Saturday, 11 February 2017

Fitness: Activity in History part 9

In the 20th and now 21st centuries, people don’t just watch sports. They have the opportunity to participate in various activities. In fact, they are encouraged to get moving by government policies, the media and the marketers of fitness equipment. 

In the mid 20th century, Charles Atlas advertised his brand of body building with the story that he had used it to develop from a “98-pound weakling”, to appeal to men. Did it work? I don’t know, but it is a tag line that has resonated through the years. A craze that got more people going in the ‘50s was the hula-hoop; part kids toy and part adult challenge. 

Advertising kicked things up a notch in the ‘80s using celebrities to flog equipment, like Suzanne Sommer’s Thigh Master, or to capitalize on a fad, like Jane Fonda’s fitness tapes which added another dimension to the aerobics craze. In this decade another male bastion was breached when women were encouraged to get into weigh training. The ‘90s made roller skating cool again with the development of roller blades and, those who were seriously into getting fit, could run through their paces in a Boot Camp. 

Boot Camp was still big when the new millennium dawned but so were yoga and, the newcomer, pilates. Spinning was also a popular gym activity. This moment’s trends are activity counters like the Fitbit, which encourages people to get walking while allowing them to use social media to create groups of users to encourage and compete with each other. Who can say what the next fitness craze will be?

Whatever it is, people will join in, reminding us that it is good to play and move if our health allows. But you don’t have to follow the latest trend. Even traditional activities can have health benefits. 

Skating on the Rideau Canal became a tradition in 1971.

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