The year 2000 will herald a diversity of exercise options, according to the American Council on Exercise (ACE), a not-for-profit "workout watchdog" organization dedicated to promoting the benefits of safe, effective physical activity. ACE's top fitness predictions for the new millennium include:
* Adventure workouts. Many exercisers will replace treadmill and weight workouts with rock climbing, hiking, mountain biking and other outdoor activities that enhance body and spirit.
* Fitness for the "health of it." More people will seek fitness for health reasons instead of solely for appearance. Exercise will become a vital component of disease management, with a focus on systematic exercise for conditions such as diabetes, coronary disease, blood cholesterol disorders and depression.
* Virtual coaching. On-line personal training will become a cyberspace staple, enabling clients to virtually interact with their trainers from remote locations. New Internet-based personal training sites will allow individuals who pay a monthly fee to receive training services or work directly with a personal trainer to design programs, track progress and learn on-line.
* Smart equipment. Customized exercise programs and heart-rate interactive treadmills already exist. The next step will allow people to download workouts into a hand-held device they can take anywhere. Equipment also will be able to personalize messages that greet and motivate individual exercisers.
* Mind/body fitness. "Mindful" exercise will increase in popularity, particularly many styles of hatha yoga, tai chi, stretch-relaxation and Pilates-based programs.
* Sport-specific personal training. Recreational athletes looking to boost performance in golf, tennis or another sport will increasingly seek personal training assistance in reaching their goals.
* Lifestyle exercise. Incorporating fitness into everyday life will become more popular, with home gyms becoming a standard feature of new houses.
* Political push for fitness-friendly communities. Greater government involvement in promoting physical activity may include legislation for bike paths, mandatory physical education programs in schools and financial incentives for helping people become active or scoring well on exercise tests.
* Goal-oriented fitness. People will increasingly seek to get fit to achieve a goal such as completing a race or physical feat--such as a week-long bike trip.
* Fitness toys. Props will become more popular in fitness classes, which will feature creative ways to use devices such as step platforms, stability balls, strengthening, stretching and agility equipment.
* Mini-workout centers. Exercise machines will become common in places where people typically sit and wait, such as laundromats and airports, and in shopping malls and grocery stores.