In the early 90s, gimmicky workouts like 8-Minute Abs were all the rage. In 2003, P90X came along, promising a total-body transformation in only 90 days. Now CrossFit is taking the world by storm.
But like any fad, trendy workouts hit their peak of popularity, then slowly die out.
A recent article in Fast Company looked at the number of Google searches for eleven popular workout methods over the past 10 years. Although they represent an imperfect assessment, the results give us insights into where the fitness industry may be heading.
- Since 2007, search volume for fitness-related topics has exploded. We hope this is due to increased interest in health and fitness, and not just the result of more convenient Internet access.
- As expected, there's a noticeable spike in search volume every year around New Year's Day.
- Wii Fit, P90X and Zumba caused the initial spike. Wii Fit peaked near its release and quickly decreased in popularity. P90X hit its peak in 2011, while Zumba remains relatively popular, but is slowly declining.
- Spinning and Bikram Yoga remain consistent favorites over the last 10 years.
- CrossFit is now the most popular of the 11 workouts, recently establishing a new peak search volume.
The reasons for the rise and fall of several of these workout programs are unclear. We can hypothesize that fad workouts promise results that hook people's interest—we are looking at you, Shake Weight—then over the years, these same people, failing to see those results, start looking for the next big thing.
Will CrossFit suffer a similar fate? Many CrossFitters experience great results and love the community nature of the workouts. However, CrossFit's super-intense style of training may not be sustainable in the long run. Participants may get burned out or worse, suffer an injury. Time will tell.
The moral of the story: choose workout programs that don't over-promise. Focus on tried-and-true methods, such as strength training with compound exercises like Deadlifts, Squats, Bench Presses and Pull-Ups. There is no magic formula. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
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