Photo by Lorenzo Fattò Offidani/ Article courtesy of Shape Magazine
If you picked up a pickleball paddle, laced up on inline skates for the first time since your teens, or went on a hot girl walk in the last year, congratulations — you took part in some of 2022’s biggest fitness trends, and you likely have some fun memories to show for it. But as the year winds down, it’s time to start looking forward to what will move you in the future. Here’s what experts are predicting to be the biggest fitness trends of 2023, and what you need to know about the workouts, recovery methods, training styles, and more you’ll be seeing.
1. Virtual Reality Workouts
Ambling through an IRL workout in a drab basement gym is so last year. In 2023, virtual reality (VR) workouts will become mainstream as these high-tech headsets and devices grow more widespread (the augmented reality and VR product and services industry is expected to grow to $80.6 billion by 2029, and Apple is rumored to be releasing a VR headset in 2023). Meanwhile, software companies continue to add new apps that make working out feel like a game. From slashing music notes in Beat Saber to climbing mountains in The Climb app, VR workouts have gotten a major upgrade (both in terms of graphics and the physical challenge) as of late.
Start your VR workout journey with the Meta Quest 2, one of the more affordable VR headsets on the market. It pairs seamlessly with Supernatural, an app that offers gamified total-body workouts that take you to picturesque, hyper-realistic locations.
2. Mobility Training
In addition to all the workout varieties that already make up a well-balanced fitness routine (think: strength training, cardio, and low-impact workouts), one of the biggest 2023 fitness trends is further emphasis on prioritizing mobility training. Mobility training is working to improve your ability to safely move a muscle or muscle group through a range of motion within a joint. And it’s about so much more than just being flexible. Developing your mobility helps improve functional movement, prevent injuries, reduce pain, and more. And since being sedentary can lead to more injuries and muscle dysfunction, mobility training will be crucial for making sure your joints are fully functional and you’re able to move pain-free. After all, if you don’t regularly use your muscles in their full range of motion, you risk losing that ability to move smoothly and without pain, Clinton Lee, P.T. D.P.T., C.S.C.S., previously told Shape.
And while mobility is totally different from flexibility (mobility is your ability to move a muscle or muscle group through a range of motion, while flexibility is your connective tissues’ ability to temporarily lengthen) stretching is also primed to have a major moment in 2023. In fact, you can expect to see prioritizing post-workout recovery (through stretching, low-impact activity, and yes, those high-tech massage guns) as another form of self-care next year. Case in point: Pinterest has seen a boost in searches around phrases such as mobility stretches, knee mobility exercises, and hip mobility exercises.
3. Posture Workouts
As more people experience the side effects of weak postural muscles (think: tech neck, dowager’s hump), they’re seeking exercises to improve posture for a comfortable, pain-free daily life. The antidote to WFH life, posture workouts train and strengthen the muscles that support your spine (such as the erector spinae, transverse abdominis, and pelvic floor) and lumbopelvic hip complex (your lumbar spine, pelvis, and hips), which are key in keeping you upright.
4. Primal Movement
Another one of Pinterest’s most-predicted 2023 fitness trends, primal movement refers to the movements humans have been doing naturally for hundreds — even thousands — of years, such as crawling, lunging, reaching, pushing, and more. Forget the complicated exercises that don’t have any basis in real-life movements (after all, have you ever seen someone do a Turkish get-up outside of a workout?). Instead, think of primal movement as a subcategory of functional training — aka training your body to perform the moves necessary for daily life. Get in on the trend, which is really more of a back-to-basics approach rather than a timely fad, by adding squats, deadlifts, bear crawls, and farmer carries to your workouts.
5. Standing Abs Workouts
Keep your yoga mat rolled up — the latest trend in abs exercises has you on your feet. Standing abs workouts are becoming more popular (just check out the #standingabs hashtag on TikTok, which has more than 22.7 million views), and it’s no surprise why. After all, working your core while upright brings different benefits than your traditional sit-ups and crunches. This includes improving posture more effectively than supine (lying face up) movements, engaging more muscle groups (think: glutes, lower back muscles, and even your upper body muscles), and preventing injuries related to pore balance, as Shape previously reported. You can add kettlebells or dumbbells to challenge your core even further. Plus, standing core workouts can be more accessible for people with bigger chests (and way more comfortable, too). Try this standing abs workout to get a head start on this 2023 fitness trend.
6. Exercise as a Mental Health Tool
The last few years have been difficult — to put it mildly — and it’s become key to find ways to prioritize mental health and self-care. While facials and bubble baths definitely count as rest and recovery, more and more people are turning to movement as a way to protect and enhance their mental health. After all, exercise has been proven to reduce stress, help with depression and anxiety, improve sleep, and even improve brain function. But even aside from the proven physical benefits of working out, next year you’ll continue to see people using exercise as a way to connect with others, enjoy much-needed alone time, work toward personal goals, and build confidence, all of which are crucial in maintaining mental health.
On a similar note, finding a form of exercise that you actually look forward to doing just adds joy to your life — plain and simple. Instead of forcing yourself to power through a grueling HIIT session, it’s time to reject any pressure that makes you feel like you have to exercise a certain way for it to “count.” Instead, a big fitness trend for 2023 is all about moving in a way that will make both your body and brain feel good. So whether you live for a cardio dance class or the thrill of hitting a punching bag non-stop, finding a way to exercise that you love goes a long way in feeling your best.