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Your friends at Garage Gym Reviews took a look back on 2023 in all its glory to come up with our best (and worst) fitness trends of the year. For 17 years, the American College of Sports Medicine1 (ASCM) has put out a list of predicted top trends based on a survey of health and fitness professionals, often informing trendsetters and publications on what’s to come. 

As we collectively rolled into 2023, the ACSM—like an athletic Nostradamus—predicted that wearable technology, free weight training, and bodyweight training would be the categories most likely to trend. While those trends might be spot on, keep reading to see what fitness trends our team of experts at GGR liked and disliked in 2023. 

Best Fitness Trends of 2023

Fitness trends come and go, but here are the ones we hope will stay past 2023: 

Debunking Diet Myths

Because there is so much misinformation around health, fitness, and nutrition, our team rallies behind trends that dismantle diet culture. In 2023, we saw books like The Wellness Trap by Christy Harrison, MPH, RD, and What’s Eating Us by Cole Kazdin join the likes of best-selling books such as Anti-Diet (also by Christy Harrison) and Unf*ck Your Eating by Faith Harper, Ph.D. and clinical nutritionist. 

Debunking diet culture is prevalent on social media, too. Kate Meier, CPT, USAW-L1, CF-L1, and GGR head of content, says, “I appreciate seeing more registered dietitians using social media to help people have healthier relationships with food.” 

Home Chef

Abby Sharp (the face of abbyskitchen on Instagram) is a prime example—she’s a registered dietitian using her massive YouTube platform with 640 thousand subscribers to challenge unhinged and shoddy diet advice. One of her YouTube videos, Nutrition Truths That Wellness Influencers Don’t Want You To Know, uploaded in November 2023, has over 100,000 views and nearly 400 comments. 

With 17 million followers between her Instagram and TikTok accounts, Registered Dietitian Kylie Sakaida (nutritionbykylie) uses her platform to share balanced and healthful recipes that aren’t restricted to chicken and broccoli. Tom Walsh (aka Stealth_Health_Life on Instagram), Zach Rocheleau (theflexibiledietinglifestyle), and Ilana Muhlstein (Ilanamuhlstein) also run popular recipe accounts that focus on macro-friendly recipes (usually defined as high-protein with moderate carbs and fats) that mimic “junk” foods people enjoy: pizza, burgers, loaded fries, and more. 

The internet is littered with fitness influencers offering complicated, tedious, and sometimes harmful methods for achieving weight loss. “What most people need is to focus on the absolute basics,” says Nicole Davis, GGR’s senior editor. “Eating more protein, fruits, and veggies with meals, sleeping more, walking more, and strength training a few times a week.”

Rising Popularity of Creatine

Gym rats may already understand how to use creatine and its benefits. But if you’re unfamiliar with creatine, it’s essentially a highly-researched supplement shown to help aid muscle growth, strength, and recovery. 

six star x3 creatine review cover

According to the Future Market Insights2 report on creatine, the compound annual growth rate for creatine sales was up 9.1% from 2022 to 2023. For the year 2024, the same report expects the creatine market will grow by 13%. 

Creatine is having its moment for a good reason: “There is plenty of research supporting its benefits when it comes to muscle-building and more fitness professionals are sharing that information,” says Davis. Some creatine benefits include: 

  • Supplementing with creatine may help reduce your body’s natural inflammatory response after a bout of exercise, according to a 2021 study published by Nutrients3
  • A 2022 randomized control trial4 published by Nutrients found that creatine helped improve treadmill sprinting performance through higher power outputs and running speed.  
  • Nutrients published a nine-year review5 covering the effects of creatine in young and healthy populations. Over nine years and many  randomized control trials, researchers found creatine supplementation “efficient for increasing muscle strength, muscle mass, and athletic performance.”

Walking Makes a Comeback

While walking was never “out,” it seems more than ever, walking is “in.” Two separate TikTok trends can back me up on this: Hot Girl Walks and Silent Walks

woman-walking-on-proform-9000

The Hot Girl Walk was started in 2020 by TikTok user Mia Lind (exactlyliketheothergirls) and is still marching on strong. Mia started sharing her experience on her daily, four-mile, self-claimed Hot Girl Walk, where she assigns her mental focus to gratitude and goal setting and encourages other TikTok users to do the same. 

If the Hot Girl Walk isn’t your thing, maybe the latest trend will do it for you: The Silent Walk6. This fitness trend encourages walking without music, podcasts, or phone calls. It’s just you and your thoughts, similar to the Hot Girl Walk but more open-ended on your mental agenda. A study published by the Journal of Environmental Psychology7 found that walking in nature (or even in an urban park) can help reduce the natural tendency to ruminate on negative thoughts. 

