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20 Fitness Trends For 2012

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It's 2012, you've made your resolution and got that new gym membership. Now what? A survey of more than 2,600 fitness professionals conducted by the American College of Sports Medicine ranked the top 20 fitness trends for the coming year. But before you roll your eyes, consider that the latest picks aren't just about what's faddish or in fashion -- selections are often based on new research in the field of sports medicine, as well as slow-growing business trends. In other words: many of these areas of consumer fitness are here to stay.

"We really wanted to answer the question for both the consumer and the health fitness professional," explains Walter R. Thompson, the Regents' Professor in the Department of Kinesiology and Health, who has been the lead author of the survey since its inception six years ago. "What should they make an investment in?"

The survey was completed by 2,620 health fitness professionals, including trainers, fitness instructors, program directors and other specialists. They were all certified by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM). The survey asked them to rank 37 possible trends, including popular items from previous years and emerging trends as determined by the editors of ACSM's Health & Fitness Journal, where results were published.

So what's in for 2012? For one thing, catering to Baby Boomers with specific programming just for older adults. "They are retiring in better shape than their parents and they have discretionary income," says Thompson. "They're looking to stay healthy and walk on a treadmill, but they're not going to do that when a 22-year-old is right next to them, running 8 min miles."

Some things remained the same: Since 2008, accredited and educated fitness professionals has been the number one fitness trend. And while it may seem disingenuous to have educated fitness professionals rank their own work as the number one fitness trend, Thompson insists that the result is based on real movement in the field of personal fitness. Indeed, the U.S. Department of Labor Statistics reports that employment opportunities for fitness workers are expected to increase 29 percent between 2008 and 2018.

But despite some continuity, other mainstays of the past few years have fallen off the list entirely: Pilates is off the list for the second year in a row. Stability balls, also known as swiss balls that help improve balance were also off the list for the second year after a fairly successful run.

Below are the 20 trends that the fitness community is betting on. What do you think will stick around?

For more on fitness and exercise, click here.

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