Well, if you’ve ever looked down at your podgy middle and thought to yourself, “I should get some more exercise,” again, then this article may do two things.

It may remind you that you have been around long enough to know fitness fads come and go – a lot.

And, it may also remind you that you’ve tried most of them and, hey, look, you’re still podgy around the middle!

So, today we are going to review the history of gym equipment and fitness fads from the 1960s through to the 1970s. (Later years to come!)

Let’s face it, being obsessed with our shape and our looks is nothing new.

Human beings have been doing this for centuries.

However, in the past 50 years our need to be fit has resulted in some pretty amazing and, let’s say, interesting devices and fads.

Let’s turn back the dials on the time machine 50 years and visit some of the more interesting pieces of equipment and personalities that have tried their hardest to get rid of our podgy middles.

In 1966 the world was introduced to vibrating belts.

With absolutely no research or evidence to support their claim, makers guaranteed that wearing the vibrating belt would melt away fat and all you had to do was stand still.

It didn’t, and, in fact, the only calories you did burn were the ones used to stand upright while everything from your toenails to your dentures got shaken to bits.

As more and more women took up sedate careers sitting behind typewriters, Stretch Classes were introduced in 1968. Women often attended these classes straight after work to stretch away muscle stiffness while still wearing pencil skirts and heels.

Things really got moving a year later in 1969 when Jazzercise was started by Judi Sheppard Missett.

These fast moving, energetic classes took over and ruled the fitness industry through to the 1970s. Based on exercises and dance moves, Jazzercise has become an icon in the fitness industry.

Even the Grinch in Ron Howard’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas, has an hour blocked out on his calendar for Jazzacise – go on, watch the DVD, it’s there.

Now, we can’t leave the 60s behind without tipping our hat to the Bullworker.

With a staggering 9 million sold worldwide, this ingenious method of strengthening muscles through isometric exercise is still being sold in various forms today.

Promoted by Arnold Schwarzenegger and ridiculed by Benny Hill, this amazing advice made you fitter, stronger and removed unsightly chest hair – all at the same time!

Developing on from Jazzacise was the Aerobic Dance movement. Jacki Sorensen started the whole thing way back in 1973 by making people’s hearts beat out of their chest in an exhaustive list of movements set to popular music.

She was inspired by Dr Kenneth Cooper and Col. Pauline Potts who, in 1968, while working for the US Air Force, developed and researched the effects of high intensity exercises and people’s use of (or desperate need) for oxygen.

Clearly aerobics wasn’t for everyone, well, not lazy people anyway, so in 1974, someone invented Sauna Suits. Not unlike plastic garbage bags – they were in fact, plastic bags - the idea was to wear them until you sweated off the pounds.

However, overuse and misuse resulted in people becoming quite unwell from dehydration and heat stroke.

In 1975, we saw body building taking off like it never had before.

Showing off your muscles has been popular for hundreds of years and we can thank Eugen Sandow, who is considered the father of bodybuilding, who made a profession out of it way back in the 1890s.

However, it wasn’t until meatheads like Arnold Schwarzenegger and Lou Ferrigno started pushing their bodies up and out beyond what’s consider normal that this sport started becoming really popular with national and international competitions popping up everywhere.

So, as you can see this impressive list of equipment shouldn’t be gathering junk in your garage.

Instead, it should be helping you get a firmer, flatter stomach; become fitter and healthier - not the podgy and creaky you who is reading this.

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