Which trends are on our fitness radar in 2024? We reveal the workouts that will be keeping you active for the year ahead.
As we grapple with modern living, it’s clear to see that our pursuit for optimal health and wellbeing has never been more critical. Which helps to explain why wellbeing is at the forefront of the Women’s Fitness exercise trends report for 2024. Whether you’re choosing to take up a new ‘non-traditional’ sport to increase your social interaction or pick up heavier weights to boost your lifespan, you can be sure that holistic workouts that fit into your lifestyle, involve other people, improve your mental health and, importantly, work, will be huge for next year. Read on to find out more.
Considering that New York magazine coined the immortal phrase ‘Pilatespocalypse’ back in 2015 to announce the demise of the Pilates industry, we find it slightly ironic that Pilates features not once but three times in PureGym’s global report on the Top 20 Fitness Trends for 2024*. As one of the biggest trends of 2023, Reformer Pilates is still riding high at number 18 in the chart. But, the increased popularity for Mat Pilates – sitting pretty at number 15 with a 50 per cent rise in interest year on year – is no doubt evidence that more people are seeking to reap the strengthening and lengthening benefits of Pilates for the first time: just in a cheaper, more accessible way.
You only need to look at the new online and in-studio timetables for renowned Dynamic Pilates brand Heartcore Method and see the addition of three brand-new Mat Pilates classes – Strength, Cardio, and Flow – to recognise the demand for simpler ways to feel strong from the inside out.
And it doesn’t get much simpler than Wall Pilates, which takes the number one spot for the top fitness trend of 2024 (with a whopping +4,461 per cent rise in internet searches). ‘Wall Pilates is very similar to the standard Pilates workouts we may be familiar with, with the addition of a wall to provide both stability and resistance to the movements,’ says PureGym PT Macallum Livock. ‘Doing so can help to put greater a focus on certain muscle groups during each movement and provide a greater challenge for anyone who wants to go a level up from the basic Pilates moves,’ he continues. ‘But it’s also great for beginners, because the wall provides stability and enables them to build up confidence with the movements while being more supported than with bodyweight alone.’
STRENGTH AND MOBILITY
The popularity for functional fitness is set to reach new heights as we seek to optimise our strength and mobility to cope with everything life throws at us. ‘In 2024, we are going to see a rise in functional fitness in our home workouts – think CrossFit- and Hyrox-style workouts featuring the big lifts and movement patterns like squats, deadlifts, pushing and pulling – that improve functional strength in everyday life,’ says Nicole Champman, founder of the Power of Mum fitness programme which has already been updated to include favourite formats such as AMPRAP, aka As Many Rounds As Possible, to reflect the trend.
‘Lifting heavier at home while following online community workouts is a forecast trend I am excited for!’ she adds. ‘We are moving away from 2-5kg dumbbells being your usual home equipment and will start see more and more 7.5kg-10kg dumbbells being used by all genders. Strength training has been a mainstream focus for women for a few years now, but it is about to ramp up even more as we train to be functionally fit to meet the demands of daily life.’
According to statistics from the ABC (Association of British Climbing Walls), indoor climbing has grown in popularity by 15-20 per cent each year for the last decade, no doubt helped by the release of popular feature length documentaries such as Free Solo and Dawn Wall in 2018, and the sport’s first inclusion in the Olympics in 2021. Indeed, while there were only 10 climbing centres in London back in 2014, the capital will soon be home to 35 centres from January 2024. But we reckon the interest in indoor climbing and bouldering – a stripped back style of climbing where climbers scale low-height walls over crash pads – is set to reach stratospheric heights this year thanks to the forthcoming Paris 2024 Olympic Games.
‘We hope to have some strong contenders in Paris,’ says Ollie Rooke, Marketing Manager at London Climbing Centres. ‘Toby Roberts has already qualified and there are strong female climbers in with a good chance of qualifying too, including Molly Thompson Smith. This means climbing will continue to grow in popularity in the UK and overseas, with more eyes on the sport and more people heading to their local wall to experience the sport’s unique balance of physical and mental challenge,’ says Rooke, before adding, ‘it also helps that climbing walls centres are becoming community hubs with hot-desking tables, cafes, bars, and social spaces!’
Many predict that 2024 will be the year that women, especially in midlife, take their health and fitness into their own hands by seeing out more holistic exercise regimes and fitness platforms that not only future-proof their mind and bodies, but also make them feel good in the moment.
