Lifestyle Mindset

Fitness Trends That Define Decades

Written by shapeshifter

Can you believe another decade is about to expire? It seems like only yesterday we were ushering in the new millennium. But as I reflect on how my philosophy of health and fitness has evolved since then, ten years becomes an eternity.

In that time, I discovered Circular Strength Training® and embraced a whole new paradigm of what it means to be fit. In truth, CST isn’t new. It’s a journey “back to the future”.

There are generations of fitness wisdom locked in diverse physical cultures across the planet and through the ages. CST excavates those universal truths and digests them using the very best modern sport science has to offer. The result is a truly functional system of health and fitness.

In essence, it’s a ward against trends and fitness fashions. Everything is boiled down to it’s essence. And that essence can be applied to any specific methods, tools or goals. CST is the proverbial grain of salt that can be thrown on the myriad of over exuberant tangents the fitness industry enjoys.

And with that in mind, I thought it would be fun to reminisce on some of those trends. As I started my own reflection, I realized that each decade was defined by some distinctive fitness fashion.

In the 80s, I was immersed in the Muscle & Fitness magazine culture (insert embarrassed smile). The 90s conjured up memories of my wife doing Step Reebok workouts in our living room. Of course, the past decade is imbued with the “functional fitness” refrain.

But I realized: that’s just ME. I bet you have a totally different and equally amusing perspective. And I hope you’ll tell us about it.

What did your fitness journey look like across the decades? What jumps out at you as you let your thoughts wander across the past? Please share your stories in the comments below.

We’re looking forward to a great walk down memory lane!

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  • Could go back as far as the vibration machine with the belt around the waist to “burn the fat”. Then the rope and pulley set over the door to allow arm and leg pulls. Also remember the home made bench made from 2×4’s to build my chest, was probably in middle school. Worked fine until I laid down and grabbed the barbell, ended up on the floor and rolled the bar off my chest as the bench collapsed. (I told my parents they needed to buy me a bench, and see what happened). Also bought the charles atlas books sold from the back of magazines, drooled over Arnold in muscle and fitness and so on. Man this going back hurts but at least I never bought a thigh master or ab roller…some things just take it too far. Now after too many months of paying for the gym memberships and completing P90X, I’m on to bodyweight training and working out at home where the time is saved, workouts are much better and looking forward to 2010. Might try a clubbell workout next year(outside so not to break some ceiling lights). Happy 2010 to each of you and thanks for your dedicated work.

  • When I was around 12 or so, can’t really remember now, my mother had that rope and pulley system that you hooked around a doorknob. Took me all of 30 seconds trying the thing to realize it was useless. In the mid-70’s it was Karate. Around the late 80s or early 90s it was Taekwondo. I’ve only really gotten into other things since I came to Korea in 96. Since moving here, and more specifically within the last 9 or 10 years I’ve done Tae Bo. Love it. Still do it when can’t get to the gym. Had a version of an ab roller for about a month. Turbulence Training and 7 Minute Muscle + a 20 minute HIT running program round out my experience. Oh, I also prefer resistance bands/tubes to free weights. Not the Walmart version. I have a good set from Bodylastics. More resistance than I can handle. Been using the free BER workout for the last 3 weeks. Bought the book on the 26th – Christmas gift from my wife. Will be starting that on Monday I hope.

  • I bought my first copy of Muscle & Fitness back in 1995. I was 15 at the time, and arm-wrestling all day at school, so the title “Build bigger arms with Arnold” caught my eye. I started lifting weights at home, and three years later I graduated to Flex magazine and joined a gym.

    Not much have changed in these 15 years, at least in bodybuilding cycles. The norm was – and still is – weights plus cardio. One difference is that fitness was just in its beginning, while today it’s much more dominant. In that light, we have also seen many new movements, like bodyweight workouts, exercising in nature, and primitive training. Personally, I have realised the limitations of bodybuilding and have become more open-minded, by incorporating yoga and martial arts.

    Anyway, I am nowhere near where I want to be condition-wise, and I plan on continuing my fitness journey utilising every tool in my disposal, old and new!

