Pabst Blue Ribbon. Big headphones. Bill Clinton. Do you know what all of these have in common? They were once popular, then they were not, and now they are popular again. I don't think you can be a card-carrying hipster if you use the standard-issue iPod headphones. In fact, here is a little known fact: Other than the Great Wall of China, the only other visible structures from space are those ridiculous oversized headphones.

And you know what else is cyclical? Fitness. I have been in this industry for 10 years, and I have (finally) lived through my first full cycle. It looked something like this chart. (Forgive me if I forgot anything, but I think you get the idea.)

So I am somewhat skeptical when I read about the death of the latest fad. Progress, whether in club management software or how we work out, is inevitable. But unlike technology that never rolls back (I don't use my AOL account and have no plans to go back to it), in fitness, a fad that has lost its luster will eventually be rediscovered. Someone will give it a new name or a new angle, add pop music, update some of the movements, and there you have it—it is new again.

So let's go back and look at a specific year. Lots of groups put together a fitness trends list. I reviewed the American College of Sports Medicine's (ACSM) list, and here are the top five trends on its list for this year:

  1. Certified and educated fitness professionals
  2. Strength training
  3. Fitness programs for older adults
  4. Exercise with diet for weight loss
  5. Childhood and obesity prevention

This list is a good one, but it is difficult to determine what year it refers to because the trends on it are applicable to any number of years since 1999. And just to prove my point, here is another list of the top five trends from another year:

  1. Educated and experienced fitness professionals 
  2. Strength training 
  3. Children and obesity 
  4. Personal training 
  5. Core training