‘For so many years, women have been fed the “no pain, no gain” and “calories in, calories out” narratives that meant we focussed heavily on cardiovascular fitness and restrictive dieting,’ says Sarah Aspinall, founder of 40+ fitness platform Breaking Ballet. ‘But with the emergence of personalised nutrition in the UK, like the Zoe app, and the increased awareness around the impact of perimenopause and menopause, women are starting to take control of their health as the stigma around this life stage finally lifts and new research empowers women to understand more about themselves.
‘Exercise physiologists such as Stacy Sims and functional medicine practitioners like Dr Gabrielle Lyon,’ she continues, ‘are revolutionising exercise nutrition and performance for women by highlighting the sex differences in training, nutrition, and health; dealing head on with the gender gap in sports research; and inspiring women to unlock their potential for wellness. Maximising women’s health and longevity is a by-product of that effort.’
PADEL & PICKLEBALL
We’ve come a long way from the 1900 Paris Games when tennis became the first Olympic sport that women were allowed to compete in. Despite tennis historically being one of the most popular sports in the UK, it’s tennis’ sister sports, Padel and Pickleball, that are becoming some of the fastest growing sports among women in the UK thanks to their inclusivity.
Since its launch in January 2019, not for profit organisation Pickleball England has amassed almost 6,000 registered members (and estimates there are around 15,000 players now playing in the UK), while the number of Pickleball clubs has grown from three in 2010 to around 500 today – not bad for a sport that was first created in 1965 in Washington, USA, by three fathers looking to develop a new activity for their children!
Meanwhile, Padel – a fast-paced game played as doubles on an enclosed court about a third of the size of a tennis court – has been hailed as ‘tennis’ nemesis’, with consumer data revealing that sales of Padel rackets and balls mushroomed by 95 per cent and 161 per cent respectively in 2023. Indeed, the LTA (Lawn Tennis Association) estimates there are now almost 250 Padel courts in Britain, with more on the way in 2024 to facilitate the estimated 90,000 regular Padel players in the UK. Fancy giving this fast-paced hybrid of squash and tennis a go this year? Find your nearest court at UK Padel.
No time to work out? No worries! HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) is still a hit in 2024, alongside other forms of micro-dose exercise such as SIT (Sprint Interval Training). ‘Fifteen minutes may not seem like a lot of time, but fitness experts and scientific studies agree that it’s enough to make a difference,’ says Aspinall. ‘A 15-minute workout will help you get results faster, burn more calories, live longer, manage weight, stay young, boost your brain power, and lower your risk for certain diseases. Additionally,’ she adds, ‘a 2023 study published in The Journal of Physiology showed that six-minutes of high-intensity exercise could extend the lifespan of a healthy brain and delay the onset of neurodegenerative disorders, such as Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease.’
The best type of HIIT workouts, says Aspinall, are super short, sharp sprint-style intervals lasting about 30 seconds or less, building up the sets to a maximum of 15 minutes. ‘And if you’re new to fitness, or haven’t been active in a long time, a 15-minute workout may be best to start with to help you create a consistent exercise habit and stick with it,’ she concludes.
Fitness trends: GOING UP*
- Tarzan movement – a form of primal movement – is up +529 per cent year on year to take the #2 spot in PureGym’s trends chart. ↑
- Thanks to Jennifer Anniston waxing lyrical about Pvolve, this low-intensity workout is up +512 per cent and is sitting pretty at #3. ↑
- Functional fitness workout Hyrox has seen interest grow by +233 per cent to help it take forth place in the top trends chart. ↑
Fitness trends: GOING DOWN*
- Evening workouts are down in popularity by a whopping -47 per cent as we aim to complete our training earlier in the day. ↓
- Is the digital reign of fitness over? VR fitness games are down -33 per cent while virtual fitness classes are down -19 per cent. ↓
- No surprise here to learn that backwards running is also down -19 per cent in popularity – running forwards can be tricky enough! ↓
*based on internet search rankings on fitness trends with the highest growth in interest for 2024 (Methodology: PureGym compiled 176 different fitness trends by tracking any mention in news articles covering ‘fitness trends’ across 2019-2023. The trends were then analysed using Google Keyword Planner. The monthly worldwide Google search volumes in both July-September 2022 and July-September 2023 were taken. The percentage increase/decrease for each trend was calculated to provide the final ranking. Data correct as of October 2023.)
Words: Joanna Ebsworth. Images: London Climbing Centres, Heartcore, Pickleball England, and Shutterstock.