  • I had a good giggle thinking back to when I started in the fitness field back in the early 80’s as an aerobic instructor. I remember actually wearing the leg warmers and teaching high impact classes in church basements with cement floors and getting such bad shin splints that I would be in tears trying to climb stairs. I moved onto personal training in the 90’s and now am big into Boot Camps with lots of body weight training.
    Thank goodness for continued learning and education in the field of health and fitness!!

    • I can relate!! I was an instructor in 1986, wearing black tights, white high top sneakers, leg warmers, etc. ’80s was def church basement aerobics, high impact all the way. Then ’90s step and slide and I remember teaching pilates and relaxation techniques. Early 2000’s- interval circuit training, and ball classes…now we have the rebirth of kettleballs. Yes, thank god for education.

  • I wasn’t much into fitness (by which I mean I was woefully out of shape) until I began training the martial arts in the late 1990s. One night, I lost a full contact sparring match and my sifu, who usually was encouraging, looked at me and said, “For god’s sake man, get into the gym and lose some of that flab. You lost due to conditioning, not inferior technical skill.”

    My first foray was fairly standard: all machines, all the time. All the so-called experts advocated long bouts of moderate cardio, so I did a lot on the Nordic track, finishing up with a few minutes on Nautilus machines. Needless to say, this only helped at the beginning: when you’re incredibly out of shape, ANY kind of exercise will do you good.

    The next trend? Spinning classes. Better, and certainly I have to admit that working out in a room full of fit, lycra-clad women did wonders for my motivation (and on one occasion, . But that kind of mass-media-advocated training didn’t work for competitive martial arts and combat sports. So that’s when I started looking for an alternative.

    Started out with the Matt Furey bodyweight stuff, which was good but his overhyped self promotion turned me off. So I moved onto Pavel and his Power to the People and kettlebells, then discovered the alternative kettlebell methods of Scott Sonnon and Steve Kotter. Today, my training alternates between kettlebell Tabatas, Prasara and Flowfit sessions, a lot of bodyweight stuff (from various sources), and–once in a while–time on a rowing machine. That seems to have worked out for me; never was I prouder of my training than during a BJJ session last year when a far superior partner was unable to submit me and eventually asked for a break because he was too tired to continue fighting my all-muscle-and-no-technique approach.

  • Well, I HAVE added some things (like indian clubs, Clubbells and kettlebells) but some Old Favorites have reemerged and been reintegrated. Back in the day it was jump rope, dumbbells, step and Heavy Hands and ALL of them have been re-added! Still trying to figure out where the BullWorker will fit in though!

  • I remember when I was about 7 or 8 sneaking into the spare bedroom at home and finding the Sears wish books. I would hold them in my hand and use them as weights for what I now know as one arm presses. In junior high I’d do 3 sets of 30 push ups every night with my feet propped up on my captain’s bed. I was always small and a little self-conscious about it so I started into weight training in high school. After high school I got “Combat Conditioning” and loved it. It’s really what got me into bodyweight training and “functional fitness” mindset because it fit right in with my martial arts training – I wanted to be the fastest but not necessarily the strongest. I learned a lot of great exercises, but man that dude that sells it is crazy!! (no names need be mentioned). I started hearing about Circular Strength Training at the start of the decade and have really enjoyed my journey so far into “health-first” fitness.

  • I had gills as a kid: started snorkeling at age 10, scuba certification at age 13, swam on the swim team in high school. Joined the Army to avoid the draft in 1971, attended deep sea diving school and was assigned to Okinawa where I continued to hone my snorkeling and scuba diving skills, snorkeled 4 days a week for two years, could hold my breath for 4 minutes and dive to 100 feet and did this for hours on end – ate a lot of fresh fish!

    I dabbled with judo thru my youth, got into it big time when I got out of the Army in the mid ‘70s, competed regionally and nationally. Started a judo club in 1980 and have been teaching/learning since. When I didn’t have a partner used bicycle inner tubes tied to a clothes line post to shadow practice… had to replace the 6” x 6” wood clothes line post – broke it one day when I was angry! Built a dojo over my garage in late 1980s – practiced 5 to 6 times a week.

