Evolution of Fitness: From the 1940s to the Present Day in 10 Trends

Wearable fitness bands had to come from somewhere.


You can get a rundown of fitness evolution from any standard gym class you’ve taken. Some coaches have you hula hoop, jump rope, do P90X workouts, use weights, or track your steps. Basically, each of these things was hugely popular at one time in the last century, and many of them are used as important methods of exercise, except for a few, such as the vibrating waist belt, which was one of the biggest cop out exercise has ever produced.

Celebrities have endorsed these methods as well, influencing whether or not the trends would rise to popularity or fizzle out without much of an impact on the fitness world. Here’s a list of the most popular fitness trends from each decade.

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1. The Hula Hoop

Though the modern hula hoop was only created in 1958, using hoops for exercise or dance has been a popular form of entertainment throughout history. Native Americans would perform hoop dances as part of their religious rituals. Hula hoops, as we think of them today, were extremely famous in the 50s and 60s. In recent years, hula hoops have been used for weight-loss, and Kelly Osbourne claims to have lost 70lbs using hula-hooping as her preferred form of exercise.


2. Bodybuilding

Muscle Beach had long been the epicenter of testosterone-filled competitions between muscular lifters. In 1940, Vic Tanny pioneered the creation of his weightlifting gym, which was known nationwide. He only lived two blocks away from Muscle Beach in Santa Monica, and his gyms were credited with drawing, even more, attention to the beach.

Not far away, in Venice, California, Joe Gold opened “Gold’s Gym” in 1965. After the gym was featured in the 1977 film Pumping Iron, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, the gym became internationally famous. Soon, several corporate gyms popped up, which boasted more than just weightlifting and appealed to both women and men.


3. Vibrating Belt

In the 50s and 60s, a strange contraption became all the rage. It used a vibrating strap you put around whatever area you think is problematic because of its flabbiness — and let the machine do all the work. Advertisements for the device claimed it would jiggle your fat to the point where it would be flushed away from your body’s system.

Unfortunately, the users of this miracle machine saw no improvement. The machine’s popularity ended after scientists came out saying this was not actually how fat loss works — at all.


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