Health, Fitness & Wellness Trends in 2024

Leading specialist health & fitness agency, Action Group, highlights wellness trends to watch in 2024

1. GAMIFIED FITNESS EVOLVES INTO EXTENDED REALITY

Mixed reality may sound like a comic book skit, but it’s real – and fitness has entered this next-generation arena.

First there was augmented reality, then virtual reality and now – extended reality is making waves, with the Quest3 headset from meta launching soon, combining the real world with the virtual world. And, it’s not just gamers that are reaping the benefits of this futuristic tech. Fitness brands like LES MILLS, which has the world’s number one fitness app on the Meta store in the form of BODYCOMBAT, see this extended reality as a huge opportunity to get harder-to-reach audiences active.

Rachael Newsham, LES MILLS programme director and instructor explains, “Mixed reality is the new and immersive way to bring fitness motivation to the masses. From BODYCOMBAT to DANCE, fusing the real world with virtual training spaces where they are transported through the music, design innovation and incredible tech, helps break down barriers to exercise to help people enjoy an active lifestyle – in every universe!”

 

2. AI DEMOCRITISES WELLNESS

Wellness services and health diagnostics that were once only accessible to the elite, are now available at our fingertips for an affordable price thanks to developments in artificial intelligence.

Everything from sleep analysis and mental health diagnosis to personal training has become highly accessible thanks to AI-based apps that range from free to a few pounds each month.

Corporate Wellbeing brand HAWQ uses its unique HAWQ Score analysis to create personalised programming for employees and an overarching strategy for the organisation. HAWQ is considering implementing AI-based health and wellness apps to support them in achieving better holistic health. Robbie Johnston, Co-founder of HAWQ says“We’ve seen AI algorithms, LLMs and sensors being increasingly used across the health and fitness industry to create more personalised help and expand user insight by creating everything from custom workout programmes, to tailored counselling support services. It’s not a silver bullet, as each individual employee’s needs differ, but having technologically advanced wellness support is a benefit countless businesses across the globe are keen to utilise for their workforce.”  

 

3. ELITE-LEVEL FITNESS TRAINING FOR EVERYDAY ATHLETES

Physiology and all-round fitness know-how has grown exponentially over the last decade. You now don’t have to be a professional athlete to access the kind of expertise that was once reserved for elite and professional athletes. In 2024 more of us will be training like an athlete.

Brands like Orangetheory Fitness, which has 1500+ studios globally, cite ‘delivering professional level training to members’ as their primary objective.  As Orangetheory workouts are steeped in science and tracked using the latest technology, even a beginner feels like a real athlete from their first session.

“Our heart rate-based interval training workouts give each individual the power to feel and train like an athlete, no matter their age, stage or goal,” explains Sean Johnson, Regional Fitness Manager at Orangetheory Fitness.Thanks to accessible technology and data at our fingertips, our workouts indicate when people should be going all-out in class and when they should pull-back, optimising the training session and helping them achieve personal bests in class, just like an athlete. People’s HR data, which determines their ‘Zones’, are displayed on a screen in view – this guides them throughout the workout and lets them know what level of effort to put in and when. Just like an athlete, we also want to minimise injuries and come back stronger and fitter the next day; this method encourages smart and goal-centric training”.

Sport science-based testing is also accessible to the everyday exerciser with brands like HAWQ setting the new standard in personalised and measurable health and fitness metrics.

“We strongly believe this level of detail is the future of wellness for everyone, not just the elite,” says Livvy Probert, Co-Founder and Head of Science at HAWQ.Using the latest tech including VO2 Max testing, blood glucose measures, cognition assessments, etc. we then conduct health and wellbeing assessments in five key pillars of body, nutrition, sleep, movement and mind. This gives individuals their overall holistic health ‘score’ which informs our tailored health programmes, that we help users commit to over a sustainable time to better their overall health scores and instil new and better habits not just for a season, but for life.”

 

4. PALM COOLING – BETTER THAN STEROIDS?

The benefits of ice baths and Cryotherapy are widely understood, but did you know that cooling your palms during exercise can actually have an even more powerful effect? Palm cooling reduces fatigue, enabling athletes to increase the total number of reps completed each session and achieve a significantly greater overall workload. Stanford University research indicates that it could even be “better than steroids” for performance. A peer-reviewed study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning recorded a 40% increase in bench press work volume in 3 weeks and a 144% increase in pull-up volume over six weeks when experienced subjects used Palm Cooling strategies.

CET, has supplied cold therapy solutions to elite sports teams such as AC Milan, Bayern Munich, Manchester United, Arsenal FC, Brooklyn Nets and Toronto Blue Jays and has created a palm-cooling device, the CoreTx GO which is the next frontier in elite and beginner athletic performance.

Director of CET, Colin Edgar explains, “The device works by cooling circulating blood through glabrous skin in the palms, returning it back to the body to subsequently cool it. Across a range of different exercises, palm cooling for just 2 minutes between sets has drastically enhanced repetitions performed, increased time to fatigue and overall workload from highly experienced to beginner gym goers.”

 

5. MIND MATTERS

Mental wellness has become so important to overall health that in 2024 we will see it surpass fitness as the number one reason people choose to be active. This shift in fundamental goals is also changing the traditional gym landscape with some forward-thinking operators and boutiques designing their facilities around the mind, rather than the body.

Case in point, the newest opening from affordable London yoga chain, MoreYoga. Following the monumental demand for mental health resources from customers during and after the pandemic, the brand unveiled its newly revamped MoreMind studio in Old Street. Committed to bringing a whole new catalogue of mental health and mindfulness to Londoners with regular mindfulness, meditation, breathwork and mental health focused sessions.

