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2019 Fitness Trends and What They Mean for Your Fitness Business

With the start of each New Year, there is a renewed focus on fitness. Suddenly, it seems as if getting to the gym or making it to class is at the top of everyone’s list.

In this spirit, Mindbody is releasing a series of research reports as part of our 2019 Mindbody Wellness Index characterizing the strength of the wellness markets across America. As part of this series, we’ve developed a special report focusing on consumer fitness behavior in the US.

Among the key findings of the 2019 Fitness in America report, fitness business owners will learn the answers to the following questions:

  • How important is exercise to Americans?
  • How frequently are Americans working out and what motivates them to exercise?
  • What exercises and fitness types are currently most popular?
  • What do people want to try next?
  • How do age and gender impact fitness?
  • What are the obstacles preventing people from living healthier lives and engaging with fitness?

Read on or download our report to find out how your fitness studio or gym can capitalize on 2019’s upcoming trends, attract new customers, and motivate your members most effectively.

    How important is fitness to Americans?

    Our research found that more than three-quarters of Americans prioritize fitness (at least when they can). That’s good news, right? But how successful are they?

    Graph showing the relationship with fitness

    The US Department of Health and Human Services recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity, or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity, each week and muscle-strengthening activities on two or more days a week. As the chart below shows, over 40% of Americans in all age groups we surveyed (and potentially more, depending on the intensity, type and length of the exercises they are doing) are missing this target. This means there’s plenty of opportunity for fitness providers to engage more consumers to help them live happier, healthier lives.

    Graph showing the frequency of exercise and how many are not meeting physical activity guidelines

    What's the most popular form of fitness?

    Walking is the most popular form of independent exercise; 68% percent of Americans report that walking is a part of their regular exercise routine. And walking’s popularity increases with age, with over three-quarters of Americans age 46-65 engaging in this activity.

    The next most popular type of exercise is weight/strength training, with cardio machines coming in third. Yoga, which many people may consider a group exercise format, also ranks high as a form of individual exercise, with 20% saying they practice yoga on their own.

    Chart of top ten individual routine exercises Americans participate in

    What's the most popular type of group fitness?

    Yoga is the most popular type of group fitness, with 25% of Americans hitting the mat at least once a week. Next up? Weight/strength training at 17%, and 15% opt for Zumba® or similar dance fitness.

    Chart of top types of routine group exercises Americans participate in

    Want to know what exercises different age groups prefer? Download the full report.

    What are the new fitness trends in America?

    While yoga is today’s most popular fitness format, when we asked Americans what types of fitness they were interested in trying next, there were some unique differences by age group.

    As the charts below show, the younger age groups are interested in trying more vigorous fitness modalities. Kickboxing could be poised to grow in 2019. Crossfit®, too, has immense potential for growth. Martial arts and rock climbing also made the list for the younger age groups, whereas older Americans seem to be more interested in gentler martial arts like Tai Chi.

    Graphs showing the top ten fitness trends by age

    Why do people work out?

    There are lots of reasons people choose fitness, and as an owner of a fitness business, you are probably familiar with all of them first-hand. Our research showed significant differences in those motivations between men and women, as the chart below shows. Understanding these differences may help you tailor your services and marketing campaigns to address these motivations across genders.

    Chart showing the top reasons for exercise by gender

    What are the obstacles preventing people from living healthier lives?

    Money and time are by far the biggest obstacles that prevent people from living healthier lives. Women and young people ages 18-25 cite additional obstacles that could be keeping them from a fitness studio or gym. For example, 25% of 18-25 year-olds find it difficult to hold themselves accountable, and 16% of them report feeling too intimidated to work out. Women also find it difficult to hold themselves accountable, and 19% also list “lack of support” as an obstacle. Understanding these obstacles, and how your services can be tailored to help customers overcome them, may offer an edge in attracting and retaining clients. Read our full report on Fitness in America for additional detail on these findings.

    Illustration showing time and money are the top obstacles to leading a healthy life

    What does this mean for your fitness business?

    We talked to fitness owners about these findings, and here are some of the tips they offered:

    • Help your clients overcome obstacles to fitness by making your gym more accessible and inviting—make sure your staff is trained to help new members during their first several visits. Follow up with new members to get their feedback and listen carefully to any concerns they have while their relationship with you is still new.
    • With money and time being cited as major obstacles, consider offering express versions of your services to better accommodate your time-crunched clients.
    • Take your community outside! With the high interest in outdoor activities like walking and hiking, consider offering a walking or hiking club to build a stronger community.
    • With the increased interest in high-intensity training, consider adding higher intensity classes to your service offering to attract a younger demographic.
    • To target an older demographic, consider offering “gentle” versions of some of your classic offerings (e.g., add a yoga component to a HIIT class, or add Tai Chi to your martial arts offerings).

    We want 2019 to be your best year ever.

    View the report

    About the author:

    Amaya Becvar Weddle

    Vice President, Research & Product Marketing

    Amaya Weddle earned a Ph.D. in Human-Computer Interaction & Cognitive Science from UC San Diego in 2007 and has spent the last 12 years working in research leadership roles in software and technology companies. A listed inventor on over 40 technology patents in the US and internationally, Amaya’s passion is in technology innovation inspired by deep research—the intersection of human cognition, behavior, culture, technology, and market trends. Amaya came to Mindbody in 2014 and is now Vice President of Research & Product Marketing. She leads a team of researchers and strategists who are building technology to transform the wellness industry, connecting people to wellness providers that help them live happier, healthier lives. 

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