SAN DIEGO -- The economy is on the rise, and that means more people will resume their personal training and gym memberships. At least that’s the thought of many of the 2,700 fitness industry professionals surveyed by the American Council on Exercise (ACE). The respondents chose an economic upswing as the top fitness trend for 2011.

“After what has been a tough couple of years economically, things are looking up as far as the fitness industry is concerned,” ACE’s Chief Science Officer, Cedric X. Bryant, said in a release. “Consumers are ready to focus on improving their overall health. We will witness an increase not only in personal training but in value-added wellness services such as nutritional counseling by registered dietitians at gyms and fitness clubs, corporate wellness plans and youth-based fitness curriculum. Additionally, we will see a continued trend toward working out with a buddy or within small groups for motivation, as well as continued interest in boot camp-style workouts, unique activity options like Zumba, TRX Suspension and interval training.”

Last year’s survey of top trends for 2010 reflected a less optimistic outlook than this year's survey. The top trend for 2010 was cost-conscious workouts. Group training and time-efficient workouts came in second and third place, respectively.

In addition, a recent survey by the American College of Sports Medicine said that the top trend for 2011 would be a demand for properly certified and educated personal trainers. That trend also appears on ACE’s list, but at No. 10.

The following are the top 10 trends for 2011, as determined by the survey respondents:

  1. Economic Upswing. In general, consumers are preparing for an economic upswing that is motivating more individuals to resume their personal training and fitness regimens. This promising shift also was observed in ACE’s 2010 Fitness Professionals Salary Survey, which showed an overall increase in annual salary rates and benefits for full-time fitness professionals across all categories this past year.
  2. Added-Value Wellness Services. More gyms and clubs will begin to hire other allied health care professionals to serve the expanding needs of their health-conscious members.
  3. Stress Reduction Through Fitness. With the increased knowledge of how stress negatively affects the body, club operators will start offering wellness programs so their members develop effective strategies for managing their stress levels. Consumers can expect to see new and improved programming to help alleviate this all-too-common by-product of today’s time-pressured lifestyles.
  4. Technology Becomes a Support Resource. Social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube will become increasingly popular serving as an online motivational support system to complement personal training sessions.
  5. Buddy System. Healthy support groups will become a more popular offering in clubs due to peer encouragement and increased potential for success. This thinking also holds true for older adults with the majority of them seeking group classes to stay fit.
  6. Most Popular Workouts. Boot camp-style workouts will remain popular among consumers based on their intensity and efficiency. Dance classes will also remain popular as will suspension training and interval training.
  7. Small Group Workouts. Small group sessions remain a popular way for individuals to exercise. Whether through personal training, strength training, cardiovascular exercise or sessions for older adults, small group sessions will be “in” as a way to socialize, cut costs and stay motivated.
  8. Youth-based Fitness. Expect to see more youth-focused classes and clients popping up in gyms thanks to the national attention and focus on childhood obesity. Schools and fitness centers also will incorporate more exercise curriculum for the youth population.
  9. Corporate Wellness. Whether it is through the hiring of in-house personal trainers or discounts and incentives offered to employees who join a health club, corporate wellness programs will merge country-wide to help encourage healthy lifestyles among workers, especially time-crunched consumers.
  10. Elevated Professionalism. Fitness facility owners and operators will increase the hiring of personal trainers who hold a NCCA-accredited certification.