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Popular Fitness Trends Across Generations

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Popular Fitness Trends Across Generations

From bike boom to #fitnesschallenges: here are the most popular fitness trends across the generations

The ‘80s had home workout videos. Millennials have yoga. Now, Gen Z voraciously flick through TikTok fitness trends.

Each generation has had its own iconic style of working out — and only some fitness fads stand the test of time. What was popular and how has this changed over time? What fitness trends have had their day and which ones never go out of style?

Timeline of popular fitness trends for different generations from Baby Boomers to Gen Z

Baby Boomer Fitness Trends (Dominant Years 1966-1984)

  1. Bikes — 23.4 million monthly searches

Bikes are still popular today, but they were so popular in the ‘70s that people call this period the ‘bike boom’. Interest was so high that shops across Europe and America ran out of stock!

  1. Home Workouts — 272,600 monthly searches

Home workouts were originally popularised in the 1960s thanks to the invention of home exercise equipment like treadmills and exercise bikes. Today, modern technology continues to help us exercise at home easily via the internet and apps, and lockdown restrictions have naturally added to the popularity of home workouts too.

  1. Callisthenics — 129,200 monthly searches

Calisthenics remains popular today as a form of street workout or as a home workout. Interest in callisthenics has grown 1,400% over the past 15 years, showing it’s more than just a passing trend.

  1. YMCA Fitness — 2,400 monthly searches

In the ‘70s, the YMCA was a popular choice for workouts and fitness courses. Nowadays, the YMCA has been replaced by a plethora of different gym options and is less well-known among the younger generations compared to Boomers and Gen X. Since 2004, interest in YMCA fitness has decreased 92%.

Gen X Fitness Trends (Dominant Years 1985-2000)

  1. Spin Class — 63,000 monthly searches

Of Gen X trends, only one continues to grow in appeal among the younger generations: spin class. Originating in the late ‘80s, spin classes quickly spread to over 80 countries, spanning across 35,000 facilities. Currently, thousands are interested in spin classes each month and spin’s popularity has grown 2,714% in the last 15 years.

  1. Celebrity Fitness Videos — 24,200 monthly searches

When you think of ‘80s fitness videos, Jane Fonda almost instantly comes to mind. In its heyday, Fonda’s high-impact workout video sold 17 million copies worldwide. However, technological advancements and the shift from VHS cassettes to online media meant fitness videos’ days were numbered. Over the past 15 years, interest in fitness videos has decreased 72%.

  1. Jazzercise — 11,200 monthly searches

In 1984, Jazzercise was the second-fastest-growing franchise after Domino’s Pizza. However, interest in Jazzercise has decreased 33% over the past 15 years.

  1. Tae Bo — 8,300 monthly searches

This unique combination of dance and martial arts became a popular fitness trend in the 1990s. During its peak, it grossed more than £58 million annually. Nowadays, demand for Tae Bo has decreased to around 8,000 people per month — a 92% decrease over 15 years.

Millennial Fitness Trends (Dominant Years 2001-2016)

A 2019 report found Millennials exercise more than any other age group, with over 76% exercising at least once a week compared to 70% of Gen X and 64% of Baby Boomers. What kinds of workouts are they doing?

  1. Instagram Fitness — 28.8 million UK users

Since it first gained popularity in 2012, Instagram usership has skyrocketed to 28.8 million with a largely Millennial base (30%).

Here are the trending fitness hashtags Millennials are searching for alongside #fitness on Instagram:

Trending Fitness Hashtags

Number of Posts

#fashion

1,000,000,000

#fit

469,000,000

#motivation

290,000,000

#lifestyle

290,000,000

#gym

218,000,000

#workout

191,000,000

#health

143,000,000

#training

122,000,000

#bodybuilding

119,000,000

#fitnessmotivation

112,000,000

#gymlife

66,900,000

#muscle

64,700,000

#crossfit

63,700,000

#personaltrainer

41,800,000


*Sourced via
Best-Hashtags.

  1. Gym Memberships — 10.2 million monthly searches

Millennials are avid gym-goers compared to other generations. 36% have a gym membership compared to around 20% of other generations and interest in gym memberships has increased 136% over the past 15 years.

  1. Vegetarianism, Veganism and Plant-Based Proteins — 8.7 million monthly searches

Heightened awareness of both personal health and environmental issues has led to a leap in interest in plant-based diets. The biggest emerging trend is veganism with 1,370% more Google searches since the early 2000s.

  1. Yoga — 4.8 million monthly searches

Yoga has grown in popularity 47% over the past 15 years as a Millennial fitness trend, peaking in popularity in April 2020 just after the COVID-19 pandemic struck.

  1. FitBits — 3.5 million monthly searches

FitBits first became popular in 2012 and have been keenly picked up by young exercise lovers. Online interest in FitBits has increased 3,529% over this period, giving it the biggest surge in interest of any fitness trend.

Gen Z Fitness Trends (Dominant Years 2017-present)

Gen Z fitness habits are emerging and already we’re seeing distinct trends among this demographic:

  1. TikTok — 3.7 million UK users

TikTok is one of the fastest-growing apps globally, with 205 million downloads worldwide. This is largely supported by Gen Z users, who flock to the app for a variety of content, including for popular fitness trends, challenges and influencers:

Trending Fitness Hashtag

Views (Millions)

#homeworkout

9,300

#yoga

9,100

#whatieatinaday

8,500

#trampoline

5,500

#rollerskating

5,500

#crossfit

2,900

#hiking

2,800

#strengthtraining

2,600

#powerlifting

2,600

#walking

1,700

#glutesworkout

1,600

#absworkout

1,100

#75hardchallenge

386

#weightedhulahoop

190

#liquidchlorophyll

55

#12330challenge

14

#proffee

4

  1. Skateboarding —1.6 million monthly searches

Interest in skateboarding in 2021 is nearly double that of 5 years ago thanks to renewed interest in the sport from Gen Z.

  1. Fitness Apps — 98,100 monthly searches

Online searches for ‘virtual fitness’ are 371% higher than they were five years ago and searches for ‘fitness apps’ have grown even more, by 3,067% over the past 10 years.

  1. Rollerblading — 68,800 monthly searches

Interest in rollerblading in August 2021 is almost double that of five years ago.

  1. Smart Tech — 17,300 monthly searches

Over the past 5 years, online interest in smart tech has grown 13%. With Gen Z embracing this trend, it’s estimated that 20.5 million of us will wear smart tech by 2024.

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Method

All search trend data is based on UK data from SEMRush and Google Trends.