The Top 10 Fitness Trends for 2019

From apps that keep you calm to socially conscious exercise apparel, Vancouver fitness writer Amanda Vogel rounds up the top 10 hottest fitness trends we’ll be seeing more of in 2019.

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Peloton Canada, bike
Photo Credit: Peloton

1. High-Tech Fitness

Technology has infiltrated pretty much every aspect of daily life, and fitness is no different. From the rollout of Apple GymKit in health clubs across the country to the Canadian launch of Peloton, our workouts are more connected than ever.

And, wearable tech now goes way beyond your wrist. Reebok has introduced a sports bra that utilizes the same technology as NASA space suits, new-to-Canada Motiv Ring is a sleek, waterproof “Smart Ring” you wear on your finger, and Electrical Muscle Stimulation (EMS) suits can cut your workout time in half while still delivering the same results.

In 2019, expect technology and user data collection to become more precise, helping you achieve even better results – without increasing effort. Winning!

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stretching recovery workout class
Photo Credit: Shutterstock

2. Recovery

Self-care dominated the wellness space in 2018, and for good reason. According to Meg MacPherson Morine, a registered physiotherapist and Pilates instructor, we’ve been pushing ourselves too far in all aspects of life and our workouts have followed suit with intensity. “Fortunately we are starting to see a more balanced and wholistic approach to exercise,” says MacPherson Morine. There are classes popping up across the country devoted entirely to stretching, foam rolling and regeneration in general. One we’ll be checking out: “Best Stretch Ever,” debuting at Equinox in January. This 30 minute class aims to improve posture, mobility and body awareness.

We’re also finally recognizing the value of sleep – especially when it comes to bolstering workout performance. In its annual roundup of trends, Pinterest lists sleep as a key topic for 2019, noting that searches for “sleep optimization” have increased by 116 percent. To help you drift off, check out the new Sleep Stories feature from the iOS and Android app Calm. Tune in to “slow narrative” bedtime stories for grown-ups meant to induce sleep through audio tales that mix words, music, mindfulness and sound effects.

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Oak Bay Beach Hotel pools
Photo Credit: Oak Bay Beach Hotel

3. Active Travel

It’s definitely nice to unwind poolside, but 2019 is all about active travel. Exploring new locations and new workouts at the same time has a lot of appeal, considering it could help you kick-start your fitness or journey off-the-beaten-path in popular destinations.

For a self-care vibe, try a February wellness weekend retreat at Oak Bay Beach Hotel in Victoria, B.C., designed to restore everything from mindset and sleep to nutrition and exercise. Wanderlusting for a fitness and wellness holiday abroad? Peruse offerings from global wellness travel company, Health & Fitness Travel.

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Photo Credit: Ernesto Distefano / Getty images for goop 

4. Wellness Festivals

While there are still plenty of music and yoga festivals to hit up, wellness themed festivals are on the rise. Goop’s wellness festival, In Goop Health, held its first Canadian summit in late 2018 at Vancouver’s Stanley Park Pavilion. The weekend event featured expert panels and workshops with a wellness spin. Note: Gwyneth did not make an appearance.

Other popular festivals with more of a fitness focus include Wanderlust and Lululemon’s Seawheeze.

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Photo Credit: Núcleo Fitness

5. Fusion Rowing

Participation in group rowing has ramped up this year—just look at any Orangetheory Fitness workout. The appeal is in large part thanks to rowing’s full body workout at a lower impact. According to Nathan Morris, owner of Vancouver’s Club Row, it’s a misconception that rowing is all arm work. “You use 85 percent of the muscles in your body on every stroke,” he says. The rowing machine also happens to be one of the best gym machines for weight loss.

In 2019, we’ll see more combo classes that pair group rowing with various fitness formats, like Pilates, boxing (as seen at Núcleo Fitness), and core strength exercises.

