It was quite a good year to be a health and fitness enthusiast, especially after two whole years impacted by Covid-19. Apart from being able to return to the camaraderie of working out with friends and participating in races, there were some innovations that created waves too. Some others disappeared without even creating a ripple. Social media continued to play an important role in shaping workout and nutrition trends. It was key to creating a buzz around fitness and disseminating knowledge and information. Here are 10 trends, products and concepts that worked, sort of worked and didn’t work at all in 2022.
Continuous Glucose Monitor and metabolic health: Largely due to a greatly effective strategy of tying up with celebrities, continuous glucose monitors, especially Ultrahuman, generated a lot of curiosity and chatter. The device, combined with a smart app is capable of tracking metabolic health. The selling pitch was that by tracking metabolic health, you can achieve better results with your nutrition and workout plans. Partly due to the invasive nature of the device and partly due to the high prices, the response has been mixed at best.
Connected exercise bikes: The Peloton connected bike was the success story of the pandemic and it inspired a few local entrepreneurs (Tread and Flexnest) to come up with similar connected bikes with an on-demand workout service. As of today, no one is talking about these bikes, and back in the US, even Peloton has seen a sharp drop in demand and relevance. Meanwhile, connected workout mirrors, which was supposed to help you keep a correct form, didn't even make a ripple.
Home gyms: One of the biggest investments in the health and fitness sector in the last two years was by individuals who bought fitness equipment to set up their home gyms. Anyone who has invested in a home gym has most likely gone back to the gym by now. But despite that, home gyms continue to survive. After all, if you don’t feel like dealing with traffic or are short on time, you can simply turn to their home gyms and not miss a session.
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Virtual races got boring: Running is arguably the most popular mass participation sport. While thousands signed up for virtual events till as recently as the first quarter of 2022, people are well and truly bored of virtual events and have returned to the real thing. These events were missed so much, that many Indian runners actually went through the trouble of Covid tests, exorbitant ticket prices and multiple forms to run international races, including the New York and Boston Marathons. Just wait and watch what happens when the Tata Mumbai Marathon returns after a two-year break on 15 January.
Protein Madness: First it was protein bars, then it was protein-rich and protein-infused drinks and snacks. Now, even mass market brands and start-ups have jumped onto the protein bandwagon: launching everything from buttermilk to dosa to ice creams. It’s become such a craze that even people who don’t exercise or play sports are talking about the importance of protein.
Carbon tech shoes: A few years ago, Nike debuted their carbon shoes with the promise of making you faster than you already are. There was a clear demand among runners for running shoes with carbon tech despite the high costs. Back then these shoes were very exclusive since supply was low. Now, every brand offers them and you could get a pair for as low as ₹12,000 depending on what deal you get. They are popular on race day and runners like the idea of anything that can help them get faster.
Apple Watch Ultra: Apple, finally addressed the needs of serious recreational athletes and launched the Apple Watch Ultra. Like all things Apple, Apple fans in the fitness world have embraced it despite its high price, still comparatively poor battery life, slightly outdated companion app and compatibility issues with non-iPhone smartphones. But this is a first step in the right direction and expect rapid improvement that will force the leaders (Garmin) and front-runners (Coros, Polar, Fitbit) to sit up and innovate.
Intermittent fasting: Forget Keto and zero carb, 2022 was the year of intermittent fasting. It is one of the most effective ways of weight loss because it is a lot less restrictive by design and easier to follow due to the simplicity of its rules. Intermittent fasting has been a thing for a good few years now, but this year, it was being spoken about everywhere: from running clubs to parties.
Percussion massage guns: These grew in popularity not only among those into any sports or exercise but also among anyone who suffered from muscle tightness, pains and aches. The gun lets you massage the affected and painful areas and does bring relief by releasing the tightness and tension in the muscles. The two best percussion massage guns in the market are the Hypervolt and the Theragun.
The rise of climbing: Thanks to its inclusion in the Tokyo Olympics and the subsequent mushrooming of climbing influencers on social media, there has been a clear rise in interest in climbing globally. In India more climbing gyms are opening in the big cities. It seems to be a trend that will only grow in the coming year. So, get your chalk on and get climbing.
Shrenik Avlani is a writer and editor and the co-author of The Shivfit Way, a book on functional fitness.