Fitness and Health: Trends v. Fads

Fitness and Health: Trends v. Fads


There’s no shortage of information on the internet, on the news, in magazines and journals on fitness and health. Type just about any fitness or health term or phrase into Google and something is going to pop up. The problem isn’t the amount of information available, the problem is discerning if it’s valid. The area of fitness and health has its fair share of trends and fads. Trends are generally more supported by professionals than are fads. Fads are generally more short-lived. Generally, meaning usually. Not always. It’s our responsibility to read up, research, consult with professionals, and get the info we need to make informed, safe and effective choices for ourselves.

Let’s look at the differences between trends and fads and some examples of each.

Trends v. Fads

A trend is defined in the Cambridge Dictionary as “a general development or change in a situation or in the way that people are behaving.” [1]

A fad is “a fashion that is taken up with great enthusiasm for a brief period.” [2]

Fitness fads come and go while fitness trends change the way we approach exercise (or health, dieting, etc.). Trends indicate a general direction in which our thoughts and/or actions are developing or changing, whereas a fad is more intense and widely shared with great enthusiasm. Fads are more short-lived and are often without a good basis or support – in short, a “craze” or “gimmick.” [3] Fitness and health trends will show the direction a tide is moving, offering access to new information and different ways of participating in an activity. Fitness and health fads simple tell us what we want to hear. They’re usually pretty easy to spot – basically, are you going to get something for nothing? If you’re going to get skinny without exercise or without changing your diet, then you’re looking at a fad. And while fads can be interesting and even fun, they can also be harmful by giving incorrect or even dangerous advice or information, and by distracting you from the importance of the journey you need to take in becoming and staying fit and healthy. [4]

Fitness and Health Trends

One trend that’s been going strong for a few years now is core conditioning. You’ll find gyms offering core-specific classes such as Pilates, Ab Lab, and Core Blast. This trend came out of our understanding of the importance of stability, we breathe and move from our core.

Another trend is metabolic conditioning. This trend stems from the theory of speeding up the metabolism and burning fat with HIIT, high-intensity interval training. HIIT is repeating a number of strenuous moves, quickly, without breaks. [5]

Nutrition apps are another example of fitness and health trends. With every other part of life becoming more and more digitized, fitness and health are keeping up. Nutrition apps address the importance of keeping track of the multivitamins, supplements, protein shakes, grams of sodium, etc., you’re consuming in a set amount of time. [6]

Fitness and Health Fads

There are a lot of fads out there addressing fitness and health concerns. One of the biggest fads circulating right now is clean eating. This fad took a legitimate issue, processed foods, and ran with it to the extreme. We now have fad diets that restrict, or forbid, entire good groups such as dairy. This can be dangerous. If you’re cutting out foods that provide needed minerals and vitamins, if you’re cutting out entire food groups, chances are good you’re the victim of a fad diet. [7]

Another fad that has just enough truth at its basis to be convincing is taking collagen supplements for improved fitness performance. Collagen is a naturally occurring protein that targets the skin, nails, etc. The fad now is to take collagen in the form of powder or pills for fitness improvement. There’s no strong scientific backing supporting taking collagen supplements for physical performance. [8]

Last but not least, there’s the good stand-by fad of the ThighMaster. Some of us remember those Suzanne Somers commercials where she’s squeezing a contraption (often primary-colored) between her thighs, claiming it’ll produce firmer, “rock hard” thighs. (If you don’t know what I’m talking about, YouTube it!) And what I wasn’t aware of before researching for this blog is they’re also selling a FaceMaster for, yep, your face. [9]

Be Smart!

Any time invested in becoming and remaining fit and healthy is time invested wisely. Time and energy (and often money) invested in quick cures is not. Before trying something new, especially if it promises you something for nothing with instant results, do your research. Find out if it’s a trend or a fad. Find out what professionals are saying about it. Consult with your own physician, trainer, or fitness professional. While there are some fads that are actually beneficial and based on good science, the majority of them are not. You’ll waste your time, you’ll waste your energy, you’ll waste your money and, worse case scenario, you could actually cause harm to your body and health.

And nobody has time for that!


Image Credit: Twitter

Post by Andrea Rogers