We love our jobs: Reporting obsessively on the health and fitness scene in New York and across the country. And this time of year we do something really exciting on our beat—take an eagle-eye look at the news we've covered all year long to forecast where things are headed.
So without further ado, silence your cell phone and sit in lotus for a look at our 10 top fitness and wellness trends of 2014.
Want a hint at what’s coming? A new era of next-gen indoor cycling, a green-juice-a-day mentality, a stylish shift in yoga pants, and a growing awareness about (and distaste for) fake food. Check out all 10 trends now...
(Photo: Cyc Madison via Facebook/Cyc Fitness)
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1. A Green-Juice-A-Day Mentality
Green juice, and cold-pressed juices in general, used to be thought of almost exclusively in the context of a cleanse. And when we think back on the origins of the big New York City juice brands—Organic Avenue, BluePrint, Cooler Cleanse—they were all cleanse-focused companies in the late aughts. Now, each is much more focused on the grab-and-go juice market.
While people still do juice cleanse, green juice has moved into the daily habit category. And all of the juice companies launching now, whether it’s Suja, Love Grace, or Heartbeet, cater to a growing number of customers looking for their daily servings of greens in an easy-to-grab bottle, not to hit the cleanse reset button.
Peering ahead, we predict that these health-seeking urbanites are going to be offered more ways to partake in their juice-a-day habit, whether it’s with juice six-packs at the grocery store, or a wider variety of price points and sizes of sippable veggie blends.
(Photo: Instagram/Organic Avenue)
2. Hotels Obsess Over Wellness
In the past, hotels have raised their profiles by adding five-star restaurants, swanky spas, and socialite-drawing nightclubs. Now, wellness is the must-have amenity. A slew of properties, like The Westin, have introduced running packages and "running concierges,” guests at Trump Hotels can request rooms with yoga mats, weights, and Under Armour fitness apparel, and Element Hotels now advertise their use of non-toxic cleaning products and bikes that charge your mobile devices.
It’s even happening at New York’s downtown hotspots like The James, which offered rooftop yoga over the summer, and the Dream Downtown, which just opened a Melvin’s Juice Box and began hosting Sunday yoga and meditation sessions. As more properties follow suit, enticing healthy food menus and solid fitness options will become as expected as the (healthy) minibar.
(Photo: Serene Social yoga at The James via Well+Good)
Even with the spinning world’s Pepsi (Flywheel) and Coke (SoulCycle) opening a trillion outposts, indie spin upstarts are thriving in New York City.
Each of these “other” indoor cycling brands have pedaled onto the scene with their own unique character: Syncstudio, Torque, and Studio 360 in New York also offer yoga for post-cycling tight quads; Swerve introduces team competition; Cyc Fitness courts college students; Revolve and Crank offer varied instructor-driven class styles instead of one studio flavor; Pedal NYC pairs cycling with TRX and bodyweight resistance training; Pablo Fitness delivers the trademarked Spinning classes that are hard to find.
Many more, like Peloton, are scheduled to debut soon, and with this much momentum, they’re likely to keep opening faster than you can pedal downhill.
4. Black Yoga Pant Dominance is Over; Print is In
Now that everyone has a favorite pair (or five) of chic, black yoga pants in her workout wardrobe, a big shift is moving to printed, even wild, workout pants.
Call it the Black Milk-ification of leggings, the Australian company who innovated a selfie movement and cool aesthetic that’s more Nylon Magazine than Yoga Journal. Black Milk, along with brands like Onzie, Teeki, and K.Deer Haute tile Instagram with their 17,000 variations of nylon cuteness, while adorning the most-followed yogis.
Coveted patterns that range from the astronomical and anatomical to original postmodern prints keep us shopping—as do limited-edition runs, whether by season (as with Lucas Hugh), or a stint of six weeks (Nike). And with an increase in variety, more legging lovers than ever are now able to find fitness clothes to match their fashion sense.
(Photo: Lucas Hugh leggings via MyEscape.co.nz)
5. Good-For-Your-Gut Foods
Michael Pollan’s ode to the microbiome published in the New York Times this year brought a topic that was increasingly buzzworthy in research circles to the masses—it convinced people everywhere that a balanced, happy gut is one of the biggest keys to longevity and health. The attention added fuel to a fire that forward-thinking physicians like Dr. Frank Lipman and Dr. Mark Hyman had been stoking for a while, and shone light on related issues like leaky gut and Frankenwheat.