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Best Fitness Studios, Equinox
Photo Credit: Equinox

6. Upgraded Gym Amenities

When searching for the right gym, luxe amenities might not be top of mind, but they’re definitely a welcome bonus as we see more companies and brands going further to attract and keep customers. Toronto-based studio BOLO offers all-natural body products from Consonant in its change rooms, there’s a café complete with smoothies and snacks, and you can access free wifi in their lounge and co-working space. For an additional fee, you can even book an appointment at their in-house blow-dry bar. At Equinox gyms in Toronto and Vancouver, you’re treated to Keihl’s skincare, chilled, eucalyptus-scented face towels, as well as a fireside lounge-space.

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fitness class workout women
Photo Credit: Shutterstock

7. Cortisol-Conscious Workouts

High-intensity interval training (HIIT) has been a fitness trend forever (it’s a fave of celebrity trainer Jillian Michaels), but now we’re seeing the pendulum swing back to lower intensities with the buzz about HIIT’s gentler cousins LIIT (low-intensity interval training) and HILIT (high intensity low impact training), which intersperse less-taxing, lighter-paced and/or low impact exercises into the mix. (Try this HILIT workout from Nike Master Trainer Jennifer Lau.)

“Sometimes we need an intense, sweaty workout to relieve stress and increase endorphins,” says MacPherson Morine. “However, chronically elevated cortisol levels can increase risk of tissue injury, meaning that when we are living in a state of high-stress, it is essential to incorporate workouts that help to relax the nervous system and promote movement, breath and blood flow.” In fact, working out for too long and too intensely can have the opposite effect you’re looking for (Think: weight gain and injuries.).

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Way of Will Athleisure Beauty
Photo Credit: Way of Will

8. Athleisure Beauty

As consumer interest in beauty and fitness continues to merge, we’re seeing the rise of a new category called athleisure beauty. There’s the recently launched CliniqueFit line, with workout-friendly mascara, skincare, dry shampoo and more.

Canadian company Way of Will helps you freshen up post-workout with essential oil-based products for active lifestyles. Their “Be Active” bundle includes a sublime-smelling natural deodorant spray, body wash, muscle soak bath salts and other fitness-minded goodies.

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Socially ethical clothing
Photo Credit: Daub + Design; Photographer: Alex Waber; Model: Celeste Ziegler

9. Socially Conscious Activewear

This year, it became evident that we have a massive plastic problem. Combine that with the dire state of our climate, and things aren’t looking good for the future. Thankfully, consumers are waking up to these facts and supporting companies that do good. Vancouver-based Daub + Design creates their activewear garments in small batches to avoid excess stock in landfills, using non-toxic dyes and re-using water.

Canadian brand RYU, which stands for Respect Your Universe, operates on the concept of respect for oneself, others and the environment. In addition to supporting different charities throughout the year, RYU sponsors the Springtime “Workout To Conquer Cancer” in B.C. and every November they support and educate about mental health through their #RYUOneMoreRep kettlebell swing campaign.

For sneakers that support an active lifestyle and socially conscious mindset, look to Vessi Footwear from Vancouver. Their waterproof kicks are vegan-friendly. FYI, Vessi hit their Kickstarter goal in about 14 minutes for the Cityscape shoes they now sell on their website.

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Muse meditation
Photo Credit: Muse

10. Mental Fitness

With more people seeking out spaces to recharge and practice mindfulness, meditation studios are becoming more popular. (These are the newest mediation studios to open in Toronto.) And the benefits are real: A 2011 Harvard study showed that after 27 minutes of mindfulness exercises each day for eight weeks, participants had increased grey-matter density in their hippocampus (the area of the brain known for learning and memory) and in structures associated with self-awareness, compassion and introspection. They also showed decreased grey-matter density in the area known to play an important role in anxiety and stress.

Prefer to “om” at home? Muse is an EEG mediation device that measures your brain waves. The latest version (Muse 2, $299 at also tracks your heart rate, breathing and body movements so you can build an even better meditation practice. There are also plenty of meditation apps, like the top-rated InsightTimer.

Next, Best Health’s editors have rounded up 19 wellness ideas to help you kick off 2019 with a bang.

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