“Obviously, walking isn’t a new concept, but I feel like going for walks has been framed in a new light,” says Andrew Gutman, GGR head of content, who challenges himself to walk 10,000 to 12,000 steps daily. “Walking is a simple way to increase your activity to maintain a healthier weight and lifestyle.”

Al-Powered Workouts

In addition to OpenAI and ChaptGPT making headlines all year long, AI-powered workout programs8 have also made an impact on the fitness industry. Although using artificial intelligence to dictate programming is not new in 2023, the GGR team has seen this trend take off this year with an explosion of workout apps using AI to drive progressive overload

whoop 4.0 phone in hand

Some of our top picks for best workout apps, like Aaptiv, Juggernaut AI, and iFIT, use your workout performance and adapt your future workouts based on your current metrics (like running speed or weight and repetitions performed). While it’s not exactly the same as working with a coach and a personalized workout plan, an AI-generative program will nudge you to push harder or lift heavier, which is better than being stuck in a rut with your workout routine. 

Additionally, WHOOP, the wearable fitness tracker brand, announced WHOOP Coach, an AI algorithm that uses the data from your wearable tracker (including metrics on sleep, strain, recovery, and stress) to identify patterns and make recommendations. WHOOP Coach uses more personalized data and may be the most advanced AI-generated fitness program to date. 

Worst Fitness Trends of 2023

While some fitness trends stick (for good reason), we hope others fade away. Here are some of our least favorite fitness trends in 2023: 

Ice Baths Replacing Basic Recovery

Ice baths and cold plunges are all the rage—from June 2022 to May 2023, the keyword “cold plunge” increased from 11,000 monthly searches to just over 50,000—but is the juice worth the squeeze? For many people, investing in a specific cold plunge tub with a chiller to regulate the water isn’t worth it. 

cold plunge stepping in

“I think cold tubs are a fad, and we’ll see a whole ton of tubs on the used market in two to three years’ time,” says Coop Mitchell, GGR founder. It’s not to say that Mitchell doesn’t like a chilly plunge. He finds it quite refreshing both mentally and physically and was a big part in rating the best cold plunge tub on the market. But here’s the thing: We don’t think it’s the magic answer to improve your recovery. 

The GGR team agrees there are more effective and less expensive ways to improve your recovery, including prioritizing protein intake, drinking plenty of water, and getting adequate sleep. 

RELATED: How Much Protein Do I Need?

It’s also important to note the risks associated with cold plunges9, including cold shock. Before you drop a few thousand dollars on a cold plunge tub, start with baby steps like cold showers or filling your bathtub with cold tap water. The average person’s hot shower runs about 110 degrees Fahrenheit, and most homes can drop to about 55 degrees when turned to the coldest setting. While 55 degrees may not be near-freezing water, the temperature drop is enough to help you understand if you can tolerate ice baths. 

RELATED: Ice Bath vs Cold Shower 

Not only that, but cold plunge tubs can cost thousands of dollars, and you’re getting a basic tub and an ultra-basic chiller. My husband, Matt Strong, is a mechanical engineer and says most of the products he’s seen advertised on social media come with cheap chillers. For the price, he’d rather see a more sophisticated tub with cooling coils as part of the tub design (or both cooling and heating capabilities) but not a separate chiller. 

Biohacking: How Far is Too Far?

Biohacking10 is a generalized term that essentially means self-experimentation with your lifestyle, namely with things like nutrition, exercise, and sleep. One common means of biohacking is through technology to track your fitness and sleep habits. Biohacking can also involve testing tools (like fitness trackers, massage guns, infrared saunas, and customized supplements) to improve recovery or affect overall health. 

Using the Sportneer Elite D9 massage gun on quads

“Sometimes, the term biohacking is synonymous with reverse aging, where things can get a little weird,” says Erin Chancer, GGR senior editor who has noticed millionaires, like Bryan Johnson, making headlines with attempts at biohacking. 

While this is the extreme side to biohacking, our team thinks it can be safe as long as you don’t spend your entire life’s savings trying to defy your age. Some of the most effective and best biohacking products on the market don’t cost an arm and a leg. 

Andrew Gutman, GGR head of content, says, “I have no issue with people trying new things to get certain results—or because they like how it makes them feel—but when you start touting saunas, ice baths, or special workout machines as essential or a key to unlock a fitter body, especially when research on many of these products are still so new, it’s essentially the same as snake oil.”

