The Fitness of Christmas “PAST” – Present -Future: Part 1

The Fitness of Christmas “PAST” - Present -Future: Part 1

A Christmas Carol, the old Charles Dickens' novel, has a special theme that we can relate to many of life’s experiences. This is a holiday classic that you may have watched growing up. As a refresher, this Christmas tale is about a man, Ebenezer Scrooge, who is visited by three spirits, the past, present, and future. Each spirit showcases different scenarios that have had an impact on others.

Since it is the Christmas season, and a time to reflect, it seems right to revisit where fitness has gone over the years, from short-lived fitness fads to revolutionary trends that are still popular today.


It was a magical time when exercising was starting to become ‘something’. Gyms were in warehouses, sometimes grungy, hole in the wall spaces with benches, barbells, and hand weights.

Guys would pump the heavy weights aiming to ‘build size’ by cycling their workouts with the typical split of back/ bi’s, chest/ tri’s, shoulders/ traps, and maybe a leg day. There was a craze for synthetic supplements that made ‘bulking up’ like Arnold every guy’s mission.

The ladies would sweat it out while following the latest diet fads aimed to look supermodel skinny. Group exercise became a ‘thing’ and it started with jazzercise, hi-lo, or step aerobics. Step touch, grape vines, side bends, and sit-ups went great with a pair of leg warmers, a leotard over leggings, and a sweat band to match. Other trends were to spend countless hours of cardio on the Nordictrack, Stair Master or elliptical machines.

During this time, the beginning of the ‘exercise era’ was formed and set a tone that we can remember fondly, leg warmers and all.


Let’s take a journey back to the “Fitness Past”, pre 2000’s, to remember what ‘physical exercise’ was then and discuss some of the 'old school’ exercise trends and those gimmicks that sounded good in theory, but didn’t quite work.

‘The 90s’


1. Step Aerobics

• An aerobic craze developed by Gin Miller, to initially help strengthen the supporting muscles of the knee by stepping up-down in place. The Step evolved into a creative way to burn calories with a choreographed routine. Tae Bo

• Billy Blanks rolled out his high energy, full body cardio mix of tae kwon do and boxing drills set to hip hop tunes.

‘The 80s’


1. Jazzercise

• Created by Judi Sheppard Missett in 1969, but didn’t make it big until the 80s. This workout mixed jazz with cardio and resistance moves in a dance style. Aerobics

• Can you say leg warmers, leotards, and Jane Fonda?! She’s the queen of aerobics and took it mainstream with the best selling exercise videos of all time! (I have just about very VHS she made!!)

2. Sweatin’ to the Oldies

• Richard Simmons’ is one to remember with an energetic and disco sweat style that got all fitness levels moving to fitness fun. His short shorts, sparkly tanks, and curly hair are images you can’t forget!

‘The 70s’


1. Bodybuilding

• Arnold Schwarzenegger arguably made muscle size matter. Lifting heavy weights became popular in the 1970s and created a look that young adults strived to accomplish.


In addition to the “classic classes of the past”, there has also been some unforgettable pieces of fitness equipment that we either grew to love, or simply used as a clothing rack!

Who could forget the Thigh Master! Suzanne Somers set the trend to slim and trim the thighs with a single device at home. There was also the Ab Roller that helped people do crunches while proving support for the head, neck, and upper body. The Slide Board tried to make a breakthrough as a tool to improve lateral movement and trim the thighs. (1980’s)

The 70s had a revolutionary creation that marked the start of cutting edge home fitness equipment. This is when The Total Gym was created- the name says it all! It’ versatility was designed to provide a total body workout by using gravity as resistance. This equipment was the start of the infomercial world showcasing Chuck Norris and Christie Brinkley performing their home fitness routines.

As we venture further back, along came the machine that did it for you by buckling up your body with a Vibrating Belt. It aimed to vibrate the fat away without breaking a sweat to get maximum results with little effort. (1960’s) Last but not least, Hula Hooping was known for trimming the waistline and eventually became a popular toy to twirl around the body for fun. (1950’s)

Some fitness fads flare and fizzle, while others stick around or inspire new variations on a classic theme. One thing we have learned from the past is that being physically fit has been the wave of our future. It’s never to late to learn classic exercises that will still be around for years to come.


Stemming from the past, the Total Gym has been a staple in home fitness equipment. This workout contains 8 ‘old school’ classic moves that are legendary from when Total Gym was first introduced.

An ‘old school’ workout wouldn’t be the same without the following warm-up. So let’s take it back to the old school where aerobics was so cool….


• Step Touch & Grape Vine
• Hamstring curls
• Side Bends

Guys with BIG muscles in mind:

1. Pull-Ups
• High incline, attach Pull-Up Bars

2. Chest Press
• Low-high incline based on your strength level & goals, attach Cables

3. Bicep Curls
• Low-high incline based on your strength level, Cables

4. Squats
• High incline, attach Squat Stand

Gals wanting to WIDDLE the middle and SLIM the thighs:

5. Glute Lifts
• Medium incline, Squat Stand

6. Outer - Inner Thigh Leg Lifts/ Calisthenics
• Low-medium incline, Cables

7. Arm Circles
• Low-medium incline, Cables

8. Sit-Ups/ Pullover Crunch
• Low-medium incline, Cables

Be sure to check out the video demonstration to see how these ‘oldies but goodies’ are performed on your Total Gym.


Reflecting on ‘The Fitness Past’ we see how the exercise seeds were planted to grow, evolve, and inspire change within health and fitness. It’s a reflection of what we know, what has worked best, and what needed improvement.

The Ghost of Christmas Past helped Scrooge reflect and remember the choices he made to build a better future. We too must learn from the past by seeing what worked, what was a fad, and what’s been tried and true to this day. One of the most revolutionary pieces of equipment that have remained so very relevant over the years is the Total Gym. It’s like a fine wine- it keeps improving over time while maintaining its original integrity to perform the most ‘classic moves’.

Stay tuned for part two, as we continue to see how and where fitness is in our current world.

In the spirit of the season, love and joy to you.


Maria Sollon

Maria Sollon Scally MS, CSCS holds a Master’s Degree in Performance Enhancement/Injury Prevention and Kinesiology. She has obtained numerous certifications in various areas of fitness and is a national conference presenter. Maria specializes in Pilates, Performance Coaching, and Corrective Exercise Techniques and Kettlebells. She is the creator of the Plyo Pilates Method and has developed a series of amazing workout DVDs. She is a Master Trainer for Total Gym, Resist-a-Ball, Body Blade, Peak Pilates, Kettle Bell Concepts and is a freelance writer for Fitness accredited magazines, newsletters, and fitness blog sites. Maria demonstrates her knowledge each day and uses her dynamic creativity throughout her specialized line of work. (purchasable workout videos) (workout clips)

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