If you’re wearing a smartwatch while engaging in a short HIIT workout at home or a cycling in-studio session, you may already be ahead of the curve for what’s to come in the fitness world in 2022. More tech, shorter workouts, and hybrid gym experiences are just a few of the fitness trends you’ll want to try, if you haven’t already.
Between 2020 and 2021, gym-goers opted for virtual workout classes via fitness apps in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2022, as more and more people head back to the gym to enjoy the social aspect of working out, fitness coach Ariel Belgrave told Today she believes “the future of fitness will be a blend of in-person and virtual workouts.”
Whether you love trying out the latest trend or are looking to find your ideal workout, slip into your sneakers and tighten your laces, and let’s take a look at all the new and ongoing trends taking over the fitness world that’ll inspire you to move in 2022.
A workout is an experience that can be enjoyed from literally anywhere, thanks to technology. While the COVID-19 pandemic forced many gyms to close temporarily, causing gym-goers to work out from home, it appears the virtual workout trend isn’t going anywhere in 2022, even as gyms reopen. “Prior to the pandemic, working out via an app or Zoom was a foreign concept,” personal trainer Brady Dougherty told Today. That’s not the case anymore, as more and more people embrace the virtual option via fitness apps and virtual programs.
But, as the demand for gyms and virtual options grows, fitness coach Ariel Belgrave told Today she’s seen an increase in gyms offering hybrid options (in-person and virtual classes). “Many brick-and-mortar gyms are already finding that members have a preference for a hybrid experience of being able to attend classes in person and virtually,” she added.
Virtual and hybrid workouts work because they’re convenient, said fitness and retail analyst Randy Konik in an interview with CNBC. “People are going to realize they can work out at a gym three days a week, and then three or four days a week just do something at the house or in the basement,” he said, adding, “It’s all about convenience.”
In 2022, mini workouts will be ultra-trendy in the fitness world. Gone are the days where you need to dedicate a specific amount of time to work out. A mini workout is perfect for people who want to stay fit but don’t have the time for a 45-minute or hour-long workout. “This is because most people think of exercise as something that requires a lot of effort, time, and a change of clothing,” Arizona State University exercise physiology professor Glenn Gaesser, PhD, told Healthline, adding that mini workouts appeal to people who don’t have the time or motivation for “one big workout,” just one of several fitness trends we’re leaving behind in 2021.
Mini workouts, which combine cardio, strength, and mobility exercises, can be spread out throughout the day for five or 10 minutes each. To make it easier to add to your day, physical activity and lifestyle professor at the University of Sydney, Emmanuel Stamatakis, PhD, told Everyday Health that running errands could be a mini workout “even if it’s 30 seconds of sprinting up a flight of stairs, carrying their shopping bags instead of using a cart, or just walking at a faster pace,” he said.
A home gym may not be a new concept, but it has developed a new meaning as more and more people work out from home.
While an increasing number of people are returning to the gym since the COVID-19 pandemic swept the country and the world in 2020, demand for home gyms is strong, according to fitness and retail analyst Randy Konik. “What’s likely going to happen is demand for gyms will accelerate pretty dramatically,” he told CNBC in an interview. “But demand for [at-home] fitness equipment is likely to stay somewhat strong.”
From a popular stationary bike with a virtual coach (Peloton) to a wall-mounted interactive experience (offered by companies like Mirror and Total), per CNET, home gyms aren’t just popular but powered by tech in ways that will continue to evolve in the new year.
Brady Dougherty, a personal trainer, told Today she believes purchasing and using home gym equipment is a way people are practicing self-care. “I think purchasing fitness equipment is another way to invest in our health just like we would go to an annual physical or get a massage,” she said.
Beyond home gym equipment, fitness pros and newbies alike are using wearable fitness products more and more to help track their workouts, improve their health, and stay focused on their goals – it’s a fitness trend that’s not letting up in 2022.
Personal trainer Brady Dougherty told Today that tech products, from fitness trackers to smartwatches, are the future of fitness. “By utilizing data from wearables such as Whoop and Apple Watch, fitness brands will be able to offer a truly unique and personalized experience for their clients,” she added.
