The Most Popular Fitness Trends Over the Past 6 Decades

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Remember a time when people were exercising and weren't trying to look for ways that they can look like models without doing any work and without even breaking a sweat? Yes, never. This exact strive to accomplish the impossible has given rise to many fitness trends over the years, some of which are flat out dangerous. The following list is in no particular order.


Hula Hooping

This was the exercise of the 1950's. The trend took over when California toy Wham-O put a plastic version on the market. These days the toy, which you twirl around the waist, limbs or neck, is used for fun.



Who can Arnold Schwarzenegger as a young man? He arguably made bodybuilding famous. Lifting heavy weights became really popular in the '70s. The actor was probably the first really big star who changes his physique due to weightlifting. 


Vibrating belts

People in the '60s were falling for the myth that you can do very little and be lazy while you are exercising. This is how the craze over vibrating bells came about. Maximum results for minimum effort is still a lie many people fall for. The best you can hope for with the belt is a light massage.



Aerobics and Jane Fonda are synonymous. She is often referred to as the "queen" or "mother" or aerobics; she certainly took the routine mainstream in the '80s. The videos are among the best-selling exercises videos of all time.

Screenshot: Music On TV1/Youtube

Sweatin' to the Oldies

Remember Richard Simmons' Sweatin' to the Oldies from 1988? The routine is basically dancing to music. Who knows whether people actually mostly recall the workouts, the curls or the shorts...Or perhaps it was the energy with which he was doing it all.



As the name suggests, this is a workout that mixes jazz and some more conventional exercises such as cardio and resistance moves to create a full-body workout. The workout was founded in 1969 by Judi Sheppard Missett, but didn't really take over by mid-1980s.


Nordic Track machine

The 1980s were a booming time for the fitness industry. This machine is just another trend from back then. You probably don't have to think for too long to remember someone who had the Nordic Track. This cross-country skiing device basically became the top fitness machine to own.


Marathon training

Over the last decade or so it seems like everyone is training for a marathon, a half-marathon or some other race. It's great that people are taking up running, because its health benefits are seemingly endless, but it's crucial that you don't make training mistakes.


8-minute abs

Abs were big in the '90s. This popular video from 1997 is taking you through 8 minutes of exercises designed to work different parts of your abdominal muscles. You had to do a lot of different crunches, even though this is an exercise some fitness experts say you it's a waste of time.


Low-carb diets

Not eating a lot of carbs was a popular trend for years in the '90s. The body needs a combination of carbs, fat and protein to function properly. Too little of one and too much of another will throw its equilibrium off, resulting in malnourishment, weight gain and muscle loss. Carbohydrates are the body's No. 1 go-to for fuel. Without it you will eventually lack energy, experience brain fog, and feel depressed and moody. This is not to say you have to eat pasta every day. Opt out for vegetables, fruits and whole grains as the best sources of carbs.


Abs roller

It was invented in 1994 and its goal was to help people do crunches while having something supporting the head, neck and upper body. It was also used to do sit-ups and dips. It sold about $1 billion worth of products. You can still buy it on Amazon.



It was created in mid-80s but it took over in the '90s. Anyone hasn't seen the colorful commercials? It was the machine to have if you wanted a gym at home that takes up as little space as possible. There was a recall of some machines in 2004 after which their popularity didn't really recover. You can still find upgraded versions on Amazon.


Tae Bo

This full-body cardio workout that is a mixture between tae kwon do and boxing. You work out while listing to music, usually hip hop. The workout was created by martial artist Billy Blanks. Paula Abdul and Brooke Shields were famous clients in the '90s.


Thigh Master

Squeeze, squeeze, and squeeze...Who knows? Maybe if it weren't for Suzanne Somers few people will have heard of this small at-home workout device. This was her first fitness products ?? she has since been the face of others ?? and arguably still the most popular one.


Functional training

The late 2000s brought functional training. The term may sound confusing but it really means doing exercises that improve the overall balance and coordination of your body. It focuses on strength exercises that increase endurance and flexibility so your body has a wide range of motion. All of this helps you perform everyday activities easier.



Founded in 2000, CrossFit didn't take long to take over the fitness industry. The sport has been popular for about a decade but it has reached its peak because of the high injury rate. The workout involves mixing high-intensity cardio and strength exercises with aerobics and gymnastics.


TRX Suspension Training

This trend is still going strong. This is basically a portable gym in a small bag. It consists of two nylon straps with handles that can be hung over a door. It can be used to perform a wide variety of full-body exercises and can be used almost anywhere. It's popular because it naturally challenges balance and stability, something very important as people get older.


Sauna suits

You've seen people wear trash bags while exercising in order to burn more calories because they sweat more, right? This is similar, and it is NOT a good idea. Your body can get too hot and you're risking extreme dehydration, cramping and even heatstroke.



It became really big in 2010's, even though classes have been order for years before that. Fans love it because it's a killer workout and as well as a party because you get to hang out with lots of people while loud music is playing.



Similar to yoga, but with a slight advantage for building more strength and lean muscle mass, Pilates is a full-body workout that also improves flexibility, making it an especially great option for those who want to stay fit and healthy as they age.


Cardio Striptease

This workout, created by celebrity trainer Jeff Costa, was a thing of the 2000s. It was simply aerobics done in a sexy kind of way. You have probably seen the videos or at least commercials of Carme Electra's Aerobic Striptease. Pole dancing took off as a result.



Kickboxing, also referred to as boxing aerobics and cardio kickboxing is a hybrid of boxing, martial arts and aerobics that offers an intense cross-training and total body workout. Some estimates of kickboxing's calorie burning potential have reached as high as 500 to 800 calories per hour, but ACE-sponsored research suggests that only very large individuals working out at exceptionally high intensities are likely to burn that many calories.



Created by Colombian dancer and choreographer Alberto Perez in the '90s, it really took off in the 2000s. It's basically dancing fitness with hip-hop and moves from Latin dance styles. There is even a Zumba Cruise, a five-day, fitness-focused cruise that, in addition to a tropical trip at sea, offers passengers up to 300 fitness classes and activities.


Fitness apps

There is an app for every kind of fitness you can imagine. You can actually put your smartphone to good use and download a good health and fitness app. However, the apps are not going to do any magic. They won't work unless you really commit to following the steps.


Barre classes

They became popular after 2005. Barre workouts are ballet-based. You work your entire body, as most classes involve mat-based exercises like planks and push-ups in addition to the lower-body portion that focuses on squat- and lunge-type moves performed with the assistance of a mirror-mounted ballet-type bar.


Cleanse diets

Quick and extreme weight loss has always been a goal, but it seemed like everyone was on some kind of cleanse and detox diets throughout the 2000s. They can actually be dangerous in many ways. Don't fall for marketing campaigns - the body cleanses itself naturally on a regular basis without the help of pills, miracle juices, organic teas, or acupuncture foot pads.


Boot camps

In the '90s people started going on trips where the goal was to exercise and eat healthy things all the time under the supervision of experts, of course. Sounds like military training, right? Hence the name. Boot camps can be helpful in making a workout more social and fun. They are usually very intense. Some even claim you will burn about 1,000 calories per session. Routines often consist of treadmill interval training, strength training with and without weights, using resistance bands and medicine balls.



Yoga has been around for about 5,000 years, but it seems like everyone started doing it around 2004. It's not just a workout; people swear by it for improving their mental health as well. Yoga is accessible to exercisers of all levels and backgrounds.



They became a trend as soon as they came out ?? 2007. It and other similar fitness trackers have only grown in popularity.  They can't really tell how many calories you have burned ?? this depends on too many natural biological variabilities.  

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