Weight Loss Supplements Beating Out Healthy Habits   

At GGR, we believe in the power of solid habits—balanced nutrition, regular exercise, and good sleep, to name the important ones—over weight loss supplements and fad diets marketed to promote a quick and easy way to shed pounds. Because of this, one trend that we find concerning is the booming weight loss supplement industry. 

Weight loss supplements are dietary supplements that claim to accelerate metabolism, curb hunger, or prevent the absorption of fat or carbs. While those claims sound ideal, our experts warn us to tread lightly when supplements make such bold claims. 

Some of the best weight loss supplements might already be in your pantry, including multivitamins, protein powder, fiber, magnesium, and caffeine. These supplements can fill in the gaps where your diet has holes, which may lead to lasting results. Our experts agree that long-lasting weight loss results outweigh quick fixes like appetite suppressants and diuretics.

While the GGR team stands firmly on that viewpoint, one 2023 economic report11 shows that the weight loss supplement market grew 13.6% in 2023 and is valued at $39.18 billion. The same report expects the weight loss supplement industry to balloon up to $65 billion by 2027. 

Best and Worst Fitness Trends of 2023: Final Thoughts 

Which trends are you on board with? Which ones will you be glad to see go the way of the shake weight? 

Our team of fitness experts at Garage Gym Reviews believes the fundamentals are always on trend, like resistance training, eating quality protein, getting plenty of sleep, and drinking an adequate amount of water. 

We hope that you’ll keep up with your daily walks even if it’s not trending on TikTok and develop a healthier relationship with food if you haven’t already. We also encourage you to slow down and assess the pros and cons of any biohacking trend you want to hop on and consider all your options when it comes to weight loss drugs and products. 

Best and Worst Fitness Trends of 2023: FAQs

What are the top 3 ACSM fitness trends for 2023?

The American College of Sports Medicine1 compiles an annual survey of health and fitness professionals to determine and predict industry trends in the coming year. The report published on January 2, 2023 indicated three top possibilities for trends in fitness: Wearable technology, strength training with free weights, and bodyweight training. 

What workouts are trending?

In addition to minimalist, at-home workouts on the rise, walking is a moment on TikTok with Hot Girl Walks and Silent Walks trending with tons of users. 
RELATED: At-Home Bodyweight Workout

What is the next big thing in fitness?

With biohacking currently trending, it may continue into new categories and new possibilities. Hopefully we’ll see more DIY-friendly biohacking trends, not just billionaires investing in age-defying technology.

References

  1. Thompson, Walter R. Ph.D., FACSM. Worldwide Survey of Fitness Trends for 2023. ACSM’s Health & Fitness Journal 27(1):p 9-18, 1/2 2023. | DOI: 10.1249/FIT.0000000000000834
  2. Creatine supplement market. Future Market Insights. (2023, October). 
  3. Bogdanis GC, Nevill ME, Aphamis G, Stavrinou PS, Jenkins DG, Giannaki CD, Lakomy HKA, Williams C. Effects of Oral Creatine Supplementation on Power Output during Repeated Treadmill Sprinting. Nutrients. 2022 Mar 8;14(6):1140. doi: 10.3390/nu14061140. PMID: 35334797; PMCID: PMC8950892.
  4. Wax B, Kerksick CM, Jagim AR, Mayo JJ, Lyons BC, Kreider RB. Creatine for Exercise and Sports Performance, with Recovery Considerations for Healthy Populations. Nutrients. 2021;13(6):1915. Published 2021 Jun 2. doi:10.3390/nu13061915
  5. Wu SH, Chen KL, Hsu C, et al. Creatine Supplementation for Muscle Growth: A Scoping Review of Randomized Clinical Trials from 2012 to 2021. Nutrients. 2022;14(6):1255. Published 2022 Mar 16. doi:10.3390/nu14061255
  6. Caron, C. (2023, September 23). The beauty of a silent walk. The New York Times. 
  7. Lopes, S., Lima, M., Silva, K., Nature can get it out of your mind: The rumination reducing effects of contact with nature and the mediating role of awe and mood, Journal of Environmental Psychology, Volume 71, 2020, 101489, ISSN 0272-4944, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jenvp.2020.101489.
  8. Achauer, H. (2023, April 26). Your next fitness coach could be a robot. The New York Times. 
  9. Williamson, L. (2023, May 9). You’re not a polar bear: The plunge into cold water comes with risks. American Heart Association News. 
  10. Yetisen AK. Biohacking. Trends Biotechnol. 2018 Aug;36(8):744-747. doi: 10.1016/j.tibtech.2018.02.011. Epub 2018 Mar 14. PMID: 29550160.
  11. 2023 projections: International Metabolic Enhancers Industry Report. ReportLinker. (n.d.).

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