Wearable tech products not only track your fitness (including your daily steps), but they also help you reach your fitness goals and can accompany you in nearly every activity, from running to swimming (if it’s waterproof), per The New York Times. According to the mag, one of the best fitness trackers is the Garmin Vivoactive 4S, meant to improve the wearer’s exercise routine.
No equipment or gym membership is necessary for walking, which is a growing trend also thanks to its social element. “Not only is walking something you can do together with a friend, but due to its low intensity, you can hold a conversation throughout,” Dani Singer, Fit2Go Personal Training CEO, told Reebok. The COVID-19 pandemic, which has caused “mass isolation” since 2020, Singer added, has led to walking’s trending status.
Although walking is considered a low-intensity exercise, just 15 minutes a day can make a huge difference in your health, according to cardiologist Michael Weinrauch, MD. “The take home point here is that even 15 minutes a day of walking, without stopping, provides benefit with regards to cardiovascular morbidity and mortality,” he told Well + Good in an interview. Walking alone isn’t enough if you’re aiming for a well-rounded workout routine, so be sure to include cardio and strength training in addition to regular walks, Weinrauch added.
The exercise mindset is moving further away from thinness and more toward overall health and wellness as the goal of any workout plan. Fitness influencer Cassey Ho says people should enjoy their workout routine. “If you’re too focused on the vanity of fitness (getting a bigger butt, a six-pack, or thinner thighs), the experience becomes hollow,” Ho told The Zoe Report. Exercise becomes a more “meaningful journey” when you find joy in a particular exercise(s) and live a healthy lifestyle, including eating right, Ho added.
A holistic fitness routine includes cardio and mindful exercises, such as incorporating yoga and rest days — in other words, it’s all about balance. SoulCycle instructor Ross Ramone told TZR that his priority with every class he instructs is to help his students forget about the calories burned and focus on what feels good physically and mentally. “It’s my goal to provide a safe space for riders to feel through what they need to heal through, to let go of the things that weigh them down, and to step into their courage,” Ramone also said.
Don’t overlook the free weights area of your home or neighborhood gym. According to Elise Young, NCSF-certified trainer, strength training is vital for a well-rounded exercise routine. “Strength training keeps us feeling strong and empowered,” she told Women’s Health. On top of that, it lessens the risk of injury, strengthens bones, helps you lose weight, and improves overall heart health.
There are a lot of myths associated with weight lifting, however, which include: You have to start when you’re young, you need fancy equipment, and, if you do strength training, you’ll look like a bodybuilder, all of which are wrong, according to a handful of trainers interviewed for an NPR story.
Those of all ages and fitness history can start weightlifting. “What’s important is telling your trainer exactly what your fitness history is,” trainer Aryan Siahpoushan told the outlet, adding, “and it’s [okay] if the answer is ‘none at all.'” As far as equipment goes, you can buy cheaper weights at big-box chains and thrift shops, and weight training doesn’t cause huge muscles (unless you’re on a specific diet and training regimen). Additionally, regular weight training can make you stronger and build lean muscles, Siahpoushan added.
In 2021, women-only gyms experienced a resurgence, and it’s a trend that’s not slowing down in 2022.
Though it’s not a new concept, first emerging in the 1930s, according to Women’s Health, women’s fitness clubs have gained more of a following in 2021 on TikTok with the trending hashtag #WomensOnlyGym, including videos and posts of women working out or promoting women-only gyms.
The COVID-19 pandemic prompted Samaiyah Williams to open a gym, Her Flex Fitness, in Maryland, tailored to women. As Williams told Women’s Health, she had owned a co-ed gym before, and when the world shut down during the pandemic and classes turned virtual, she saw women’s attendance increase virtually. That’s when she realized there was a market for women-only fitness. So, she opened a women-only gym to empower female gym-goers.
One of the appeals of gyms made for women is that women “can exercise free of the male gaze,” history professor Natalia Petrzela, PhD, told Women’s Health.
Mix up your exercise routine in 2022 and head outdoors with your dog to work out. The COVID-19 pandemic closed gyms temporarily in 2020, and, as a result, more and more people took to the outdoors for their workouts, a trend that hasn’t slowed down since. “When you think about it all last year  with the pandemic specifically, so many of my friends would say oh my gosh I haven’t been outside in three days,” Jess Sims, a Peloton instructor, told Prevention. “With dogs you have no choice, you’re forced to take a break from work so it helps set boundaries. And it’s just so nice to just go outside.”
