the supporting global health initiative of the same name, designed to encourage patients to work with fitness professionals.


  • Strength training with free weights – get those dumb-bells working. Ready for some bench press action? How about squatting with that kettlebell? EMS Fitness has made strength training with free weights a core part of our offering since day one. Strength training is an essential pillar of the EMS MSMS approach – and is becoming very popular with many clients. However, because of the huge stresses heavy weights can place on the body, it is essential that anyone looking to train for strength works with a trained professional who can ensure that their form and progression is appropriate. Squats, deadlifts and bench presses all require good form to avoid injury.


  • Fitness training for older adults ­– now that people are living longer, working beyond normal retirement and still remaining active well into the sunset years, its never been more important for them to use fitness training to help maintain independence and have the strength to cope with day to day life. At EMS Fitness we work with many adults over the age of 65 and thanks to our extensive training qualifications, we understand how to give these clients the best support and advice.


  • Personal training ­– we are personal trainers. Every single member of the EMS Fitness prides themselves on being the best personal trainers they can be. It’s in our blood; we create individual plans designed around specific client goals, strengths and weaknesses, and target outcomes. To ensure we get the best out of every session with our clients, we include fitness training and vary the workouts to create progression and keep engagement. We have many clients who have worked with us for a number of years – supporting them in achieving their long term goals.


  • Health and wellness coaching – there has been an increasing trend over the past few years in the gym industry to get clients to combine fitness activities in the gym with other wellness activities. With EMS Fitness we are able to help clients with subsidiary services that offer behavioural support, such as diet and nutritional advice and working on both short term and long term lifestyle and fitness goals.


  • Mobile exercise apps – along with the rise of smartphone technology there has been an increase in the popularity of fitness apps, such as Strava, MyFitnessPal, MapMyRun and RunKeeper. At EMS Fitness we often advise our clients to use these alongside their regular training schedules and have found that MyFitnessPal is one of the best complements to training, helping them understand their calorie intake and macronutrients.


  • Employed certified fitness professionals ­– fitness is serious business. People want to know they’re getting the best advice, especially as strength and conditioning exercises need to be completed with the best form possible to avoid injury – so it’s no surprise to see this entry into the trends list for 2021. At EMS this has always been a core part of our approach – we are educated in the science behind the exercise (all our PTs have a BSC in sport science and exercise) giving our clients the support they need to get the most out of their training.


  • Functional fitness training – gives people a whole body workout, focusing on building strength and flexibility. Using whole body movements including weight training, kettlebells and cardio equipment, EMS trainers use functional training to support recovery from injury, to build full body strength and give our clients more energy to face the challenges of day to day life.


  • Yoga – yoga has been hugely popular for many years now so it’s no surprise to see it in the list of trends for 2021. Sarah (one of our trainers) has held yoga classes in the past, helping people get their stretch on and maintain flexibility. And we can even offer one-to-one yoga sessions on request.


  • Exercise for weight loss – has been a regular entry into the top fitness trends ever since the survey began. It is a core service that we offer at EMS Fitness, providing customised schedules of training activity complete with nutritional advice to help you clients shed the pounds and get the body they desire. Using a mix of strength, cardio, HIIT and even boxing training, we focus on calorie burning movements, active recovery and key fitness interventions


  • Group training – it’s been hard during the lockdown, but we kept it going for people who wanted to work out on Mondays and Saturdays. We’ve noticed a reduced demand recently (many people have struggled to keep to training schedules) – and we have plans to offer classes once more as soon as we are permitted by the government.


  • Lifestyle medicine – fitness doesn’t just start and finish at the gym. And as a result lifestyle medicine has recently appeared in the top 20 fitness trends for the last 2 years. It’s about supporting people with advice about wider lifestyle issues – which is something we work with at EMS Fitness, helping our clients develop different attitudes towards diet and physical activity outside of the gym whilst removing unhealthy negative behaviours such as smoking tobacco and drinking alcohol.


  • Fitness qualifications – with such a range of different gyms and training modalities available, an increasing number of people want to know about the trainers’ credentials – making fitness qualifications number 19 on the list of trends. At EMS Fitness, we take pride that all of our trainers and advise comes from our qualifications – and we’re possibly have the best trained team out of every Norwich gym.


  • Outcome measurements – we constantly track and record data from our sessions with clients, helping them focus on their outcomes. EMS Fitness uses measurements and metrics to help our clients understand their progress, showing them how far they have come using our support.


And there’s more?

Yes, we’re exhausted just from writing that list – so you’re probably reaching for a cup of green tea or a juice smoothie after reading all of that. But it goes to show that the list of facilities and exercise disciplines at EMS Fitness are truly comprehensive.

And as many of our clients will tell you, we’ve made online training a cornerstone of our business. But of course, we are adaptable and because of COVID online training has been an essential part of our service. In 2022 we hope to be back to focusing on one to one personal training and group classes, as we feel that online training will no longer be the first place on this list.

The last word…

One of the most important stipulations in the supporting materials that accompany the ACSM study is the need for well trained fitness professionals to ensure you are exercising properly. Bad form and poor technique can cause a lifetime’s worth of damage…

If you want to work with experienced trainers (we have Sports and Exercise Science BSCs, Master’s Degrees, Personal Training and Nutrition Qualifications) then give us a call or send an email and let us know what you need.