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Blog: Fitness Facilities and the Crystal Ball

Oh, right, it's the new year. Time to gaze into the crystal ball of fitness trends.

Authorities (such as the American College of Sports Medicine), people who think they're authorities (ahem … bloggers), and everyone in between are weighing in about what's hot, or what's going to be hot, in 2011. Of course that leaves facility owners wondering what to invest in. A barre for muscle ballet? Pilates equipment? Underwater treadmills? How do you know the sure thing isn't going to be gathering dust in a few years?

There's no magic formula, but if you're looking for ideas, a few key terms keep popping up for 2011: Kettlebells, boot camp, fitness programs for older adults, sports-specific training and Zumba. It's easy to analyze the trend here: Facility owners are cutting back on expenses, or at least remaining conservative. What's being predicted tends to fall into two categories: new programming that uses existing facilities, or new equipment that won't take up a lot of space.

But predictions of the fitness soothsayers aren't always accurate or lasting. ACSM expected to see the 24-hour fitness facility make its top 20 list of fitness trends - and it failed to register. Programs that were once white-hot (including Pilates and stability ball workouts) have dropped off the survey since last year.

In a time of economic uncertainty, maybe it's better to use the facilities you have, improve what you can, boost programming options and make new investments sparingly. Follow fitness like you follow the stock market (or even fashion): with an eye toward trends, rather than on splashy fads.

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