Top fitness trends for 2016: Goodbye bootcamp, hello wearable tech

The Age Australia

Life & Style

Life & Style reporter

Top fitness trends for 2016

Pack up your war paint and turn the volume down on your shouty​ exercise instructor, because the days of bootcamp are thankfully behind us.

In this year’s Worldwide Survey of Fitness Trends, bootcamp – the high-intensity military-style training that has given fitness instructors a bad name – dropped out of the top 20 predictions for 2016.

Celebrity PT and fitness expert for the Australian Institute of Fitness (AIF) Cameron Byrnes is not surprised.

Fitness trends: Gadgets are the go.

girl with Watch

Fitness trends: Gadgets are the go. Photo: Guido Mieth

“It’s too aggressive and it’s too hard,” he says. “For fitness levels it’s fantastic, but it’s not fantastic for fat-burning. And it’s intimidating for the average person.”

Byrnes, who is responsible for Larry Emdur’s impressive transformation from dad bod to fit dad, says he and Emdur were recently in Toronto, Canada for a healthy lifestyle program.

“In Toronto, there was a 50 per cent decline in the bootcamps we did,” he says, adding that he expects a similar decline in Australia and particularly NSW given Clover Moore’s new crackdown on outdoor fitness groups’ use of equipment and crack of dawn start times.


Fitness trends 2016.

1448398231693Dylan Rivier, a Sydney-based PT and owner of Built by Dylan, says the basis of bootcamps still exists but has evolved and removed the chip from its shoulder.

“I think people have got the shits with being yelled at,” Rivier says, noting that there has been a name change from the now stigmatised “bootcamp” to outdoor group personal training. “It’s not about pushing yourself to the point of exhaustion or vomiting. And the whole ‘go hard or go home’ – there’s rarely that mentality now.”

While aggressive attitudes are out of fashion, wearable technology is in, topping this year’s list of fitness trends for the year ahead.

Introduced to the survey just a few years ago, wearable technology includes fitness trackers, smart watches, heart rate monitors, and GPS tracking devices as well as smart fabrics.

Fitbit was the biggest seller at Rebel last year while some business analysts have predicted that the Apple Watch will sell more than 485 million devices by the year 2018 and that the wearable technology market will approach $6 billion dollars by 2016.

“Wearable tech, body weight training and HIIT all lend themselves to a society that is getting more technologically advanced and time poor,” says Ben Lucas, noting the popularity of body weight training and high intensity interval training (HIIT), which were third and fourth on the trends list respectively.

“Smart phones and watches plus the use of Fitbits, jawbones and the like give the general public low cost access to incredible apps and data that may lead to greater motivation and accountability.”

Byrnes says they can also be a tool to educate.

“If they know they’re hitting 10,000 steps a day, it’s great,” he says, “it’s getting people to become fitness savvy, who aren’t fitness savvy.”

Rivier says that some of the latest wearable technology is taking exercise to the next level because “you can do so much more” but wonders whether they are “just a cool new accessory” and more likely to be a passing fad.

Or perhaps the fad that we’re moving away from is the hardcore focus on weight.

“Weight loss [as a trend] has dropped from six to nine because there’s such a big emphasis on being fit,” says Rosemary Marchese, a physiotherapist, author and expert for AIF.

“There’s been a shift from weight to fitness, which I think is a great thing. A healthy body has lean tissue. It’s not just light on the scales.

“Technical devices tend to focus on how far you can run … focus isn’t always on kilojoule burning but on your ability.”



“It’s very interesting that educated, certified and experienced fitness processional are on the decline (to number five from number three),” says Lucas.

“The next wave of trainers, programs and facilities coming through are less about substance, knowledge and experience and more about marketing and followers. Welcome to the social media age.”

Byrnes agrees.

“The Insta-famous people have diluted the market,” he says. “The most genetically gifted who have a great set of abs from birth are now the most popular PTs.”

Rivier thinks the desire for “educated, certified fitness professionals” may also have dropped as people become “armchair experts” and look to the internet for their information.

“I think these days the availability of knowledge at your fingertips, online, having a professional is not as relevant.



“I believe that streamed classes are going to take off,” Lucas says.

“Imagine being able to train live with the worlds best instructors from your lounge room. Peloton NYC are doing it for spin.

“You can take a streamed spin class from home of one of their classes. I have been there a couple times and it pumps. Other fitness leaders internationally are going to follow the lead here with yoga and strength as well.”

Marchese says the biggest trend she sees is “yummy mummys” and family fitness. A positive trend given that children and exercise for the treatment/prevention of obesity dropped out of the top 20 in the Worldwide list.

“I’m seeing a lot more gym gear at the school drop off,” she says, and families doing fitness together – riding bikes and being active.”

Rivier says the back to basics approach, with the resurgence in popularity of calisthenics and body weight training, will go from “strength to strength”.

Byrnes agrees.

“Fitness has become over-complicated – people don’t know where to begin,” he says.

“It’s 100 per cent all now about community-based support systems, like F45, online or Facebook groups … but the biggest trend is keeping food and fitness simple and just getting back to the basic stuff.”

Basic but enhanced by technology, which means 2016 might be the year we take fitness back to the future.

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