Workouts That Everyone Will Be Talking About In 2017

With any luck, you're still going strong on your New Year's resolution to get fit in 2017. Oh, you fell off that wagon? You aren't alone. That's okay, because the best thing about setting goals year-round is that you can always get back up, dust yourself off, and get right back to it. The same goes for working out, even if you haven't yet figured out your go-to workout or got bored of your routine and are looking to shake things up.

If there is one constant in the fitness industry, it's that things are always evolving. As a certified personal trainer, I often feel like I've tried or heard about every new fitness trend imaginable. Then the next day I hear about some new trend from a client or a fellow trainer. While some trends stick around for the long haul and become the new norm in fitness, other trends fade away quickly (Shake Weight, anyone?). To get a sense of the hottest workouts of 2017, I reached out to some of the top fitness professionals in the industry to get their take. These are the workouts that everyone will be talking about this year.


Full-body workouts are very in for 2017, and according to Row House coach Erin Landy, there's no better full-body workout than rowing. "Rowing is the best workout because it's full body, so you're getting a great cardio workout while toning your entire body. It's also low-impact, so it's easy on your joints," Landy said. She also told me that rowing is a workout anyone can do, whether you're prone to injury, have never stepped foot in a gym, or are looking for great cross training. "You should definitely expect to work up a sweat and feel a good burn in your leg muscles, core, and all the way through your arms and back," she said. "Expect satisfying soreness in muscles you never knew you had and a well earned high-five from your neighbor celebrating hundreds of calories scorched."

While it's entirely possible to get into rowing on your own, Landy recommends a studio like Row House where the whole workout is a team effort, like what you would get on the water. "Not only does rowing challenge every individual's mind and body, the sport offers the unique opportunity to push towards a goal as a collective unit," Landy said. "On the water and at Row House, we work as a team, letting rhythm, technique, and efficient power drive us as one to the finish line." So grab a workout buddy or your entire squad and get rowing.

Mind-body classes on the water

Brandon Kolar, a Tier X Coach at Equinox in Boston, said water-based classes on floating platforms in pools and lakes will be all the rage in 2017. "The zen-ness of it all is outrageous, and the body control that it takes to do these moves on a floating platform in the water takes you to a new level," he told me. Unlike the SURFSET classes that were popularized by their appearance on Shark Tank, but which don't actually happen on the water, the classes Kolar is referencing are all about floating. Examples include AquaPhysical's FloatFit HIIT class that incorporates isometrics, plyometrics, and stretching on a floating board. If yoga is more your thing, BOGA YOGA utilizes stand-up paddleboards for their yoga classes on the water. "Once you do this once, you're going to be hooked," Kolar said.

Fitness retreats

Way beyond yoga retreats, Stacy Schwartz, the co-founder of Ketanga Fitness Retreats, anticipates that fitness retreats like theirs will be one of the top health and wellness trends of 2017. "Fitness retreats give active enthusiasts the opportunity to travel with like-minded people," she said. "And being healthy while traveling is no longer just trying to fit in a workout or deprive yourself of local foods and drinks in a new part of the world; being healthy is now a primary reason for traveling!" Some examples of Ketanga's fitness retreats include boot camp in Costa Ricahorseback riding, yoga, and hiking in Ireland, and more. The retreats incorporate local active activities into the program (hiking, surfing, waterfall rappelling, etc.) as well as time to relax and decompress. "It's not only fitness, but fitness is the foundation," Schwartz explained to us.

Functional training

Another big trend that continues in 2017 is doing workouts that actually help you function in your everyday life. This type of training, known as functional training, works with everyone from fitness beginner to athlete. "For the regular person, it's important to do functional training to help bring that strength into everyday life, and functional training uses exercises that use the most muscle at one time," said personal trainer Jamie Logie of Regained Wellness. "A bicep curl can strengthen your bicep, but we don't do many movements like that in everyday life (though it's still helpful), compared to doing a lunge which strengthens pretty much every muscle in the lower body and will make it easier for you to climb stairs." Functional training applies to athletes as well. "It makes more sense to have [athletes] perform workouts with exercises similar to what they do in their sport such as basketball players doing jump squats," Logie told me, explaining why you probably won't see the top NBA pros doing something like leg presses.

When thinking about functional training, I have clients think about the things you do every day and how they can be mimicked in the gym, like squatting down to reach things (air squats), lifting items overhead (shoulder press), climbing stairs (lunges), bending over (deadlifts), and pushing doors open (push-ups). If you can't think of a way it might help you in your everyday life, functional fitness enthusiasts would argue there's probably something better you could be doing.

