Top trainers and nutritionists share their predictions for the future of the wellness industry.

By Rachael Schultz
Updated Dec 19, 2019 @ 5:15 pm
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The last decade has been all about going harder and faster all day, every day. We saw the rise of high-intensity interval training, the adoption of restrictive diets like keto, and thanks to new apps and advances in technology, an explosion in access to resources previously reserved for the rich and famous.

2020 is shaping up to be a direct reaction to not only the last year, but more so the last decade. “People are starting to realize that sometimes, less can actually be more,” says Francheska Martinez, Austin-based fitness and movement trainer. The next year (and probably the decade to follow) will be all about slowing down — your workouts, your stress levels, your drinking habits.

We’ve polled some of the best trainers and nutritionists in the industry to round up what they predict will be the biggest wellness trends in 2020. Here’s the top 10.

Recovery-Focused Training

For years, we’ve focused on training hard. Now, we’re turning to recovering hard. “If you train at a high capacity for weeks on end without proper rest and recovery, your returns diminish and you’re increasing your risk for injury,” says Martinez. Accessories like compression boots are trending, and even recovery-focused studios and services like flotation therapy, cryotherapy, and recovery IVs will all become more a part of people’s training regimine, agrees trainer Megan Roup, creator of The Sculpt Society.

A Plant-Forward Diet

There’s nothing new about the idea that cutting back on meat will benefit our health and environment. But among a rise in climate change advocacy, documentaries like Game Changers, and meat alternatives like the Impossible Burger being added to fast food menus and grocery store shelves nationwide, we’re seeing a massive movement toward being more plant-forward rather than meat-forward. Let’s be clear: that’s not the same as being full vegan. “It’s more about getting the benefits of eating more plants without having to follow strict diet rules,” says DJ Blatner, RDN, author of The Flexitarian Diet. “It’s about just eating what works for you without labeling it.”

Wearable Tech

Smart watches, sleep trackers, activity trackers — wearable tech is definitely still trending. In fact, it's the top trend predict for 2020 by The American College of Sports Medicine in their annual survey. “People want to track all aspects of their life, and having that data seems to help inspire them to do more,” says Kenny Santucci, personal trainer and coach at SOLACE New York. In 2020, what we'll see is more accuracy and accessibility — downloadable maps for trail running off the grid, features like electrocardiogram to monitor heart problems closer, and sleep trackers that determine what kind of workout your body is most rested for.

Primal Movement Training

Functional fitness — that is, strengthening and loosening our natural body movements — has traditionally focused around squats, presses, pulls. The newest iteration: primal movement, a part-dance, part-mobility workout we’re seeing in classes like “Animal Flow” at Equinox and Gold’s Gyms across the country. In recent years, moving your body like a caveman has begun to spread like wildfire not only due to it's dance-like appeal, but also to its plethora of health benefits,” says Martinez. “Primal movements aren't just flashy and fun, but they help with coordination, core strength, neurological development, and weight loss as well.”

Slowing Down for Hormonal Health

If we’ve learned anything over the past decade, it’s that Americans are seriously stressed and paying for it with their health. “Cortisol is the main hormone we talk about when we think about stress. It's our ‘fight or flight’ response and a lot of everyday things we do — like dragging ourselves to an intensive workout — cause it to spike. We need cortisol, but most of us are functioning with too much at all times due to lifestyle factors,” says New York-based dietician Lisa Hayim, R.D. Prioritizing things like recovery training, meditation and mindfulness, and mental health days will all continue to rise. And while we’ve known we need to slow down for a while, what’s new for 2020 will be doing less without the guilt, Hayim predicts.

Personalized Online Training Plans

The late 2010s have seen the rise of InstaTrainers and devotees following their training plans (see: Karina and Katrina, Kayla Itsines, and Kelsey Wells). But 2020 will take it one step further, with more and more ladies turning to personalized or nearly-personal plans from online trainers. Almost all trainers offer one-on-one digital plans and coaching, but more are doing subscription-based services now where you pay a set amount per month for access to five to seven workouts per week. It’s cheaper than in-person personal training in a gym, yet still offers some level of personalized guidance for the money, says Morit Summers, owner of FormFitness Brooklyn who does online training for many clients, the majority of which she says have found her online.

Sober Curiosity

It doesn’t always take a drinking problem to justify giving up drinking. Ruby Warrington’s Sober Curious, published at the end of 2018, has caught like wildfire over the past year. The basic premise? Hangovers are the worst and alcohol may be keeping you from living your best life. “It used to be that any social occasion or celebration meant alcohol. The 2020 trend is about finding social things to do or ways to celebrate without alcohol, usually in pursuit of greater health and wellness,” says Blatner. This movement is about being curious what it’s like to be tuned-in, instead of numb to the people and things around you, she says.

Smart Gym Tech

People want the convenience of working out at home, but the community aspect has been missing up until now, says trainer and yogi Shauna Harrison, Ph.D. Peloton and MIRROR both are blowing up because they offer ways to interact with others without actually being in the studio — and we’ll probably see more brands starting to replicate this model, she says.

Cold Workouts

Gone are the days of equating more sweat with burning more body fat. “Whether it's hot yoga or heated spin, exercising in a hot room is far less effective at increasing your metabolism than exercising in a cold room. Moreover, research shows us that exercising in a cold room feels easier and you can do it for longer,” says LA-based trainer Harley Pasternak. While we've already seen cold studios popping up, like Brrrn in New York (where you work out in a 45-degree room), we’re going to see more and more of this as we enter 2020, says Pasternak.

Circadian-Synced Intermittent Fasting

We know intermittent fasting — that is, limiting the hours you eat within and elongating how long you fast for — can help with everything from weight loss, to longevity, to reducing major disease risk and improving your digestion. The problem: It’s really hard to wait till 2 p.m. to eat breakfast. What’s more, eating helps alert your body it’s time to wake up, so waiting until noon or later to eat your first meal can interfere with your circadian rhythm (your natural, 24-hour clock that regulates when you're tired and awake), says Kelly LeVeque, holistic nutritionist, celebrity health coach, and author of Body Love. She’s encouraging her clients to approach IF slightly differently: Eat when it’s light out and stop eating once it’s dark. This reaps all the benefits of a longer fast while still supporting and syncing with your circadian rhythm.