    Have weights, nice bench, they pretty much gather dust; just cannot wrap my head around lifting weights.

    Now 61 years old, too many injuries to train hard at judo, but I never miss a practice and I always get some exercise.

  • First it was the playground: playing soccer in the backyard with the boys from the neighbourhood. This was until I was 14. At age 16 I dicovered Martial Arts. Bruce Lee movies! I joined the local karate school. In my town there was only Judo and Shotokan Karate. At the same time I read Kenneth Cooper’s “Aerobics” and started running for cardio. BWEs and boxing bag at home. PE in school which was boring. Long bike rides.
    When I started University I was reading books, writing papers and playing pool billard in the evening. Not much exercise. I was fat and deconditioned. Didn’t like it. Lost weight and started running agaim. Sometimes a bit soccer. I tried some martial arts classes but didn’t like the training methods very much . So I didn’t stick with it. Today I know why. 🙂
    I started dancing, my second passion besides martial arts. I loved it. I trained for ten years and started to give dance classes.

    I never was a member of these “fitness studios” with step aerobics, Nautilus machines and spinning. It looked ridiculous to me. I tried it a couple times out of curiosity because a friend of mine used to train there. I started MMA but stopped because of a herniated disc and tight muscles. This was 2005 I guess. While I was researching about “rehab for wounded warriors” in the world wide web I discovered the world of kettlebell, Pavel Tsatsouline, Steve Cotter, crossfit, and finally CST. I was fascinated. All of this was much better than anything I met before.
    I live in Germany and there are only traditional sports clubs and “fitness studios”. Hard to find good training if you don’t compete in a traditional sport.

    I spent hours, days, months searching through Dragon Door Forum, crossfit forum and RMax Forum. I studied the crossfit website, read Pavels books and Ross Enamait, – it all looked impressive and “everybody is an athlete” made complete sense to me. I started kettlebell lifting and interval sprints. Got KB DVDs from Mike Mahler (funny guy) and Steve Cotter. But man I have a lot to do to clean my slate and do rehab from adrenal fatigue – crossfit WODs would crush my body. That’s not for me. And from dancing I am all about quality over quantity and sophistication as tool for lifelong improvement. So the sophisticated training and health first principle of CST was the best thing I ever found for my rehab and performance goals. I’ll stick with that – using the principles for all my training. 🙂

    New steps in 2010: I will join the “Kettlebell Gang Berlin” (Steve Cotter style), take lessons from Coach Mohrdieck in Hamburg and get a pair of clubbells and the Prasara Yoga DVD. I already practice Intu Flow and did my first sessions in Ageless Mobility, Flow Fit, BER and Ryan’s “Beyond situps”. If I have cleaned the slate and improved my strength and GPP – which will take some time- I want to incorporate ringtraining, gymnastics, martial arts, a bit basic parkour, olympic weightlifting.

  • In the mid 70’s, it was grade school baseball, basketball and football. Early 80’s, high school football until i blew out my knee in my sophomore year. I started lifting at that time also. I got my first Olympic set at that time. Late 80’s, I tried my hand at Bodybuilding. even had my NPC card. That lasted until 1994, the I started American Kenpo Karate(Ed Parker’s Flavor). That lasted until 1997. The I got a sit down IT job….Pretty lazy until November 2006, when i decided to lose some weight. I have been training consistently ever since. I found KBs in june 2007 and made some CB late in 2008. I will be getting a set of 25s when they get back in stock. I bought The clubbell black book nd will start it when i have my 25s. I just want to say great work on that product to both Ryan and Adam.
    .-= Todd´s last blog -> 12.30.09 – Wednesday – density Cycle – Hammer swings.. Also back to the Warrior Diet =-.

