The first traditional fitness class happened in 1969 and began to see growth in the 1980s. The Aerobics and Fitness Association of America created the first standards and guidelines for group exercise in 1983. By 1984, it was reported that 24.4 million Americans participated in aerobics.
In the 1980s, aerobics was viewed as popular but also very dangerous. Aerobics began to diminish when injury concerns started to rise at an alarming rate, specifically in the lower body, such as the shin, feet, and knees. From this discovery, it was then determined that poor form and conceivably a lack of knowledge from instructors contributed to this rash of injuries. As a result of this, low-impact aerobics was introduced.
Low impact aerobics had a dramatically smaller injury rate when compared to high impact aerobics (9% and 65% respectively). In part because of the significantly lower risk for injury, experts considered it to be a better option as opposed to high-impact aerobics. Nowadays, many different types of fitness-based classes are deemed popular.
An interesting takeaway is that at least 59% of participants in group fitness classes are aged 35 or older. Recent studies have said that 64% of the participants are older than 45. Additionally, fitness classes continue to be female-dominant with 74% percent of the participants being women.
As the model for fitness continues to evolve to a virtual or hybrid aesthetic, fitness classes (both group and individual) will continue to gain popularity. According to a Club Industry report published earlier this year, “Since the pandemic, 75 percent of active adults have used live-streamed workouts and 70 percent used on-demand videos to support their exercise regimen” (RunRepeat). Given these statistics, and with the world shifting virtually and hybrid throughout other walks of life, we may continue to see a steady increase in individual fitness sessions going into the near future.