The result? A boom in demand for foods that promote healthy gut bacteria, like fermented sauerkraut, kimchi, and miso, yogurt, kombucha, and kefir. On food labels, “probiotic” may soon be the new “gluten-free.”
6. CrossFit Diversifies
Last year we claimed that CrossFit would become a household name. Our prediction came true—and then some. There are now more than 6,000 gyms dedicated to the high-intensity, heavy-weights workout around the world. More than 10 new boxes opened in New York in 2013 alone, bringing the city’s total number closer to 40. And as the primal fitness phenomenon grows, it’s bound to become more segmented.
Where every box used to be bare-bones, there are now luxe options. Some new boxes are offering small classes with more personal attention to differentiate themselves from the mega brands. And others are offering yoga and kids classes. There are even women-only boxes around the country. And as more people join the early-rising ranks of this workout, the CrossFit options will continue to grow.
7. Coconut Oil is the Next Argan Oil
Easily the year's most popular and multi-tasking natural beauty ingredient, coconut oil is poised to crack open a whole new beauty category, with companies capitalizing on the ingredient’s (often raw, vegan, organic) buzz and its beautifying promise.
The kitchen staple became an affordable DIY beauty practice as a hair conditioner and de-frizzer to a moisturizer that balances dry or inflammed skin. And the fatty-acid-rich nut oil is appearing on the labels of artisanal, luxe beauty brands, like S.W. Basics and RMS Beauty. It’s in Nourish Organic’s range of body washes, Kjaer Weis’s just-launched Foundation, and Neal's Yard's new natural mascara.
We predict that it won’t be long before L’Oreal, Revlon, and other drugstore brands get into the game with a slew of coconutty products, proving that we’ve all gone cuckoo for coconut oil.
(Photo: S.W. Basics)
8. Fake Food Awareness
With increased awareness of Frankenfoods, GMO legislation, and the potential transfats ban on the Federal level (not just the penchant of a quirky New York City mayor), people are increasingly aware that foods can be bad for you for reasons other than too many calories or carbs.
Although voters rejected GMO labeling in 2013, there’s an increasing concern and empathy for the need. Indications include films such as “OMG, GMO,” legal suits against companies claiming to be natural, and the bringing to light of which big food companies are throwing money at blocking labeling or resisting transparency of their ingredients. Or heck, the McRib controversy.
In 2014, we think more people will have a hard time swallowing these unresolved issues, and that those sitting down to dinner will be more likely to ask the question: Is there food in my food?
(Photo: Colbert takes on Transfats via Colbertnation.com)
9. Hot Yoga, not Bikram
Apparently yogis love to sweat. In New York, nearly every new yoga studio that opened in 2013 came with a thermostat set on high—Lyons Den in Tribeca, Unity Yoga in Harlem, Y7 in Williamsburg, and more. Canadian-based Moksha/Modo Yoga now has more than 75 locations around the world, and CorePower Yoga has a sweaty following all over the United States.
And we’re not talking Bikram. While Bikram Choudhury still has a robust yoga community, excitement over the yoga practice has suffered, due to its scandal- and lawsuit-plagued figurehead and its emphasis on a rigid path. Hot yoga now has a million and one variations, and the new hot yogi practices at his or her own pace with literal and metaphorical flexibility. Which makes for greater mass appeal going forward.
(Photo: Moksha Yoga via Myadvegture.wordpress.com)
You used to wash your vitamins down with water. Now the water is the vitamin. Of course, Vitamin Water famously started the trend but healthy types quickly figured out it came with a whole lot of sugar in the bargain. So smaller companies are stepping in to offer cleaner options—with specialized nutrients for your every need.
Vrou water is a made-for-women multivitamin; Turmeric Alive delivers antioxidant-packed turmeric and energy-boosting matcha; Mamma Chia provides omegas via floating chia seeds; King Kava promises to de-stress you with relaxing kava root. Soon, there'll be a drink for every nutrition need—no pill-popping required.
(Photo: Facebook/Turmeric Alive)
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