HIIT classes

High intensity interval training (HIIT) combines exercises that require near-maximum effort with lower intensity exercises that bring you back to periods of recovery in between. The idea behind HIIT is that you'll be more efficient at burning fat and building muscle than with other types of workouts. Sure, HIIT is nothing new, but many experts see this as a continuing trend in 2017. Amanda Dale, an ACE-certified personal trainer, AFAA-certified exercise instructor, wellness coach, and sports nutritionist with master's degrees in medical sociology and education, said she was happy to see the continued upswing in HIIT-style circuit training at places like OrangeTheory and F45. "I think (especially veteran) exercisers are looking for a challenging yet motivating group exercise environment that isn't a Crossfit gym but offers the same type of competitive intensity and attentive coaching," she told me. These types of classes combine uptempo music with a fat-burning interval program, helpful video instruction, and in-person coaching and correction. According to Dale, this "creates a fun, effective, and addictive workout environment."

Live-streaming workouts

With all of today's latest technology, it's no wonder that one of the predicted workout trends this year is to start live-streaming your at-home workouts. "From at-home cycling to yoga to HIIT, streaming classes give everyone access to the most elite trainers and studios from the comfort of their own home," NASM certified trainer and founder of fitlosophy, inc. Angela Mader told me. She said live-streaming is different than following moves found on Pinterest. "Live-streaming brings more energy and dedication to an at-home workout."

It's no wonder then that so many different companies are getting in on the action. From gyms like Crunch Fitness starting Crunch Live to dedicated live-streaming fitness companies like Live Exercise and everything in between, there are plenty of ways to do your workouts at home while still feeling like you're part of a group.

Outdoor fitness

You may have noticed that there's a trend in general towards making exercise more pleasurable, to break free of the gym, and include more natural activities in life. Certified group exercise instructor, personal trainer, author, and physical activity specialist in public health Nancy Bruning anticipates that outdoor workouts will be a rising trend in 2017. "Complete health includes getting outdoors in natural light and air, engaging all the senses, feeling the wind on our skin, seeing the antics and beauty of the animals — even if only a squirrel! — inhaling the freshness of living plants," Bruning said. She went on to explain that a lot of families, couples, and friends are looking for things they can experience together, and being active in a local park is one of them.

But what can you do for an outdoor workout? "You can adapt almost any bodyweight exercise to the outdoors, by looking around and creatively using benches, walls, railings, steps — even trees and boulders to do push-ups, sit-ups, jump-ups, stretches, and so on," Bruning told me, but you aren't just limited to this. "I love other activities like hiking, kayaking, bike riding, skating, scooting, and of course swimming," she said. So throw on some good shoes and comfortable clothes, grab a friend, and head outside in 2017!

Heavy lifting

While you may be used to doing your strength training in sets of 8-15 reps, fitness expert and co-owner of DIAKADI Billy Polson sees a shift on the horizon in 2017. "I am finally seeing gym goers truly lifting weights for max strength and maxing out their reps at 5-6 reps," Polson said. "This increase in intensity gives your muscles the much needed stimuli to become stronger, increasing your function for sport and life, as well as giving your body a big boost in metabolism for maintaining lean muscle tissue and reducing fat." This sentiment was echoed to me by personal trainer and powerlifter Robert Herbst, who also anticipates strongman type exercises like Farmer Walks gaining popularity in 2017. "They will be popular because they boost the metabolism, which leads to fat burning, and they do not take a lot of time," Herbst said. "Also, the exercises are functional and not in the groove of a machine, so they will give real-life strength and they are challenging and fun to do."

Heart rate variability training

Most of the clients I've trained over the years are familiar with tracking their heart rate, but generally they do it just to get a sense of how many calories they're burning. In fact, our heart rate can tell us so much more, including when to push harder during a workout and when to focus on recovery. Former Olympic rower Patrick Sweeney said heart rate variability (HRV) will be the basis for big improvements in athletes everywhere in 2017. "When I was training for the Olympics, the most important thing for most of our athletes was not the work out, because we had all learned to push ourselves really hard, but the rest and recovery," Sweeney told me. "HRV training finally gives the insight into when we should push more, and when we should rest, by looking at how recovered your body is."

This isn't unique to rowers, either. Sweeney explained that trying to go for the next heavy lift before you're adequately recovered can mean the difference between a new personal record and getting injured. This means that in 2017 people will be less focused on going hard all the time and will become more informed about the ways their bodies work throughout a workout. While this style of working out does require a little bit of extra brain power, research shows that the results are worth it.