“This isn’t a fad, it’s not a one-time thing. The non-stop nature of our lives now is creating a demand for calm spaces where people can just slow down and simply be.” Shamir Sidhu, founder of MoreYoga implores, “We plan on rolling out MoreMind studios across London and beyond to champion the importance of good mental health in the battle for the better emotional, physical and mental health of our nation.”

This shift is especially important to the newest and biggest generation to enter the wellness market, Gen Z. A study conducted by global group exercise brand LES MILLS found that 68% of Gen Z reported they’re more likely to work out in places with good energy and nearly half (48%) seeing the grit and grind of exercise a turn-off. Given their appetite for connection and community, it’s no surprise Gen Z are particularly drawn to the supportive environment of the studio. The LES MILLS research found that of those who are working out regularly, 64% strongly agree that they like to choose different workouts, as well as discover new ones to keep them happy and 72% of regular exercisers and maintain exercise as a non-negotiable part of their day.

 

As Clive Ormerod, CEO of Les Mills attests, “Gen Z are increasingly seeking out more holistic workouts, which incorporate physical and mental benefits in one session, which is why we’re also seeing an increase in demand for a mixture of new hybrid workouts. It’s not a surprise to see strength-based workouts favoured amongst this group too, especially as more people look to fitness as a route to empowerment, self-accomplishment and confidence; all of which have a very positive effect on mental health”.

 

6. LONGEVITY

The real super-power of exercise is that, if you choose the right modality, you can age better, free from the aches and pains associated with getting older, and keep debilitating health conditions at bay.

The concept of prehab – exercising to protect the body from injury – is not new, but in 2024 we will see exercise mentality evolve further to support the idea that the right forms of exercise are the key to longevity. The mantra of ‘go hard of go home’ is out, and modalities that champion consistent, targeted and low-impact holistic exercise, such as reformer Pilates, are in.

Leading boutique studio brand Ten Health & Fitness’, which has 11 studios across the Capital, was one of the earliest adopters of this ‘Circle of Care’ approach to holistic health in the early 2000s and still thrives today. “We are seeing this trend investing in the quality of their lives not just today but for their future,” says Joanne Mathews, Founder of Ten Health & Fitness. “Our focus on quality of movement, technique and alignment promotes greater longevity not just on the reformer but in every area of life. Ten’s approach has always championed an immersive fitness experience, leaving customers feeling energised rather than exhausted and therefore bettering their overall quality of living now and for the future.”.

 

7. ECO EXERCISE

Forest bathing, sea lane swimming pools and pop-up saunas by the sea are just a few of the innovations we’ve seen throughout 2023.  As published in the Journal for Extreme Physiology & Medicine indicates, natural environments may provide some of the best all-round health benefits by increasing physical activity levels with lower levels of perceived exertion, altering physiological functioning including stress reduction, restoring mental fatigue, and improving mood and self-esteem and perceived health.

With these results, it’s no surprise that brands such as running race organisers Nice Work are seeing an increase in demand for events across the country. Managing over 250 races nationwide, Nice Work has taken the decision to focus on its scenic and forest routes, reducing city-based events.

“Our scenic approach to running allows individuals to disconnect and embrace mother nature with open arms,” says Rachael Wood, Managing Director of Nice Work. “Exploring how mental wellness can be amplified when immersed in nature, runners taking part in these series receive a healthy dose of ecotherapy to escape from the stress of modern-day life, surrounded by like-minded running enthusiasts who share a passion for nature’s beauty.”

 

8. MENOPAUSE GOES LUXE

From a subject that faced unlikely taboo only a few years ago to becoming one of the most talked about trends of the year – the lid has well and truly been lifted on the subject of menopause, as women across the globe embrace and invest in their midlife years.

From specialist fitness offerings to spa days and luxury retreats, women are championing education, awareness and honest dialogue about menopause and brands are answering the call. As a midlife exercise specialist and menopause retreat host, celebrity trainer and founder of the Eastwood Fit app, Monique Eastwood is well-versed in this burgeoning movement. “Through the countless menopause retreats I’ve hosted across the world, to training women at every stage of their hormonal journey through my app, what is clear is that no matter their age – women want to arm themselves with the right resources, proven research and wellness tools to support their constantly evolving hormonal lifespan. As a 56-year-old who has been through it all myself, it’s something I’m pleased is finally becoming mainstay in the health, fitness and wellness market.”

 

9. BACK TO YOUR ROOTS

2023 was another big year for fitness with more advancements in technology, hundreds of new fitness studios and gyms opening, and thousands of new apps launching. It’s no wonder then that with every action there is an opposite reaction: many are finding the ever-evolving techsphere daunting, and there is an attrition to a more natural form of fitness and training.

MAVERICKS Life Co. provides a refreshing antidote with The MAVERICKS Way: inviting individuals to embrace their roots and reconnect with the essence of being human in a natural world, to discover a more sustainable approach to training.

“People are looking for an opportunity to tune into their bodies and explore the outdoors, appreciating the natural simplicity of training instead of wearable tech and fitness machines. MAVERICKS teaches a natural way of tuning into your body to improve strength, flexibility, mobility and balance, and to learn how to hone your skills using movement patterns that form the baseline of human movement,” says Jessica Christensen, CEO & founder of MAVERICKS Life Co. “Holistic training helps us to foster a strong connection between humans and the natural world through an active lifestyle.”

 

About Lisa Baker, Editor, Wellbeing News 4102 Articles
Editor Lisa Baker is passionate about the benefits of a holistic approach to healing. Lisa is a qualified Vibrational Therapist and has qualifications in Auricular Therapy, Massage, Kinesiology, Crystal Healing, Seichem and is a Reiki Master.