Thursday, June 20, 2013

That's So 70s: Let's Get Into Physical!

"Hey Grandpa, back in the early 70s, did you and Grandma do all those crazy aerobic tapes?"

"Dear child, no, no.  Jane Fonda's tapes didn't come out until the 80s, besides we didn't even have VCRs back in the 70s."

"What's a V-C-R, Grandpa?"

"Uh, never mind, I'll explain that later.  Anyway, the Mad Men days of the 60s with their 3 martini lunches and offices filled with tobacco smoke were giving way to a more health conscious America.  Dr Cooper's book Aerobics had just come out, and Americans were interested in shedding the pounds to look good in the discotheques!"

"Uh, What's a disc-o-tech, Grandpa - some kind of cool computer game?"

"Oh boy, kid, did YOUR generation miss out on some living!"

"Grandpa, I bet like everything else in the 70s, the fashions for exercise wear were CRAZY too."

"Well child, actually no.  People were still new to the whole idea of exercise to get in shape, so they were doing that mostly at home.  The fashions were actually fairly lame."

"Mostly exercise fashions were taken from the world of dance, so they consisted of plain leotards.  It wasn't until the Flashdance craze of the 80s that exercise fashions really started to take off..  Like I said, the average person was just beginning to warm to the idea of exercise to get in shape.  Prior to that the only people that 'worked out' were athletes."

"Exercise in the early 70s still emphasized gentle, stretching moves and the fashions reflected that.  Of course people were trying to amp up their workouts.  After all, they had to get their Aerobic points (1) in each week."

"Naturally, people turned to their Big Book catalogs to supply them with groovy (and obviously well made!) stationary bicycles!"  "They even came with illustrations on how they simulated rowing a boat or riding a horse!"

"Grandpa, what's a catalog?"

"Kid, you're really getting on my nerves."  "One of the things that really took off in the 70s was jogging.  Before Aerobics, the idea of running just to run might land one in a mental institution.  I still remember when my dad took off running around the neighborhood one day (in tennis shoes and black socks no less).  We thought he had lost his mind!"

"Even for running, the fashions of the 70s were basic - plain warm up suits without any company logos on them."  "However, just like today, people were looking for shortcuts to get in shape and the Big Books willingly offered them."

"I remember they sold these bumpy roller things that looked uncomfortable as heck.  Also they really pushed these belt machines where you would just stand there while the inches melted away."

"Grandpa, did they work?"

"Yeah, sure, they worked great for Sears and JCP.   They made a ton of money off of them!"  One could even buy a home sauna!"

"Now child, I must add that not all health products offered in the Big Book catalogs were sane.  Some of them were wrong, just so wrong..."

"Just so wrong, wrong, wrong......"

footnotes: (Yes even for exercise, we have them footnotes!)

(1)  For those of you that may have forgot, Dr Cooper's book "Aerobics" prescribed a minimum number of "points" that a person had to get each week to be considered "in shape".  As I recall from memory, for a guy, it was the equivalent of running 2 miles at a 8 minute a mile pace, three times a week.  Of course for other activities such as cycling, etc. the numbers were different.  The numbers faded from view, but the term "Aerobics" stuck like glue - dance aerobics, step aerobics, water aerobics, and on, an on....


  1. LOL!! Leotards!!! Even the name is hilarious! I have had younger humans looks at me like I have grown a second head when I say something about a jogging suit. I believe the correct term now is "sweats" For the record, I may or may not know whether that bust developer works!

    1. Who is this guy Leo and why are leotards named after him?!? What is so interesting about the pic of the jogging suits is the complete lack of logos on them - just plain jane suits. As far as the "Mark Eden" (and who is that guy?) device - you can be forgiven. At worst they were harmless. I can't say the same for what they sold men back then who had physical insecurities - those devices were truly terrifying to behold!