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From gentle stretches to pumping Zumba – launch of 100 years of fitness video

25th March 2015

100 years of women’s fitness are under the spotlight in a new YouTube video which showcases fitness fads and movements from the 1910s to the current day – all in just 100 seconds.

100 Years of Fitness, which features a professional dancer, has already attracted more than 11,775 views and interest on social media platforms since its launch 5 days ago.

Created by Benenden, a provider of health and wellbeing services, the video is intended to shed light on the changeable nature of women’s exercise. Although the UK fitness industry is worth £4 billion and growing 1, with a record 13.2% of the population belonging to gyms 2, modern exercise would seem alien to women of the 1910s. 

Travelling through time, decade by decade, 100 Years of Fitness begins with the gentle stretch exercises favoured in the 1910s and 1920s: a time when perspiration was seen as “unfeminine.” The hula hoop and twister fads of the mid-20th century are also featured. The video ends with the biggest fitness movement of modern times: Zumba.

Lawrence Christensen, Group Marketing Director at Benenden, said: “Keeping fit didn’t begin with Lycra and aerobics classes. In stark contrast, sweaty exercise routines would have been a huge social faux pas for women of the early 20th Century.

“Both sexes have been keeping themselves in shape in different ways for centuries, so this showcase of the past 100 years is Benenden’s own tribute to the passage of time.”

For those fitness fans interested in finding out more about exercise trends and movements, from the forgotten to the famous, additional content is available. Benenden has produced an accompanying webpage with archive footage and stills, which explores the various fitness movements in depth:

Decades featured in 100 Years of Fitness:

1910s: women’s main form of exercise was comprised of gentle stretches that were said to improve the hips and, believe it or not, ease constipation!

1920s: fitness costumes included silk nightgowns.

1930s: the genteel Women’s League of Health and Beauty aimed to bring fitness to the masses. Its motto: ‘Movement Is Life.’ Members attended group classes and wore black shorts and white satin vests.

1940s: sweat-reducing exercises were the order of the day, including an early form of sit-up.

1950s: the hula hoop took centre stage, promoted as an exercise tool! Who knew you could have so much fun while burning calories?

1960s: the Trim Twist, a square of pressed board on top of a metal turning mechanism, was a hit with housewives and office workers alike.

1970s: former Broadway star, Judi Sheppard Missett, introduced Jazzercise! This combination of aerobic exercise and jazz dancing was designed to slim and tone, and is still practised in 32 countries today.

1980s: day-glo leotards and big hair dominated. High-energy aerobic routines and high kicks provided an intense cardiovascular workout.

1990s: Billy Blanks, an American taekwondo instructor, brought Tae Bo to the nation. His exercise trend combined taekwondo and boxing.

2000s: the decade in which fitness through dance returned. ‘Street dance’ passed through school yards and local neighbourhoods into dance studios and gyms.

2010s: fitness is more fast-paced than ever. Zumba incorporates elements of hip-hop, soca, salsa, samba, merengue and mambo. It feels more like a trip to a nightclub with friends than an effort to get fit.



 

1. http://www.leisuredb.com/

2. http://www.savills.co.uk/research_articles/173929/186682-0

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