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Fitness- A Brief Review of Exercise in the United States

Fitness in the United States has greatly evolved over the centuries. Following is a very brief historical review:

Colonial Times

In the colonial period which is from 1700-1776, there was no need for the fitness centers and exercise classes that are offered in our present day world. The lifestyle during this time was filled with physical activity based on day to day survival. Plowing the land to grow crops, herding cattle, hunting and maintaining a household provided plenty of body movement to meet the sufficient needs of having a healthy and fit physique.

National Period

From the years 1776-1860, the United States entered what was called the National Period. European immigrants introduced gymnastics and early political leaders recommended daily physical activity such as swimming and running. However, fitness was seen as recreational.

The Industrial Revolution

The Post Civil War era between 1865-1900 introduced the use of machines to advance industrial and mechanical technologies. In other words, human labor decreased, leading americans to require less physical movement. This introduced physical ailments that had not been much of an issue before, such as Type 2 Diabetes, certain Cancers and cardiovascular diseases.

World War I and II

In 1917, the United States joined its forces into World War I. This called for military personnel to "get fit" and train for combat and battle. The trend continued with World War II in 1941. Many of our fitness wear today is inspired by what our soldiers wore in training such as camouflage pants.


The 1950's led Americans into a lifestyle where many jobs required sitting down and automobiles replaced most of the walking. This created a "need" to develop ways to motivate citizens to move their bodies in different ways to keep themselves healthy.

For More Info About Workout Clothing

The Jack Lalanne Show was one of the first television shows that taught Americans how to exercise from the comfort of their own homes. Other personalities followed in later years, such as Jane Fonda and Richard Simmons. Workout clothes became popular and schools became serious about teaching Physical Education to children and teens.

1960's To Present Day

Early gym chains were founded during this period, including Golds Gym which opened in 1965. In the 1980's, large Corporations began to offer on campus Fitness Centers for their employees. By the time the 1990's arrived, wide spread use of gym centers had become "normal" and exercise became an "expectation" and a highly suggested requirement for all Americans to engage in. Today, there are countless centers and classes for all to choose from.


In regards to present day fashion, the fitness world has created a craze of certain items such as gym tank tops and yoga pants that are worn as casual wear by many people on a daily basis, whether they attend a gym or not.


What started out as a means of daily survival for physical health and exercise has now evolved into a necessity to balance a sedentary lifestyle. Who knows what the future may hold in regards to Fitness!