Science Spotlight: New Fitness Trends Work Group, Webinar Updates and More

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Science Spotlight: New Fitness Trends Work Group, Webinar Updates and More

July 12, 2023

Science Spotlight

ACSM’s Worldwide Survey of Fitness Trends: Introducing the New Trends Work Group

ACSM’s Health & Fitness Journal® (HFJ) is excited to announce its newly formed work group focused on ACSM’s Worldwide Survey of Fitness Trends. The priorities of the Trends Work Group, chaired by A’Naja Newsome, Ph.D., ACSM-CEP, includeincreasing the focus of the survey on certified and practicing professionals,updating the development and validation of the trends included each year, and working to grow the project to ensure its continued relevancy.

“I was an undergraduate student at Georgia State University when Dr. Thompson produced the first trends survey article. I am honored to be part of the next phase of this article and project,” said Newsome. “I am most excited to build on its impact through the development and validation process. The goal is to continue offering a resource for health and fitness professionals that is reliable and evidence based.I am also looking forward to working with international collaborators to examine the state of the health and fitness industry globally.”

The Trends Work Group consists of the following industry professionals:

  • Chair — A’Naja Newsome, Ph.D., ACSM-CEP
  • Survey Expert — Cayla McAvoy,Ph.D., ACSM-EP
  • Survey Expert — Rachelle Reed, Ph.D., ACSM-EP, NASM-CNC
  • International Representative – Alexis Batrakoulis, Ph.D., ACSM-EP, ACSM-CPT, ACSM-EIM, CSCS
  • Industry Representative — Matthew Parrot, Ph.D.
  • ACSM’s Committee on Certification and Registry Boards (CCRB) Representative — Jessica (Sudock) Sansone, Ph.D., M.S., ACSM-EP, EIM

Associate Editor-in-Chief Paul Gallo, Ed.D., FACSM, ACSM-EP, ACSM-CEP, ACSM-GEI, oversees the annual trends issue and has worked in conjunction with Editor-in-Chief Brad Roy, Ph.D., FACSM, ACSM-CEP, and Newsome to assemble this outstanding team.

“I am excited about the implementation of this work group and the skill set that each highly qualified professional brings to the Trends issue of ACSM’s Health & Fitness Journal® as we strive to continue to expand the reach of this survey,” said Gallo.

ACSM’s Worldwide Survey of Fitness Trends began with Walter R. Thompson, Ph.D., FACSM, in 2006 when the first survey was conducted, with results publishing in the November/December 2006 issue of ACSM’s Health & Fitness Journal®. Thompson also is credited with building relationships with China, Brazil, Europe,Mexico, and Spain to expand the survey to other regions. Since 2018, under the leadership of Vanessa (Martinez) Kercher, Ph.D., M.Ed., FACSM, ACSM-CEP, the annual trends issue has grownto include international results from regions around the globe, including Australia, Brazil, China, Europe, Mexico, Portugal, and Spain.ACSM’s Health & Fitness Journal® values the time and contributions of the vast community of volunteers who have created and grown this project over the past 17 years and looks forward to continued growth of this project with the new Trends Work Group.

“Since 2006, the annual trends survey articles, penned by Dr. Walt Thompson, have been ACSM’s Health & Fitness Journal’s most widely read articles, and it has been exciting to see Dr. Thompson’s vision expand to include surveys conducted in other regions of the globe under the leadership of Dr. Vanessa(Martinez)Kercher,” said Roy. “I am delighted with the exceptional group of professionals that have come together to carry the trends issue forward to new heights under the leadership of Dr. A’Naja Newsome.”

Meet the Trends Work Group:

A’Naja Newsome, Ph.D., ACSM-CEP, is a lecturer in the Department of Health Sciences at the University of Central Florida. She received her Bachelor of Science degree in exercise science from Georgia State University and earned a doctoral degree from the University of South Florida. Newsome is an exercise physiologist and has worked in clinical settings to integrate physical activity and exercise in patient care and rehabilitation. She specializes in methodological and measurement aspects of physical activity research and evaluation. Her research focuses on the role that exercise plays in clinical and mental health care.Newsome also is interested in the psychosocial aspects of exercise in health promotion, such as self-efficacy and motivation. She has more than a decade of leadership experience in collegiate recreation, clinical exercise physiology, and sport performance coaching. Newsome is a highly regarded content expert in exercise psychology; behavior change; and DEI in physical activity research, assessment, and program evaluation.

Cayla McAvoy, Ph.D., ACSM-EP, is a recent Ph.D.graduatein public health sciences from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Cayla earned her M.S. in exercise physiology from the University of Central Florida and her B.S. in kinesiology from Indiana University, her home state. Cayla’s research focus is physical activity measurement in the college student population and exercise as a form of preventative medicine, and she specializes in electronic data collection. Prior to returning to school for her Ph.D., Cayla worked as the assistant director of Fitness for Campus Recreation at Florida Gulf Coast University. To this day, Cayla is a yoga teacher at heart and by trade, and she truly believes that physical activity behavior can shape the lives of individuals, families, and communities.

