Are High-impact Workouts a Thing of the Past? – WWD

Slow and controlled is the way of the future. 

With mindfulness top of mind, low-impact workouts have taken hold, while high-impact cardio workouts have decreased in popularity. According to Mindbody and ClassPass, sculpt — “often a subset of Pilates, yoga and strength training” — was the fastest-growing workout in 2022. Boutique fitness studios, including The Class, have introduced their own versions of the workout.

“Sculpt and low impact work, especially at The Class, is about being very intentional, using healthy stress points,” said Natalie Kuhn, The Class co-chief executive officer and founding teacher. “It’s just as much about physical strength as it is about mental strength and mental training.”

Boutique fitness studio The Class has introduced their own version of the sculpt workout.

Several of the top 10 workouts booked in 2022 were also low impact, including strength training, yoga, Pilates, barre and stretching, as they offer physical and mental benefits.

“We’ve been seeing a noticeable rise in low-impact workouts, so that being Pilates, yoga,” Mindbody and ClassPass Wellness Council member Lauren McAlister previously told WWD. “Longevity is really the key and so as a result, people are looking to those low intensity and low-impact training and a little bit less of that high intensity training.” 

Here, key players discuss their approach to low impact. 

While low-impact workouts are extra buzzy right now — the hashtag #LowImpactWorkout on TikTok has more than 426 million views — it’s not just a trend for Melissa Wood-Tepperberg, founder of health, wellness and lifestyle platform Melissa Wood Health. For her, it’s always been the impetus. 

“It started as a trend because it became popular. People are doing [it], talking about it,” she says. “The reason why it’s here to stay and it’s become a movement is people are now experiencing these results beyond anything high impact ever gave them.” 

Melissa Wood-Tepperberg

Sarah Orbanic

While Wood offers an array of low-impact workouts on her platform, including sculpt, dance flows and yoga, Pilates remains the most popular — #Pilates on TikTok has accumulated 4.6 billion views. 

“They’re diehards for those 20-minutes-and-under full-body Pilates workouts,” she says of her community. 

While Wood-Tepperberg first came to Pilates after years of hardcore cardio and professionals telling her it’s what she needed to see results, fitness junkies are now more interested in functional movement now — movements that mirror those we do in everyday life — and workouts that help alleviate stress on the body and mind. 

“The reason I believe people are really gravitating to low-impact movements right now is because they are not only experiencing these changes and results that they’re seeing in their body, but it’s bringing more ease to your mind,” she says. 

With people more interested in this style, new concepts are gaining traction. 

Pvolve, entirely focused on functional movement, has garnered buzz after its recent partnership with actress Jennifer Aniston. 

“What functional movement means is that you’re mimicking your everyday movements, really supporting this idea that you pick up your kids or you get out of your car or you’re balancing on something,” Pvolve president Julie Cartwright previously told WWD. “All those things is what functional fitness is meant to support, so we move in all planes of motion.”

The brand, which has four studios but plans to operate more than 200 by 2025, has also doubled down on women’s fitness, as different phases of the menstrual cycle require different levels of movement, another factor driving the low-impact movement. The platform offers specific programming for menopause, fertility and menstrual phases. 

Alo Moves, Alo Yoga’s virtual platform, has doubled down on women’s fitness with its new Cycle Syncing collection, indicative of its continued approach to low-impact workouts. This program includes specific workouts that target each phase of the menstrual cycle.

Jade Morning for Alo Moves


“It really leverages modern thinking about how many different ways there are to move and still be impactful to your mental and your physical health,” says Alo Moves vice president of brand innovation Alyson Wilson.

While this program includes low-impact workouts, which are optimal during the luteal and menstrual phases, Alo Moves has recognized the uptick in this type of offering throughout the year. Users taking low-impact workouts, including barre, Pilates, stretching, walking, yoga and core, have increased by 51 percent this year.

“What you can get out of the workout is just as powerful with low-impact movement as it is with high-impact movement,” Wilson says. “It’s just a different approach and how your body responds is what you want to think about when you’re choosing the way you’re going to exercise.”

Although low impact’s popularity has remained steady primarily since the COVID-19 pandemic as people focused more on mindfulness and longevity, cardio and higher impact workouts are still a mainstay — spinning remained one of the most popular workouts in 2022. However, finding a balance is key because doing too much cardio/high-impact training can actually be detrimental, another element to low impact’s popularity.

“High-impact exercise would technically be anything where both feet are leaving the ground at the same time, like running,” says Dylan Davies, cofounder of weightlifting studio Lift Society. “Low impact is obviously less stress on the joints, more controlled movements.”

Lift Society


For those adding cardio to their routines, Davies recommends avoiding repetitive strenuous exercise, as it may lead to injuries.

“When you’re doing something repeatedly over and over again, unless you’re taking a lot of time to stretch or do other things in addition to it, that’s just recipe for injury because your body needs to move in multiple different planes and movement patterns,” she says.

Furthermore, strength training, which can be done with weights or body weight [as many low-impact workouts are], also burns more calories as the muscles continue to recover following the workout, according to Davies.

“You are getting the cardiovascular elements but you’re also getting all of the muscle building elements,” she says.

The Fashion Month refresh

With Fashion Month in full swing, stress — both physically and mentally — is seemingly inevitable. Whether you are exhausted from running venue to venue or are experiencing pain from craning your neck at a show, Wood-Tepperberg has a few tips and tricks for getting through Fashion Month that are nearly undetectable.

Deep breaths: “Come back to your breath,” Wood-Tepperberg says. “The beauty of meditation and breath work is you can be doing a practice, just sitting there watching the show and no one knows.” Try breathing in for four seconds and out for four seconds for a relaxing reset.

Standing movements: When standing in line, Wood-Tepperberg recommends “getting in some tiny little leg lifts on each side.” Try 20 repetitions on each side for a quick leg workout on-the-go.

Over-the-shoulder: “Whenever my neck is really tight, I always take a deep look over my right shoulder and then almost like I’m going to look behind me and then fully come back to center and then switch sides. I always do like a chin to chest drop,” Wood-Tepperberg says, noting this practice is easy to pass off as chatting with your seat neighbor.

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