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100 years of fitness fads captured in 100 seconds


A fascinating new video captures the changing landscape in women's fitness trends over the last century.

Decade by decade, the compilation takes us through the most popular women's workouts, from the gentle stretches of the 1920s, which were said to improve the hips and ease constipation, to the current day's high energy Zumba routines.

In the 1930s, fitness for women moved forward in leaps in bounds thanks to the introduction of the UK's Women’s League of Health and Beauty. Founder Mary Bagot Stack had the vision of creating “a league of women who will renew their energy in themselves and for themselves day by day”. Her fitness exercises were revolutionary, incorporating star jumps in large group classes for the first time.

Hula hooping in the 1950s

With the onset of war in the 1940s, many women began exercising in their own homes, including an early form of the sit-up.

Hula hooping became a craze in the 1950s, transforming the notion of exercise as something fun for both children and adults. 

That was until the Trim Twist came into play in the 1960s; a portable board and metal turning mechanism, which users would stand on top and start twisting to tone the stomach, bottom, arms and legs.

When Broadway star, Judi Sheppard Missett, introduced her new phenomenon Jazzercise - a mix of aerobic exercise and jazz dancing -  it caught the attention of 1970s fitness fanatics. The workout is still practised in 32 countries.


Iconic fitness fashion came into play in the 1980s, with day-glo coloured leotards and big hair seen just as much on the streets as it did in fitness studios. Jane Fonda dominated television screens and workouts focused on cardiovascular strength with high-energy movements and high kicks.

Tae Bo, a combined taekwondo and boxing exercise, caught the attention of the nation in the 1990s, thanks to American taekwondo instructor Billy Blanks. His mission was to promote fitness in every area of the body.

In the 2000s, urban street dance moved from school playgrounds and local neighbourhoods, into gyms and fitness studios.

Of course, the pace of fitness hasn't changed today with an overwhelming number of fitness routines available to us, whether it's the T-20 routine on the internet or spinning in the gym. It's both educational and inspiring to see how far women's fitness has come. 

Watch some of the most era-defining workouts from the last 100 years below.



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