Climbing training

If adventure and adrenaline are more your thing, you're in luck! Climbing trainer Teddy Cho said 2017 will be the year of rock climbing. He thinks this trend is the culmination of three things: climbing has entered into mainstream commercials and television shows (think American Ninja Warrior); the demand for climbing is rising among young people; and climbing has been included in the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games. So what should you know about climbing before you try out this year's hot climbing trend?

"The first thing every new climber learns is that it's not just upper body strength. The name of the game is largely body tension and coordination," Cho told me. He noted that climbing can be intimidating to new folks, but that achieving at climbing instills great confidence in you. While some people progress from indoor rock climbing gyms to outdoor sport climbing and bouldering, you may be content sticking to the indoor spaces with padding to break your fall. This type of climbing has just as many benefits. According to Cho, the training heavily overlaps with gymnastics, yoga, and dance as well. "Climbing takes this body-control precision and adds an extra demand of strength and power," he said.

"Uber" exercise

If you're a lover of Uber, Instacart, and other on-demand services you can access right through your smartphone, personal trainer and owner of Medical Fitness Pros Jason Hodge has some great news for you. "There is a good chance you will see some kind of Uber-like app in the future for exercise," he told me. The advantages of this kind of app is that it would allow people to find others to share a workout with. "There are several apps trying to link up people with personal trainers this way, but people that want to hire a trainer are going to search for a trainer, long-term," Hodge added. "You would rarely have use for an app like that if it helped you find a mechanic, so I don't see it working for personal trainers, but finding a walking partner or someone to meet at the gym — I could see that happening." Get those phones charged up and ready to search. Your next spin buddy could be just a tap away!

Suspension training

You may already be familiar with suspension training if you've ever tried a TRX class (or seen other people in the gym doing one). According to the TRX website, suspension training was born in the Navy SEALs and is a bodyweight exercise that develops strength, balance, flexibility, and core stability simultaneously. While TRX may be one of the most popular types of suspension training, it isn't the only one, and Shannon Barbadian, co-founder of Defy Gravity Studio in Newport Beach, Calif., thinks suspension training is going to a whole new level in 2017. "Suspension training is easy on the joints, hard on the muscles," she told me. "You work your muscles from head to toe, nothing escapes — reshape those abs, glutes, arms, and legs. It's incredibly easy to modify so every level can be in the same class." In addition to TRX, Barbadian mentioned Bodhi Suspension and told me she considers it a more evolved system. "Bodhi takes it to the next level with two separate ropes and four handles," she said. "We can now truly suspend [people] from the ground, taking their fitness levels to new heights."


Pilates trainer and founder of WundaBar Pilates Amy Jordan suggested that pilates will continue to rise in popularity in 2017 because people are interested in working smarter, not working harder. "I see so many clients who unfortunately have injured themselves lifting inappropriately heavy weights and looking to rehab with pilates," Jordan said. "What invariably happens is that they see this mentally connected work is actually more challenging and delivers even more incredible results than swinging heavy weights around."

In addition to the mind-body connection afforded by pilates, Jordan said pilates helps people bring balance to their lives, which thanks to our current society often involves leaning forward. Jordan provided the examples of sitting at our computers, staring down at our smartphones, and even driving and eating as activities that can throw you out of alignment physically and mentally. Jordan said that people are looking for a way to undo all of misalignment. "In pilates we do a great deal of work conditioning the back line of our body, including postural muscles, glutes, hamstrings, triceps — all with the core as our central starting point — to stand taller, leaner, and in a better head space," she told me.

"Real workouts" for real results

One of the things many recent workout trends have in common is that they're based on the way we all move every day. George Foreman III, undefeated professional boxer and owner of EverybodyFights boxing gym, is heartened by this change in the way we think about exercise. "I'm encouraged by the workout trends I've been seeing lately because they're all real. By that I mean they're grounded in science and proven methods, but also based on functional sports," Foreman said. "Instead of just lifting a weight after weight in one motion, people are boxing, running, taking pilates, yoga, and spin." Foreman went on to tell me, "Trainers, athletes, and general gym goers alike seem to have stopped looking for a silver bullet and appreciating what really works, like proper nutrition, cardio, and safely performed but difficult strength training and HIIT exercises." Foreman has used this very mentality in the design of his gym, which incorporates boxing drills, suspension training, rowing, cycling, heavy lifting, and more to create well-rounded fighters and gym goers alike.

Fitness is a personal experience

In my experience training a variety of different people with different goals, I've learned that fitness is a very personal experience. What works for one person won't necessarily work for someone else. Even if it works, it may not be enjoyable — and if you don't enjoy doing something, chances are you won't stick to it. Use these trendy workout ideas for 2017 as a way to try something new. Find a workout that makes you feel empowered and energized, one that you can see yourself getting excited about not just tomorrow, but three months from now.