HOW FITNESS BECAME A CULTURE

Fitness, gyms and workouts are everyday words we take for granted. But it has not always been like that. Looking back 50 years, we can easily sum that humanity has gone through such transformation to culminate in fitness becoming a culture.

At the turn of the 1960s, it was all about the Jayne Mansfield, Liz Taylor and Marilyn Monroe well-endowed looks. They were “fleshy” and buxom with hourglass figures and possessed looks one would die for. In fitness, one name ran abuzz throughout the TV world and it was Jack LaLanne. Pushing 50, broad shoulders and looking decades younger, millions of American housewives tuned into his channel and between his trademark “inhale and exhale”, were doing exercise in between housework and chores. A fitness prodigy, nutritional expert and motivational speaker, Lalanne lived to a ripe old age of 97, leaving us only in 2011.

Smoking was glorified all through the silent movie era and through the 1960s and 70s. Every hero lit up even if they weren’t smokers off-screen. That saw the ugly progression to drug-pop culture with the advent of the Hippy social revolution which started in California in the mid-60s. Fitness was almost non-existent but long hair, beards and appalling personal hygiene took precedence. That generation was often described as “social decadence” but nevertheless it was an era of love, peace, art and music.

Things began to change dramatically in the 1980s. Music-makers promoted drug-free lifestyles and a fitness milestone was etched with Jane Fonda’s release of the Jane Fonda Workout Book and Video in 1982. Many women were soon into aerobics at feverish pitch. Weight loss, working out a sweat, fitness and body toning were top of their agenda. In short, feeling and looking good! It was an era where fitness and nutrition wisdom took center stage.

Men were into the fitness foray all along too. The early 1980s was an era of Rambo and Arnold where flexing bulging and toned biceps and six-packs stole the show. All along, pervasive research was being conducted on exercise, nutrition and all areas of sports science. These have also progressed to what we know of them today – advanced and scientific. Since the 1990s, fitness has taken on a new meaning altogether. Enthusiasts were growing by leaps and bounds and they were knowledgeable too. Exercise equipment producers saw a global boom and research and development soared bringing the sophistication of today’s equipment to you.

In today’s society no matter if you are in Kuala Lumpur, Sydney, London, New York or L.A., fitness has become a culture. Looking at folks today you can’t help but notice how well toned their muscles are. They have broad shoulders and more statuesque posture. It is not because of the fortified foods they eat or that their genes have gone through revolution. Rather, it’s all in working out. It’s all about selecting which muscles you wish to tone or build; or if you wish to add on six-pack abs. Contemporary fashions also tend to accentuate upon our assets with body-hugging and shape-showing attires. Showing your well-toned arms and legs have all of a sudden become fashion pluses and going sleeveless besides being relaxingly casual is also a physique statement.

So do you feel left out if you don’t spend 30 minutes on a treadmill or bike? Or do you share your workout stories with your friends? Do friends of yours drop by the gym at least 2-3 times a week? How many among your friends have exercise equipment at home? All of this is happening around you because science, medicine and philosophy all recognize the importance of making fitness a part of our lives and are striving hard to enfold us into their healthy world. So come on. Join hoards among humanity that have discovered and embraced fitness to be a part of their lives!