Trends in Personal Training

Trends in Personal TrainingTrends in Personal Training

On Monday, January 1, the first day of 2018, there will be many people waking up resolving to do 2018 better than 2017. We make our resolutions regarding our weight, our jobs, careers, finances, relationships, etc. And we usually resolve to exercise!

Personal training can take a few different forms: a personal trainer that comes to us on a regular basis; an exercise group or class at the gym – small group training, larger groups, etc. Personal training has continued to grow in popularity throughout the past 10 years or so and this week I’d like to discuss some of its trends.

Small Group Training

Within personal training’s consistent rise in popularity is a surge in popularity for small group training. In this scenario a small group of clients, usually 5 or less, share an instructor. A big reason for this surge in interest for small group training is economics – sharing the cost for a trainer makes a personal approach to exercising more feasible.  Another reason for increased interest in small group training is that it offers a more personal total package: being a part of a group (which has been shown to increase and sustain motivation), still having a more personal exercise regime that targets areas that need improving, providing a cost-effective way of training1.

Smaller Equipment

Smaller, portable exercise equipment helps the trainer to train clients in various locations such as the client’s home, a local area such as a park, gyms and fitness centers. The trend is to use smaller and fewer pieces of equipment more creatively.

According to IDEA Health and Fitness Association2, equipment most commonly used includes:

  • Resistance tubes or bands
  • Stability balls
  • Barbells and dumbbells
  • Foam rollers and small balls
  • Balance equipment
  • Medicine balls
  • Body weight leverage equipment
  • Kettlebells

Nutrition and Health Coaching

In designing a fitness program the personal trainer should address lifestyle factors beyond exercising. Nutritional coaching helps the client make better food choices and teaches the reasons why these food choices are so important to a fitness program. Most certified personal trainers have at least a fundamental understanding of nutrition however health coaching is a fairly new trend. Health coaches are more involved in clients’ everyday lives, both in and out of session.

Some of the ways they stay involved include:

  • Helping clients track food decisions
  • Use of decisional balance worksheets
  • Delivering effective feedback to clients
  • Providing behavioral feedback and guidance
  • Addressing issues such as nutrition, weight loss and optimum health3

Mind-Body Programming

In mind-body programming, the person is assessed, evaluated and treated as a whole – physical, emotional, mental, spiritual. With today’s stressors and pressures a holistic approach like this can assist in addressing more issues than just the need for exercise. The connection between the mind and the body means if one side is under stress, or is not healthy, then the other side is affected as well. We’ve all heard the stories of physical injuries causing depression or of emotional stresses causing a heart attack.

Research shows that using a holistic approach to fitness can help prevent the negative effects of stress such as insomnia, headaches, high blood pressure, anxiety and chronic pain4.

Examples of mind-body programming are:

  • Yoga
  • Tai Chi
  • Pilates
  • Meditation
  • Cognitive Therapy


Personal training has grown in popularity over the past 10 years and as our society and life changes old trends in training are traded for new ones. Some of these newer trends are:

  • Small Group Training
  • Smaller and more portable equipment
  • Nutrition and Health Coaching
  • Mind-Body Programming

While trends come and go (and come again!) the importance of total body and mind fitness remains consistent. Being strong and healthy in body, mind, spirit is no trend – it’s a necessity!


1“A Study of Personal Training Trends Data,” Jan Schroeder, PhD; Ryan Halvorson,

2“2013 Idea Fitness Programs & Equipment Trends Report,” Jan Schroeder, PhD; Ayla Donlin, MS,

3“Why More Personal Trainers are Becoming Health Coaches,” Mollie Martin,

4“Mind-Body Programming,” Princeton University,


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Post by Andrea Rogers