2020 threw us all for a loop, but that’s especially true for boutique gyms, fitness studios, and yoga spots.

With the unexpected, though, comes new opportunities. Over the last year, we’ve seen the industry fluctuate and change — meaning that we’re trending toward workouts many gyms and studios never considered offering before.

People are getting back to taking classes in person and finally putting an end to makeshift home workouts (anyone else try using soup cans as hand weights last year?). But they’ve learned to love having flexibility in their days and fitness routines, and they’ve discovered some new forms of exercise they’d never considered before whether that’s dance or HIIT workouts.  

We asked a bunch of fitness industry pros and yoga instructors to tell us what’s in and what’s out with fitness trends in 2021. Use them to give your business model a facelift for the year ahead. 

Top Fitness and Workout Trends of 2021, According to Industry Experts

1. Bring on the Hybrid Classes 

Jamie King, founder of Flex & Flow, thinks there will be a lot more studios and gyms offering classes that combine different types of workout styles for a full-body experience. Think Pilates and sprints. The goal will be to get an all-in-one workout that’s unexpected and exciting. “After working out from our homes for the past year, people are looking for workouts that require little to no equipment, and keeps them motivated and on their toes, no matter where they are,” she says.

2. More Individualized Classes and Bespoke Fitness Plans 

For most fitness professionals in 2020, it was incredibly difficult to figure out how to pay the bills while also operating at reduced class sizes and through one-on-one private training. But that time had one unexpectedly positive effect: it reminded us all that every body is different.

“Working out from home online allow[ed] students to take more ownership over how, where, and why they practice,” says 500-hour yoga teacher trainer, Clara Roberts-Oss. “Students who may not have been confident enough to voice a request, ask a question, or give feedback in class, might be more outspoken online; thus, allowing the teacher to respond accordingly with content that focuses on that student’s need.”

Customizing to individual needs — whether through online training sessions or smaller class offerings — keeps this more communicative approach going.

Pro tip: If you use Schedulicity for your online booking process, you can easily build one-on-one sessions and smaller workshops into your business model along with more standard classes. Just saying.

3. A More Empathetic Approach

“The biggest workout trend in 2021 will not be a new kind of workout class or even a new piece of equipment,” says Jay Nixon, author, expert, and founder of Thrive Forever Fit (he’s also one of Schedulicity‘s ambassadors). “It will be something that every personal trainer, yoga instructor and fitness professional already has in their business but most likely has underutilized: connection, communication, and encouragement.”

According to Nixon, clients are going to be happy to come back to workouts, but it won’t be without a feeling of overwhelm and uncertainty. 

“In some cases, clients haven’t worked out in six months to a year and that leads to a little anxiety and self-doubt,” he says. “It’s never been a better time to be a trainer that can listen, understand, adapt and adjust to our clients’ new needs. The trainers and instructors who understand this — and who can powerfully connect, communicate and encourage — will have the best year.”

4. Meditation is Absolutely a Workout 

Anyone who’s built a meditation practice will be the first to tell you that it’s hard, which is why Roberts-Oss also sees working out the mind as another rising fitness class trend in 2021. Many of us have started to rethink whether “breaking a sweat” is the only thing that counts and are finding new ways to build a wellness routine. 

“It’s never been a better time to be a trainer that can listen, understand, adapt and adjust to our clients’ new needs. The trainers and instructors who understand this — and who can powerfully connect, communicate and encourage — will have the best year.” – Jay Nixon

5. Online Fitness Classes Aren’t Going Anywhere

Numerous fitness instructors told us that even when we’re fully reopened, many people will still choose to work out at least part-time from home. It’s more convenient, sure, but also think about how many people splurged on fancy workout equipment last year. (We see you, Peleton.)

So, plan to build in at least a few online weekly offerings, maybe by adding a Zoom session or two to your class calendar.

6. More Outdoor Classes

OK, who knew yoga in the park could feel so freaking amazing? Even as we’re able to pack back into enclosed studios for a nice hot yoga session, many people have discovered the thrill of working out outdoors.

“When the pandemic hit, in the small window of time when gyms were permitted to open, I tried some outdoor workspaces,” says Joe Johnson of 9-to-5 Nutrition. “Interestingly, the feedback we got from members was that they loved the outdoor workspaces, so we’re thinking of having these as permanent fixtures (even when COVID is over) in the car park, so members can enjoy training outdoors — at least in the summer!”

7. Dance, Dance, 2021 Fitness Revolution 

Dance classes brought joy to people in lockdown everywhere. Why would anyone want to give that feeling up? Experts tell us they think we’ll see more demand for dance-style fitness classes moving forward. 

“Many people who are not fond of working out find it very boring to perform monotonous exercises. Contrary to this, dance classes that offer a complete cardio workout are entertaining and effective [leading to] a larger audience towards fitness,” says Nathan Lloyd, MSc and founder of Expert Fitness. “I expect this trend to rise soon.”

Ballet Fusion founder, Rhea Sheedy agrees. Since March, her business has seen website visitors triple week-over-week, including a spike in fitness clients who are in the 55 to 64 age bracket.

“Ballet fitness is a great choice for people looking to take a more holistic approach to their health,” says Sheedy. “Ballet is famous for its posture benefits — strengthening the body to improve core strength and balance, as well as helping hugely to improve flexibility and suppleness of joints and muscles. A great alternative workout for people working-from-home.”

8. Start Offering Online Coaching

This one is for you, personal trainers. Beyond fitness classes, more and more people are looking for wellness and nutrition advice tied into the work they’re doing at the gym. A lot of this can be done online, which means that you can book even more clients from all over. Sounds pretty great, right?