Fitness Fads Throughout History

group of girls stepping in a fitness club

With obesity on the rise for years, there’s been a large and constant demand for a new and fun way to stay in shape. From people-shaking belts to the shake weight here is a list of our favorite fitness fads.

  1. Vibrating Belt. Popular in the 1960s, users would loop an elastic belt connected to a machine around their waists, thighs, or love handles, and shake, shake, shake, right into a smaller size. The only problem? This machine did little more than simulate a small earthquake.
  2. ThighMaster. Touted by spokesperson Suzanne Somers, this popular ‘90s product claims that with “a few squeezes a day” users will “tone, shape and firm” inner thighs.
  3. Aerobics. Thanks to such high profile advocates as Jane Fonda, these musical workouts were the thing to do in the ‘80s.  Not only did this fad spawn many a book and video tape, it also inspired the leg warmers/neon/leotard look that has now become synonymous with ‘80s fashion.
  4. Sweatin’to the Oldies. The famously enthusiastic Richard Simmons developed these workout tapes after spending his childhood and young adult life being obese. Setting them to upbeat songs such as “It’s My Party” and “Pretty Woman”, Simmons crafted his workouts so people of all levels of fitness can get involved.
  5. Tae Bo. A seasoned martial arts veteran, Billy Blanks designed the Tae Bo workouts to include martial arts elements in his high-energy, cardio-intensive workout.  Unlike some of our other favorite fads, this workout definitely packs a punch. (Pun intended!)
  6. Toning Shoes. SKECHERS and celebrity promoter Kim Kardashian are to thank for this fad that was never quite proven to be effective. SKECHERS Shape-ups claim to “increase lower leg muscle activation and increase calorie burn” just by walking in these shoes.
  7. Wii Fit workout games. “Fun and fitness” in one product? It’s no wonder this trend took over the technology generation. Using the Wii remote’s motion sensor technology as well as the added tool of a motion-sensing balance board, these games focus on balance, strength training, and aerobics; it even has a trendy yoga training feature. Two particularly cool features are the Feedback and Calories Burned data.
  8. Shake Weight. Made popular by their seriously amusing infomercials, this 2.5 lb. weight claims to use “dynamic inertia” to increase muscle activity by 300 percent more than a standard dumbbell workout. In keeping with its infomercials, its website confidently proclaims, “If your arms aren’t on fire after just six minutes, return the Shake Weight for a 100 percent refund.”

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