2020 fitness forecast

Optimization will be 24/7.

“Health and wellness transcends your one-hour cycling class, yoga routine, or personal training session. It really spans the entire twenty-four hours in a day. People are beginning to understand that the way to achieving a high-performance life is not just optimizing the physical domain, but also the social, emotional, and cognitive domains. This can include putting plants in your home for improved air quality, using non-blue-emitting light bulbs, and enhancing your relationships. In turn, you will achieve better healthspan and holistic wellness.” 

-Brandon Marcello, Ph.D., human performance strategist and Equinox Health Advisory Board member

You’ll get stronger by using external training cues.

“There will be a shift away from internal cues and toward external cues. Consider a basic barbell bench press. You could give yourself internal cues such as ‘engage your pecs’ and ‘extend your elbows.’ But with twenty years of evidence and more coming out every month, we know that external cues—like ‘squeeze the bar’ and ‘push the weight toward the ceiling’—promote more speed, strength, power, endurance, and coordination. Ultimately, they provide the body with the guidance it needs, like a GPS in a car, without telling it exactly how to perform the movement.” 

-Nick Winkelman, head of athletic performance and science for the Irish Rugby Football Union and Equinox Health Advisory Board member

You’ll practice micro-HIIT throughout the day. 

“People used to think HIIT was only for intense athletes. Now, it’s being acknowledged as key for overall health. Here’s why: The healthy stress your body undergoes during HIIT triggers autophagy, which rids your body of cellular debris and stimulates the production of stem cells, the primary regenerative cells in the body. The more stem cells you have, the better you are able to induce super autophagy—it’s a cycle. Ideally, you’d perform twenty minutes of HIIT training three times per week to get these benefits. On top of that, find every opportunity to add one, two, three minutes of HIIT to your day, for example, by picking up your pace as you walk up stairs. It all adds up.” 

-Pamela Peeke, MD, assistant professor of medicine at the University of Maryland, Pew Foundation Scholar in nutrition and metabolism, and Equinox Health Advisory Board member

Achievement-based travel will be the new frontier. 

“A few venture capitalists in the Bay Area are saying health is the new wealth and that people are paying for experiences over products. As such, people are valuing and looking for active adventures that are challenging and rewarding from a health and wellbeing perspective. In 2020, we'll see more fitness-related experiences (like those offered by Equinox Explore) that allow you to accomplish a feat like climbing a mountain and see the world.” 

-Justin Mager, MD, founder and physician at Health Incite and Equinox Health Advisory Board member

Meditation will become more of a group practice. 

“Meditation is the second-most popular mind and body practice in the US; the number of adults who have tried it more than tripled from 2007 to 2017. The accessibility of apps (and the number of downloads, which is in the tens of millions) suggests that most people meditate solo with digital guidance. This trend is likely to continue, but in 2020, I also anticipate an increase in class offerings. Meditating in a group can foster more connection, harmony, reassurance, empathy, and consistency than you’ll get from doing so alone. The growth of group meditation means we’ll probably see more meditation retreats as well.” 

-Ademola Adejuwon, consultant in sports and exercise medicine and Equinox Health Advisory Board member

Fitness routines will be fun (again).

"Having witnessed countless trends emerge over a twenty-five-year career in group fitness, I'm currently seeing a profound desire for joyful movement and dance cardio. It's a bit of a throwback to the origins of group fitness, but with a fresh attitude and expression of self that's missing in a lot of recent trends. There will always be a place for strictly tough workouts, but as Equinox members start to see classes as both social and practical, fun will become more of a priority.” 

-Keith Irace, vice president of group fitness

You’ll choose your own work hours.

“Some of us are genetically predisposed to perform better earlier in the day, while others do their best work in the evening. Unfortunately, the world’s standard business hours and twenty-four-seven connectivity fail to take this into account, compromising our health and productivity. As the importance of sleep continues to take center stage, companies will allow their employees to begin and end their workdays earlier or later based on personal preferences.” 

-Matt Delaney, national manager of innovation 

You’ll biohack your recovery.

“Science continues to support structured recovery, which allows you to maximize benefits from your training. In the club, these sessions should include breathing practices, mobility and joint work, and small motor unit recruitment—essentially, going to the gym to perform movements that are not fatiguing, but that bulletproof your body. Out of the club, structured recovery should include treatments at The Spa and EQX Body Lab, cryotherapy, float tank sessions, hot/cold contrast showers, binaural beats [a type of sound wave therapy that can ease anxiety and stress], and more. These biohacking treatments will continue to grow in prominence.” 

-Michol Dalcourt, founder and director of the Institute of Motion, inventor of the ViPR and ViPR Pro, and Equinox Health Advisory Board member

Habit-tracking will complement activity-tracking.

“People will start tracking habits to support and enhance their activity data. Wearables like Oura (for sleep) and Upright Go 2 (for posture) will provide you with ‘aha’ moments that help you optimize your fitness by highlighting where you could use improvement. This newly acquired data will encourage you to think about your health and wellbeing all day. Other metrics like step count, resting heart rate, and HRV will get better as a result. Nutrition will also be seen through the lens of habits that need to be improved through coaching.”

-Pamela Peeke, MD, assistant professor of medicine at the University of Maryland, Pew Foundation Scholar in nutrition and metabolism, and Equinox Health Advisory Board member

Psychedelics will be used as performance-enhancers. 

“THC and CBD are getting the most attention in the performance and recovery spaces right now, mainly because they’re being legalized across the nation. But other substances are gaining traction, too: Ketamine is being used to explore the mind-body connection in people with musculoskeletal conditions. Psilocybin and LSD are reportedly being used at microdosing levels to enhance performance. In 2020, more people may experiment with low doses to see how it affects their performance. This must be done very carefully and people must assume the responsibility of this type of experimentation.” 

-Justin Mager, MD, founder and physician at Health Incite and Equinox Health Advisory Board member

How fitness encourages sobriety

“There’s an additional healing element to exercise.”

3 questions for a cupping expert

Cupping leaves superficial marks—but the benefits run deep.