  • In broad strokes….
    The 70’s were running and bicycling for me. In the 80’s I kept running; eventually completing 5K, 10K, 15K, 1/2 marathon and marathon races in a single year.
    The 80’s were martial arts with some eccentric strength training programs (John Allen’s Green Dragon ring a bell with anyone?) including ‘super-slow’ Nautilus machine work, ramping up to kickboxing and point-sparring.
    The 90’s were kali, ramping up to more general hand/stick/knife combatives that included Tom Cruse, the Dog Brothers and Hock as teacher/coaches.
    The 00’s started with Matt Furey, merged into Pavel, and culminated in training BJJ with Steve Maxwell, who also taught Joint Mobility, Warrior Wellness, kettlebells and some yoga. And Steve obviously has paved the way towards Scott Sonnon’s work.
    Coming into the new decade, I’m 51 years old. I’m stronger, more flexible and less injury prone (way less) than at any other time in my life. I’m a systems/principles kind of guy, and in CST(with 4×7, IntuFlow, FlowFit, Forward Pressure, Prasara and Reset) I’ve found a really rich toolbox for setting, training for and achieving my goals.
    In the coming decade, I know that I’ll be doing more with Clubbells, and more with MMA-specific 4×7 programs (even if I have to design them myself) and delving into Systema. And with Systema, the more I look at the training methods I just see CST stuff and Beyond Push-ups and breathing driven methods that I’ve already been introduced to through Scott, Adam, Ryan and RMAX.

    I wish everyone the best of the New Year!!!

  • I grew up in the 90s and I remember the residue of the aerobics movement in the 80s. Lots of women in overpriced fitness clothes sweating to cheesy music. We had a fitness club in middle school which was comprised of myself, a friend and two female teachers who sweated to those tapes twice a week. It lasted for about two weeks. 😛

    Then came track and cross country, neither of which I was good at doing-kind of akin to gym class.

    But it was dancing that really was the best for me, I started back up in middle school as an overweight young teenage girl and ended in mid-high school as a fit young woman. After that ended and my high school career ended I had quit exercising period and gained almost all that weight back even before I became pregnant with my daughter. After she was born I still did not exercise much. There were bouts of yoga but no practice ever came out of it, and I went back to ballet for a while but after the semester was over I quit again. It wasn’t until my then husband and I got a free membership at a local gym that I began to exercise more and then I became a gym rat despite the Turbulence Training I had signed up for and all the fitness and diet blogs I read. I lost a lot of weight because of it, although I had, what some people have charmingly labeled, “Skinny Fat Syndrome”. I was close to having a yoga routine down but I allowed the absence of a room with a firm floor to practice on to become an excuse.

    I have deteriorated since because I haven’t found a fitness program that works with me but thus far what I’ve seen of Bodyweight Blueprint I am liking and can actually do! I am also very excited about Prasara yoga and am gearing up to buy Scott Sonnon’s videos.

    Well, here’s to a new year of better health! (and less exercise equipment. I forgot I had bought a set of Perfect Pushups and used them maybe twice. 😛 )

  • I kicked of the decade by hanging out at the gym and using free weights for strength training. I stopped exercising completely when my schedule became too hectic. In the mid 2000s, I fell in love with marathon, but ended up on the treadmill after a year or so. Currently, I use the treadmill cardio and bodyweight training, which works perfectly for my current schedule.

  • Hi Adam and everyone,
    for over the last ten years my workouts consisted mainly of lifting free weights and running. It was that idea of the faster and stronger ideology that I stuck to. I got bored with doing the same kinds of exercises even then and didn’t think that the exercises that were more bodyweight based were effective. Nowadays I’ve become more open to new ways of training and keeping in tune with my body and mind and emotions, and am learning that all these things are part of one unit that work together.

    All the best wishes

  • Being youngish I cant go back all that far but I remeber being made to run with crazy amounts of weight on my back and strentching on one of them vibrating machines.

    To be fair I think both of thoes are good ways of training, adding weight to increase power of legs for sprinting and stretch on the vibrating machine as the vibrations loosen the muscles meaning you can increase your flexability (or strid if your doing it for running) quickly.
    .-= James´s last blog -> Rowing Machine Good For Fitness =-.

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