Rachelle Reed, Ph.D., ACSM-EP, NASM-CNC, bridges the gap between academia, the health and wellness industry, and the consumer, connecting the “clinic” to the community. She holds a B.A., M.S., and Ph.D. in kinesiology; completed a postdoctoral fellowship in exercise psychology; and is also an ACSM Certified Exercise Physiologist and NASM Nutrition Coach. Prior to her current role as chief science officer at SweatHouz, she chaired the medical advisory board for Orangetheory Fitness, facilitating science and research partnerships with the American Heart Association, Optum, Therabody, and others. She brings forth expertise in research coordination, health behavior change, the social determinants of health across the lifespan, body composition, and metabolism. Still deeply passionate about education and continued growth within her field, Rachelle remains part of the part-time teaching faculty at the University of Georgia and serves on the ACSM CCRB Continuing Professional Education Committee.

Alexis Batrakoulis, Ph.D., ACSM-EP, ACSM-CPT, ACSM-EIM, CSCS, is an adjunct lecturer in the Department of Physical Education and Sport Science at the University of Thessaly in Trikala, Greece. He was named the 2018 IDEA Personal Trainer of the Year, 2019 IDEA China Fitness Innovator, 2020 NSCA Personal Trainer of the Year, 2021 PFP Trainer of the Year, and 2022 ACSM Certified Professional of the Year. He is also the founder and director of the International Obesity Exercise Training Institute.

Matthew W. Parrott, Ph.D., is a 20-year population health veteran who has and held multiple leadership positions within commercial and corporate wellness. A former university professor, Parrott is an accomplished author and speaker with a variety of credited publications and events. These include peer-reviewed research papers, textbook chapters, wellness industry conference sessions, and a weekly newspaper column. Parrott has held board positions with ACSM, the International Association for Worksite Health Promotion, and the University of Kansas Business School. For the past decade, he has worked exclusively with Fortune 500 companies to maximize employee health outcomes. He is currently director of business development with Quest Diagnostics.

Jessica (Sudock) Sansone, Ph.D., M.S., ACSM-EP, EIM, earned her B.S. in exercise science and health promotion from Central Connecticut State University in 2015. She earned both her M.S. and Ph.D. in exercise physiology from Springfield College. She is a former Division I athlete and is currently an assistant professor in the Department of Exercise Science at Shenandoah University. She is a member of ACSM’s Office of Museum, History, and Archives of ACSM; the CCRB Executive Council; and chair of the CCRB Certified Personal Trainer Committee. She is a an ACSM Certified Exercise Physiologist and is Exercise is Medicine® credentialed. Her research interests include hydration and strength training for performing athletes.

Paul M. Gallo, Ed.D., FACSM, ACSM-EP, ACSM-CEP, ACSM-GEI, is the director of exercise science and wellness at Norwalk Community College in Norwalk, Connecticut; adjunct faculty at Teachers College Columbia University, in New York; and a past president of ACSM’s New England Chapter. Dr. Gallo is the chair of ACSM’s CCRB-Continuing Professional Education Subcommittee, associate editor-in-chief of ACSM’s Health & Fitness Journal®, and associate editor for the Journal of Clinical Exercise Physiology. He strongly believes in the importance of translating science to evidence-based practice within the health-fitness and exercise science fields

PAA hosts “Physical Activity among Different Populations” webinar July 13.

The Physical Activity Alliance (PAA), alongside speakers from HHS, Tivity Health, and the American Association for Retired Persons Livable Communities, will break down the key findings from the new Midcourse Report. The webinar will discuss how to create physical activity opportunities for older adults across the U.S. | July 13, 2023, 10 a.m. PDT.


ODPHP hosts “Increasing Physical Activity Among Older Adults” webinar July 19. 

ODPHP will share evidence-based strategies from the Midcourse Report with state and local health departments about what works to get older adults moving. The webinar will include key strategies to increase physical activity among older adults, alongside presentations by the Washington State Health Department and the Florida Department of Health, Hillsborough County, sharing details on their respective efforts to promote physical activity and healthy aging. | July 19, 2023, 3-4 p.m. EDT.


Funding opportunities from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. 

Research proposals and initiatives focused on achieving health equity are now open. The summer 2023 RWJ Foundation initiatives and engagement opportunities include: 

  • Health Data for Action (Data Access Award) to support innovative research proposals that inform health policy. Eligible research projects can focus on a variety of topics, including but not limited to national practice patterns in long-term care; public health surveillance and population health; rehospitalization rates; the opioid epidemic; maternal and infant health; home- and community-based services; racial and ethnic disparities; health care costs and utilization; prescription patterns and medication adherence; prevalence of chronic disease; trends in insurance markets; consolidation and competition; and rate comparisons. | Application Deadline: Friday, August 18, 2023, noon EDT 

  • Healthcare Equity in Communities of Color for Older Adults with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities award for proposals that support projects fostering health and health care systems transformation for older adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities in communities of color. | Application Deadline: August 15, 2023, 5 p.m. PDT