100 years of Fitness

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When I think of this history of women keeping fit – my mind goes blank at anything before the 80’s. I imagine aerobics, sweatbands and shell suits – but before then, I can’t think of any popular ways in which women kept fit.

So when Benenden sent me across some information about fitness over the past 100 years, I was intrigued.

Have a watch at the video to see some ways women worked out in the past.

I find it interesting that in the 1910’s, some women considered stretching as a form of exercise!

In the 20’s, stretches and ‘exercise’ was done in full clothes and make-up, which seems convenient. But I can’t imagine running 10 miles in a dress.

More intense exercise was done on wooden treadmills and machines which I can only imagine look like Power Plates today. Wooden treadmills sound interesting. Have a look on Google, they don’t look like something you could really run on!

It wasn’t until the 1940’s that exercise became more about physical appearance and more about having a curvaceous figure.

The 1950’s saw the introduction of the hula-hoop. I love hula hooping and currently own 3. Ha. Not only is it good for your waist, but it’s a cool party trick to be able to do. When it first came out, 25 million were sold in four months! How mental is that? Young people loved it for playground games and adults saw the health benefits of it.

The 60’s brought on my favourite thing. The ‘trim twist’. The plastic plate that you stand on and twist as it rotates. The reason I love this so much is that my Mum had one in the 90’s and I used it all the time. It was used to tone up your stomach, bum and legs. I just found it really fun.

In the 70’s, a craze known as Jazzercise kicked off. I’ve not actually heard of this, it’s kind of a mix between aerobics and jazz. You can start to see the link from here around making exercise fun.

The 80’s really was the decade of fitness. With aerobics, leg warmers and the first exercise videos being released by celebs. Oh, and the big hair!

Tae Bo was the start of the 90’s, the exercise that combines boxing and taekwondo. I first remember seeing Tae Bo on Big Brother 2 in around 2000 – one of the contestants used to go to the garden and do a Tae Bo routine almost daily. I have to admit, I thought it was so cool that I memorised it myself in my bedroom!

In the 2000’s we saw the rise of the street dancing routines. To be honest, I was drunk most of this decade so don’t really know what was going on. #StudentLife.

This brings us to the current decade. Hello Zumba!

I think in years to come, we’re going to see an increase in fun races like Pretty Mudder, Colour Runs and Zombie Runs that will in courage women to get more active. I wouldn’t be surprised if there was some form of intense 90 day extreme exercise program released aimed at women, much like the P90X program!

To find out about each decade in a bit more detail, as well as see some videos of some of the things mentioned in this post, please go over to this article: 100 years of fitness.

How do you see fitness in the future?




  1. June 26, 2015 / 4:38 pm

    This is very interesting. There were wooden treadmills in prisons to keep the inmates tired and less eager to get into fights with each other. They don’t look very comfy and I assume they are similar to the ones used to exercise.

  2. June 27, 2015 / 7:50 pm

    Loved the video, such an interesting way of looking at the history of fitness. Also made me laugh how with each fitness craze we seem to wear less and less haha.

    I do love me a good Zumba class but I love seeing more and more women getting into things like weight lifting and more intense training programs that once upon a time on a man might have tackled.

    Sarah 🙂
    Saloca in Wonderland

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