Around this time last year, in keeping with recent industry tradition, we reached out to our network of health and fitness experts to predict some trends for 2020. It was December 2019, just as the first documented cases of a new respiratory disease were reported in Wuhan, China. We were innocent of the impending global health cataclysm that would cause many of us to re-evaluate what we had long taken for granted. For some, even running has become a luxury.
Among our environment, here is a new batch of forecasts for 2021. As the COVIDARUM-19 pandemic continues to dominate our national psyche, we asked some of our favorite employees and other experts in the fitness world to give us the best of themselves on what to expect next year.
More athletes will talk about their mental health
I think the biggest trend in fitness will be to focus more on mental illness and mental health. I think more world-class athletes, coaches, and industry experts will present and share their stories about mental health issues. This is definitely a good thing. We are not mind and body, but a system of mind and body. Just because you’re an excellent athlete doesn’t mean you can’t survive the emotional ups and downs. Athletes like Kevin Love and Demar Derozan use their platforms to great effect to help destigmatize anxiety and depression. It’s incredibly liberating to pull such a load out of your chest, and the by-product is that you can help others along the way.
- Brad Stulberg, Outside columnist, co-author of Peak Performance and The Passion Paradox, and co-founder of the Growth Equation
Gyms won’t make an immediate return
Based on the number and insane tithe of press releases I ‘ mgetting major fitness centers about how gyms will come roaring next year, my guess is that gyms won’t come roaring next year. Too many people have discovered how simple, cheap, and safe home workouts can be. Sogood dumbbells for sale in 2021. The same goes for electric bikes, which are probably even more modern as they allow spouses and friends of very different cycling skills and fitness levels to ride together. And I think we will rush to be and work together as soon as the vaccinations make the meeting safe again. I also hope and hope that in the fall we will see the return of large-scale events such as marathons. Because a virtual Boston near home may be convenient, but it’s not Boston.
- Gretchen Reynolds, Phys Ed New York Times columnist and author of the First 20 Minutes
It will be harder to claim Boston
This year will be a very fast one for runners, not just for the latest generation of high-tech shoes. In particular, assuming that mass participation races are allowed, I think we’ll see a significant increase in time in the middle of the pack that completely recalibrates benchmarks like the Boston Marathon qualifying thresholds. A host of factors, including the demand for pent-UP and continuing education, have already produced some impressive pandemic performances from the likes of Joshua Cheptegay and Letesenbet Gidey. But I think the social element will also come into play for the average packers in 2021. We are desperate for social interaction, and outdoor racing will provide a rare and valuable winter outing. The desire to catch up with friends will help the incorrigible hammers slow down at a conversational pace, more in line with the principles of” polarized learning” that the elites already follow. Get your BC this year, because it won’t be easier.
- Alex Hutchinson, Sweat Science columnist for Outside and author of Endure
We will (re) engage with our local communities
As we move out of the worst stages of the pandemic sometime in 2021, I hope we’ll see a strong commitment to our local communities: more support for small businesses like running stores and restaurants, more participation in outdoor activities like group workouts and small races, and more people in general.
- Mario Frioli, author, coach, and founder of The Morning Shakeout
People will continue to cook at home
- Marion Nestle, Professor of Nutrition, food research, and public health at New York University and author of the sunsavory Truth: How Food Companies Are Tilting the Science of What We Eat
We learn more about female physiology
Finally, we are talking about the menstrual cycle and the extensive role that sex steroid hormones play in the body outside of the reproductive function. People want to understand their body and know what the monthly fluctuation of hormones means in the context of sports and physical activity, an interest that will continue to grow in 2021. We will continue to speak openly and learn more about female physiology and will not treat it as something to be ashamed of or ignored. Researchers will work furiously to bridge the data gap on sex and gender in sports science research, and we will begin to distinguish which training and nutrition activities work (rather than) in women’s bodies and where sex differences matter. We’ll also see more products and services targeted at female athletes, from training programs to supplements and apps. But until the scientific picture becomes a little clearer, I would advise you to proceed with caution.
- Christina Yu, health and science journalist for Outside, The Washington Post, and other publications and is currently writing a book about women in sports
We need more useful data
Technology continues to grow, but there is also a ” new pragmatism.Basically, we still want good things, but we also want them to be easier. If we can’t understand the data, what’s the point? Companies need to respond to this. I also think there will be more exercise and movement for the sake of health. It’s not quite the same as rest, which caught steam a few years ago and continues to grow, but people are starting to realize (especially as millennials age) that workouts don’t have to be as intense or long-lasting. Not because we’re trying to get the most out of short workouts, but we just want to feel good. In this way, we can use movement for our health, not just for aesthetics. Fitness will expand in this area and will act as a side ramp for many and a new activity for some.
- Joe Holder, fitness columnist for GQ
We will value our local green spaces more than ever
Crisis times are a time to break down old assumptions and look at things from a new perspective. Because of what we’ve all been through in 2020, I think you’ll see the fitness and wellness industry take off as people refocus their physical and mental health. If there’s one thing we’ve all learned from going through this year, it’s the value of walking. I think the public recognizes the benefits of local parks, green roads, and walking cities and neighborhoods. We could finally understand that the space around us affects our health. During the pandemic, the fitness industry was more drawn into online and connected group fitness classes like Peloton, which is great if you get people moving. But I hope we don’t go too far in this direction, where we all train at home in front of a screen and lose the joys of being outside, and more importantly, the special connection and community that comes when we’re going to run or skate with friends.
- Steve Magness, track and country coach at the University of Houston, co-author of The Passion Paradox and Peak Performance, and co-founder of the Growth Equation