Fitness Trends over the last 50 Years


There always seems to be a new diet trick to try, or some magical workout that will slim you down in no time. Although some of these fitness fads are laughable, they all came from somewhere. Take a trip down memory lane and reflect on some of the old fitness trends.


Jazzercise…does that sound familiar? The 1970’s was the era of Jazzercise, which actually was a real workout. Jazzercise was basically a choreographed dance routine, that also translated into exercise, with of course music to go along.

The 1970’s was also went Weight Watchers program became extremely popular. Jean Nidetch started the program, after she successfully lost 70 pounds on the diet she formulated. Weight Watchers is still a program active today, although better diets that have improved off the ideas Jean created years ago.

Another notable diet on the 70’s was slim fast- a diet option that was entirely based off drinking a shake. It become popular because instead of having to meal plan, you could simply just drink this shake and have breakfast, lunch, or dinner ready for you.


Aerobics was inspired from Jazzercise, the exercise of the previous decade. Kenneth Cooper, a former military doctor, created aerobics in order to prevent coronary artery disease. If you are looking for a distinction between jazzercise and aerobics, just picture people in poofy hair and leg warmers…that’s aerobics. As for the fad diets of the 80’s, Jenny Craig’s diet is one of the major ones.

You may have remembered this meal replacement plan run its ads all over TV, with celebrity endorsers like Kirstie Alley, Queen Latifah, Valerie Bertinelli, and Mariah Carey. Speaking of celebrities, Oprah is also responsible for making another diet popular: The Liquid Diet. However, this backfired as losing weight off of only consuming liquids is not healthy at all. Liquid diets cause you to lose muscle and water, not actually fat.

Plus, you do not get enough carbs or protein. Oprah later states she regrets ever encouraging it on live TV.


This decade was all about workout videos. People would pop in a VHS tape and follow along with an instructor, doing various workouts. Even though this is not so much of a fad, people realized using pills to diet was not the best option to lose weight. Another major realization in the 90’s was that cutting sugar from your diet improves health greatly. Thus, low sugar diets were born. Not bad!


Remember when everyone used to have indoor bikes for cycling in the early 2000’s? Thanks to the program SoulCycle, exercising via indoor bike became a phenomenon. The name given to this fitness fad is called ‘spinning’. A more recent fitness trend are shake weights. In 2010, there was a reported $40 million dollars in sales for shake weights.

The ads for shake weights got your attention with beautiful girls using the shake weight- which is basically a glorified dumbbell.
Lean Cuisine may sound familiar too, as the boxes for these pre-prepared meals still sit in the frozen aisle at grocery stores. Their main goal? To cut the carbs, and to save people time who don’t want to plan out their own meals (kind of like Slim Fast, but with more substance).

The 2000’s was also when detox teas started to emerge and become popular. The idea of getting rid of toxins in your body is, of course, a positive idea and healthy, but detox teas are often sold as a cure-all.

Every decade will have new, popular fitness trends that take the world by storm. Some have no actual benefit, while others do hold merit. Just be careful in what diets you participate in; if something sounds too good to be true, you’re probably right.