The 2018 fitness forecast

What will be big in the new calendar year, according to Equinox’s Health Advisory Board

Last year, Equinox’s health advisory board helped us predict what topics would be top-of-mind in 2017. These experts suggested we’d resist healthcare authority, buck come-and-go fitness trends, recognize sleep as a key form of recovery, and learn to cultivate our own energy.

Here, they opine on what’s to come in the next 12 months.

1. Resiliency training will gain traction.
“Many fitness protocols are, themselves, not sustainable. Doing the same movements over and over leads to breakdown and injury and repetitive metabolic overload (doing the same work intensity time and time again) does not maximize physiological benefit long-term. Folks on the leading edge of training will begin implementing sessions focused on building resiliency in their bodies. Moving in different ways and loading the body in odd positions, training with various intensities, and exposing the brain to new stimuli will all be programmed into a training cycle to improve resilience of the body and increase physiological readiness.” —Michol Dalcourt, founder of the Institute of Motion and renowned expert in human performance

2. Stem cells will go mainstream.
"The new health revolution is harnessing the power of the cell to heal itself. Stem cells are like living ambulances that provide valuable growth factors and healing resources for damaged or injured cells. They are currently being used in dermatology to improve skin healing and aesthetics and in orthopedics to heal worn-out joints and repair damaged tendons and cartilage. Now, they’re being used experimentally in cardiology to heal heart failure and in neurology for post-stroke treatments and possibly even [to] improve outcomes in dementia. Truly, 2018 is the year of the cell.” —Jeffrey Morrison, M.D., C.N.S., founder of the Morrison Center in New York City

3. Health business mergers will create a focus on preventing disease.
“We know health is a continuum—not merely the absence of disease. Yet 97 percent of the nation’s healthcare resources go toward treating disease. This is about to change and with it will come a new focus on the patient as consumer. This is already under way, spurred by upheaval and uncertainty across the healthcare landscape. CVS Health’s acquisition of Aetna, 2017’s largest merger, proposes to bring medical care to the corner drugstore. Meanwhile, Amazon is eyeing the pharmacy business while Google and Apple are planning to deliver medical care by way of cellphone. In 2018 we’ll see this trend expand, with partnerships bridging medical care and consumer health and retail services. Consumers can expect to see a greater range of retailers take interest in managing their health. Conversely, traditional providers of healthcare will need to do a better job of treating their patients as consumers with options. To survive, health systems will re-think the customer experience and seek to provide end-to-end-services that encompass health, not just disease.” —David Stark, M.D., medical director for the Institute for Next Generation Healthcare and an assistant professor of health system design and global health at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York

4. Next-gen technologies will help us understand our bodies better.
“As we've learned over the years, nutrition and exercise research can feel really complex and confusing—it is even for top researchers. There are just too many independent variables that influence health and fitness to tease them apart with standard experimental trials. However, this is what technologies like machine learning and computational biology (perhaps even artificial intelligence) excel at... searching mountains of data for meaningful relationships. As these technologies are almost ready for widespread use, 2018 is going to be an exciting time where they are used to help us learn more about how bodies work and how to translate those findings into practical recommendations." —John Berardi, Ph.D., CSCS., co-founder of Precision Nutrition

5. ...and we will put that understanding to more meaningful use.
“[Tracking] will go way beyond simple heart rate and step monitors. Everything we eat will show a blood sugar value on our Apple watches in the future. That will be the game changer. Also, we will perfect the understanding of our micro flora and may be able to modify it. Beyond 23andMe, we will be able to determine through epigenomics what exercise is best for us.” —Jacques Moritz, M.D., associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Weill Cornell Medicine in New York City

6. We'll learn to fight Alzheimer's earlier.

“In 2018 we will hear a lot in the news about Alzheimer’s disease and its rapidly growing prevalence and staggering personal, social, and economic costs. We will hear about advances in neuroscience that promise to turn the tide, and about drugs that are being developed that we all hope will combat this disease. Yet, we are also learning that our greatest leverage against it may not be when we’re old, but while we’re in our 30s, 40s, and 50s, when our choices about fitness, diet, and sleep may be setting the stage for our brains aging well or aging poorly.” —Jeffrey Iliff, Ph.D., associate professor at Oregon Health & Science University’s School of Medicine

7. We'll take air pollution seriously.
“A major health issue that is gaining worldwide attention at an accelerating rate is air pollution. Just as we should be concerned about what we eat, we should be equally concerned about what we breathe. Inhaled particulates and fumes cause inflammation in the lungs which can potentially spill over to affect the rest of the body including the musculoskeletal system.” —Christopher B. Cooper, M.D., professor emeritus of medicine and physiology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles

8. It'll be the year of the 'every woman.'
“In 2018, a fundamental piece of social conditioning is unwinding. The underlying, subtle fear that held women back from standing up and speaking up is melting away. No matter the result of this skirmish or that news cycle, make no mistake: If 2017 was Wonder Woman, 2018 is Every Woman. About time, too—banish fear all ye who enter here. There is a subtle sexism in the gym and in the industry. Time to let it go, guys.” —Tom Myers, director of Anatomy Trains