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Aerobic Training at Health Clubs

As soon as Jim Fixx's pioneering book Aerobics was published back in 1977, group cardiovascular workouts became very popular, a phenomenon which has continued to this day. Keep reading to learn a little more about the history of group aerobics and its evolution from the seventies until the present.

Workout at Home!

What really kicked off the popularity of aerobics was probably Jane Fonda's series of hit workout videos. Ms. Fonda was the star of long form TV ads which were the forerunner of what we now term infomercials. She led a class of women exercising to music, with the message of the ad being that you could get in shape with Jane Fonda by getting her workout videos and exercising along with them in front of your own TV without having to leave your home. Buyers got the benefit of a group environment, without the inconvenience of actually attending a class. Believe it or not, Jane Fonda's workout videos still hold records for video sales.

Health clubs quickly caught on to the potential of this trend and began offering aerobics classes modeled in part on Jane Fonda's videos, aimed largely at women. The format of the classes was similar to workout videos: an instructor in enviable physical condition leads the class in cardiovascular exercise set to music. Actually, there was more to the trend than the classes alone - gyms began calling themselves health clubs and spas and giving themselves a makeover to be more female-friendly, adding carpet and plants to soften their image.

This was also about the time that stationary bikes became popular and started showing up in health clubs. Lifecycle was the leading brand of stationary bike at the time and offered most of the features that you see in stationary cycles today, such as timed workouts and programmability. Elliptical machines and rowing machines came next, but many people found that these machines lacked the motivational environment of aerobics classes. Soon, classes using these machines came along, with all of the music, lights and leg warmers people had come to expect from workout videos.


"Aerobics"compared to "Cardio"

All good things must come to an end. Eventually, aerobics enthusiasts found that their vigorous workouts were simply placing too much strain on their joints. In response, trainers developed low impact aerobics. This milder version of aerobics began to replace its predecessor and, along with it, health clubs started offering yoga and day care to appeal to their older clients. By the time 1990 rolled around, aerobics had almost disappeared, supplanted by newer generations of elliptical machines and treadmills, among other workout options.

Aerobics weren't quite gone yet though, as many clubs offered members choices that included aerobics, step aerobics, and yoga, along with a rebranded version of stationary bike classes, later termed spin classes. Clubs are also now trying to compete for the attention of health minded consumers who buy their own home treadmills and elliptical machines, now that this equipment has become affordable for the average consumer.



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