January 22, 2016

With 2015 in the rearview mirror, it's time to look ahead at what 2016 will bring to the world of fitness. Whether you're a workout warrior or a busy professional just looking to get in a good workout when you have the time, there's something for you in the pipeline this year.

Many of these trends can be divided into three core themes — the rise of tech accessories, a premium being placed on time-saving yet effective workouts and an increasing desire for unique fitness experiences. Some of these trends are a continuation of what we've seen in years past, but a few of them are relatively recent developments that you may want to keep your eyes on.

1. Wearable technology to grow even more
According to predictions from The American College of Sports Medicine, wearable technology — fitness trackers, heart rate monitors, smartwatches and even smart clothes — have exploded in popularity over the last few years, and 2016 will likely bring about more growth in this category. Products like Fitbit, Jawbone, Apple Watch and other similar offerings will continue to evolve and bring even more functionality to users that will help them improve their fitness routines and lifestyle.

One of the main criticisms of wearables in the recent past has been that it's difficult, if not impossible, to connect devices from different manufacturers. But even that problem may be close to a resolution. Under Armour launched the UA HealthBox, a suite of connected apps and devices that work together to track your results and give you a close look at your health data, Forbes reported. If it works, the HealthBox would be a big step to integrating different devices into one easy package.

But it's not all about watches and wristbands and trackers. This year, your garments themselves will be a fitness tech accessory. Shape wrote that many athleticwear companies will be embedding sensors right into their shirts and shoes, creating products that can track your heart rate, distance run and even correct your form if you're doing a workout improperly.

More than ever, you'll be able to bring technology into your life in a way that can dramatically impact your health and fitness in 2016. Do some research to see how certain devices and garments can help you get to the next level.

2. More streaming video-based fitness classes
Even people who have busy schedules want to have access to high-quality training in the classes of their choice. But it's not easy when you have to physically go to a facility at a specific time for the kind of workout you want to do. That's why the American Council of Exercise predicted that streaming or pre-recorded video for fitness classes will be increasingly popular this year because they'll allow busy people to take instructor-led classes on their own time.

3. High-Intensity Interval Training for the time-crunched
High-Intensity Interval Training, commonly referred to as HIIT, is another form of training that is growing in popularity because it's ideal for people who want a good workout in a short period of time. According to Self, HIIT allows you to lessen the time you spend working out in favor of doing far more vigorous exercise. Essentially, you're alternating between bursts of activity and rest for predetermined intervals until the end of the workout.

4. People want exercise to be an experience
The ACE also noted that boutique workout classes like SoulCycle and barre class, and even obstacle races like the Spartan Race, are in high demand by consumers who are looking for something beyond just going to a traditional gym. For the novelty-seeking fitness fanatic, there will likely be more options for unique experiences in 2016, as more events and classes crop up to fill the demand.

What really makes these experiences special is that they all attract like-minded people into a social group that gives participants a strong sense of community. You've likely seen how devoted fans of the Spartan Race and Zumba classes are — it's because they provide an exciting social experience that keeps you motivated.

5. Fitness for all types
One of the most notable trends of the year will be fitness classes and experience geared toward specific social groups. For example, the ACE wrote that faith-based fitness classes will surge in 2016, with sessions being held at churches, synagogues, mosques, temples and other religious gathering places. These sessions will likely have a strong spiritual tie-in that helps participants connect their faiths to their physical well-being.

In other instances, we're due to see the revenge of the nerds at gyms and specialized events catered to those with an interest in various "nerdy" subcultures. Fox Health reported on this budding trend, citing examples like Camp Nerd Fitness, which sold out its second annual gathering for fall 2016 and will feature events like medieval combat and video game-relatedworkouts. Nerdstrong, an L.A.-based gym, will serve the same crowd with similar routines.

Between technology improving to the point where it can have a major impact on our fitness outcomes, to classes and workouts tailored for busy people, to community- and experience-based classes, 2016 will have something for everyone, no matter where they are in their fitness journey.