How Fitness Will Change in 2016

STACK interviewed Dr. Seedman for this article, which originally appeared on stack.com on 12/30/15.

The way you train in 2016 may look completely different from in the past. Based on new research and other developments, the strength and conditioning industry is rapidly evolving, which directly affects how you work out and improve your performance.

Trends typically begin at elite performance facilities and gradually trickle down through the ranks. To help you get some insight into where the industry is heading, we compiled seven fitness trends for the new year.


Trend 1: Rebirth of Barefoot/Minimalist Training Shoes

"Over the last 8 to 10 years, we've seen some fluctuations in barefoot and minimalist shoe trends, all of which highlight the fickle nature of the fitness industry. Initially when the trend began, everyone was sold on the idea, since the research was pretty clear that barefoot mechanics were not only ideal for optimizing performance, but also for reducing risk of injury and joint pain. After a few years, injuries began mounting quickly as people tried to jump into extreme barefoot training conditions without any adaptation or foot and ankle preparation.

"As a result, the minimalist trend began to fade and companies started producing maximalist shoes and shoes with greater cushioning as a way to counteract the issues people were experiencing from barefoot training conditions. However, educated strength coaches, trainers and therapists realize that the barefoot trend wasn't the issue. It was the lack of physical preparation.

"I believe in 2016 we're going to see a shift back to the minimalist and barefoot trend, only this time it will be applied in a more strategic fashion as coaches understand that their athletes need to be physically prepared and trained to reap the noteworthy benefits of barefoot-style training."

Dr. Joel Seedman


Trend 2: Mobility Optimization vs. Mobility Maximization

"I believe and have high hopes that in 2016, we're going to see a shift in how we approach the concept and training of mobility. For the last decade, strength coaches, therapists and trainers alike have fallen prey to the idea of increasing mobility in an almost endless and indefinite fashion among their athletes. Unfortunately, this has created an undesired trend with athletes producing excessive range of motion and sacrificing stability and structural mechanics for the sake of gaining greater mobility.

"Rather than focusing on increasing mobility, the goal should be to optimize mobility by finding the appropriate balance between increased range of motion and structural stability. Professionals in the field of sports science are beginning to understand this, and I believe we're going to see a very different approach to how we go about addressing mobility and improving movement mechanics. Let's hope it's not a trend that comes and goes, since it's one that actually deserves to stick around for the long haul."

—Dr. Joel Seedman