From enjoying a hike to a HIIT workout, dogs make the perfect companions and can make the time go by faster. If you’re doing a bodyweight exercise, Sims recommends incorporating squats for this reason: “Do a squat countdown 3, 2, 1, and then stand up fast. And then every time you squat down you can call for your dog to jump up and give your dog a kiss.” And, just like us, dogs need time to recover, so after a brisk walk or workout, hydrate and rest with your pup, Sims added.
Stretching is just as vital to your overall health as exercise, which is why it’s one of the trends taking over the fitness industry in 2022. “I recommend people stretch every day,” director of education at StretchLab, Austin Martinez, MS, CSCS, ATC, told Bustle. “It doesn’t need to be a super long session, but even 10 minutes can make a huge difference in how you feel,” Martinez added. Some of the benefits of stretching include improved posture and sleep, better athletic performance, less risk of injury, and a clearer mind.
According to Jennifer McCamish, the founder of Shape Method fitness studio, stretching has both mind and body benefits. “Stretching brings oxygen to the brain and body, which can help wake you up and feel refreshed,” she told Bustle, adding that you need to devote at least 10 minutes at any given time to feel the benefits of stretching. And there is no one way to stretch. Although yoga is a great way to stretch your muscles, you can just as easily do a couple of stretch exercises while watching TV or before and after a workout.
It’s all about quality over quantity with compound exercises. What is a compound movement? It’s part of a well-rounded strength training workout that does more in less time (when compared to isolated movements) by incorporating single moves (like lunges and squats), as well as bicep curls, according to a Self article.
Founder of TS Fitness, Noam Tamir, CSCS, told Self that compound exercises can help you burn more calories and gain more muscle mass quicker when compared to other types of exercises. “The more muscles working, the more energy output required,” he said, adding, “Putting more stress on the body [with compound exercises] has been shown to create higher hormonal responses” and promote muscle growth.
According to personal trainer Sivan Fagan, CPT, a compound workout needs at least four different movements. “I’m a huge believer in the minimum effective dose,” Fagan told Self in another article. When you focus on the quality of your movements and work every major muscle group, Fagan said you get results that not only save time but decrease the risk of injury.
As more people work out at home, fitness apps, from Future to Jefit, per Self, have become an integral part of exercise routines. However, the lack of diversity and inclusivity in some apps has led to newer fitness apps, like Joyn and Jabbie, entering the busy fitness app marketplace, according to HuffPost. In an interview with the outlet, activist Joy Cox, who researches race, body size, and health, said most workout apps and programs “set restrictions around how movement is defined and what counts as exercise.”
However, now, more and more apps are redefining what it means to work out. Kakana, for instance, offers classes tailored to people with limited mobility, and Joyn features trainers with different ethnicities and body sizes. When it comes to body positive apps, as fitness enthusiast Anne Otterness told Healthline, “If weight or size wasn’t the target, but different sizes were on my screen, it sends the powerful message that all types are included here and it’s not a big deal.”
HIIT, also known as high-intensity interval training, is an ongoing fitness trend that’s here to stay in 2022. According to an article for The New York Times, HIIT involves aerobic and resistance exercises done in bite-sized, but intense, increments. In a HIIT workout, each short sequence, which can last a few seconds or minutes, is repeated several times. Short breaks split up the workout.
To avoid injury and burnout, Ulrik Wisloff, a professor and cardiac exercise expert at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, suggests adding HIIT to a regular exercise routine that includes other forms of exercise, like walking, swimming, or jogging. “I would say that everyone should aim for at least one HIIT session per week, for the sake of health,” he told The New York Times.
HIIT is a pretty customizable workout most anyone can do. “So many people are intimidated, because they think HIIT has to be this all-out, hard-as-you-can-go, gut-busting workout,” but that’s not the case, Martin Gibala, PhD, a professor and HIIT researcher, told the outlet. Referencing the green-yellow-red spectrum, with red being the most intense, Gibala gave HIIT a “yellow.”