The biggest fitness trends of 2017
The year in sports technology, and a look at where it's headed
It seems like you were training for spring 2017 races just yesterday, but now the year is done. A lot has happened in sports technology over the past twelve months, so we thought it would be fun to identify the most significant trends, and peer into the future to see where things are going...
#1 - Fitness tech is still a big deal
The SportTracks community is filled with people who are serious about endurance sports, so it goes without saying that fitness tech is popular with this crowd. Zooming out, it appears that activity tracking and wellness remain popular with the masses. What originally looked like a fad three or four years ago has blossomed into a bonafide trend — and it may be here to stay.
While some fitness tech products struggled in 2017, overall interest and engagement among the general public grew. A great example of this is the Apple Watch Series 3, which debuted with an ever-tighter focus on fitness. Its hallmark feature — an LTE radio for phone calls and music streaming — directly targeted casual athletes in its marketing. All told, interest in using tech to track fitness is bigger than ever, and it seems like it will only expand in 2018.
#2 - The proliferation of Running Power
Power is a brand-new metric for gauging your effort in running, and it requires specific hardware to record and monitor it. At the start of 2017, the Stryd footpod was just beginning to ship to customers, and by the end of the year Garmin was offering a running power solution of their own. There are now several running power meter manufacturers actively shipping products, and it shows no signs of stopping. A clear explanation of the benefits of using power in running can be found here.
While it's still in its infancy, many athletes and coaches are seeing impressive results utilizing run power data. One current drawback is that you get dramatically different wattage numbers on the same efforts if you use multiple power meters on the same run. But even with these teething pains, running power was a hot topic in 2017, and its popularity will likely spread in 2018.
#3 - Heart rate monitors were everywhere
Data from power meters, either from bikes or running sensors, have gotten the most buzz in sports technology for the past few years. But while power has been hogging the limelight, the venerable heart rate monitor has quietly made its way into nearly every fitness tracker and smartwatch that rolls off the assembly line.
Look at Garmin's current lineup of running watches. The Forerunner 220 was once the most popular mid-range running watch, and it was replaced by the equally popular 230. Both lacked HRMs. Today the 230 is no longer listed as an active product (even though you can still buy a new one). In its place is the 235, which is the same watch with a built-in HRM. Garmin released the Vivoactive 3 in 2017, which is an activity tracker with multi-sport modes. This model seems like a quasi-replacement for the 230, and of course, it has an HRM built-in.
#4 - Indoor training was less seasonal
Riding a bicycle on a stationary trainer has traditionally been a tedious chore. Everything cyclists love about the sport: the movement, rushing air, undulating terrain, competition, teamwork, etc. is gone, and all that remains is the monotonous task of grinding away at the cranks. With the advent of smart trainers and engaging cycling programs like TrainerRoad and Zwift, riding indoors has transformed into a rewarding way to improve your fitness at home.
Indoor training used to be an activity conducted primarily during winter months, when it was too cold to properly train outdoors. However, excitement about indoor training never seemed to die down in 2017. It remained top-of-mind deep into the summer months, and on prime-time TV the general population in the USA watched commercials about Peloton, the latest spinning craze. As big as it was in 2017, a far larger number of virtual miles will be cranked out in 2018.
#5 - SportTracks got some awesome new features!
Okay, we admit that the new features in SportTracks are not among "the biggest fitness trends of 2017", but we're still excited about them! The following fitness tools came to you in 2017...
- Structured Workout Plans (with the ability to export directly to Garmin)
- Full support for Styrd run power data
- Color-coded map tracks with workout metrics and intensities
- Wireless custom workout sync with Genius Wrist
- Daily and weekly workout Progress Reports
- Automatic data sync with the HRV4Training app on Android
- Automatic data sync with the Concept2 Rower, PainSled, and Rowsandall
- Automatic data sync with the Garmin Index Smart Scale
- Powerful, new workout comparison features
- Automatic data sync with Polar
- New gear-tracking features
- The ability to track workouts with Apple Watch
- Automatic data sync with Elite HRV mobile apps
- Flexible Goal Tracking features
We have many exciting announcements planned for 2018, and we can't wait to share them with you. Cheers to a happy and healthy 2018!
Fitness tracker graphic by Anton Barbarov from Noun Project