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Keeping fit is way more fun than it used to be

The next time you’re huffing and puffing your way through a tough gym workout, gradually losing the will to live with each burpee, remind yourself that it could be a lot worse.

A hundred years ago women who wanted to keep fit may have had it easier but boy was it dull. In the 1910s most exercise routines consisted only of stretches. Presumably the ankle-length dresses stopped them doing anything more strenuous. Can you imagine?

Fast forward 20 years or so and things were getting slightly more energetic. The Women’s League of Health and Beauty, founded by Mary Bagot Stack, combined hard work with good fun in a coordinated group class, with movements such as leg lifts, star jumps and toe-touching. However as the uniform of choice was made of satin we’re guessing not much sweat was broken.

More: The go-to post-workout stretching routine you shouldn’t skip

It wasn’t until the 1970s that women’s fitness really stepped up a gear. Jazzercise, a combination of jazz dancing and aerobics pioneered by former Broadway star Judi Sheppard Missett, took the world by storm and introduced the leotard to the average woman. Then came the 1980s, the decade of aerobics, complete with neon leotards, massive hair, sweat bands, leg warmers and, of course, Jane Fonda.

Since then we’ve had Tae Bo, kickboxing, Street Dance, Zumba and hybrids and variations of every possible keep fit style. Changed days indeed from when touching your toes from a sitting position formed the basis of your workout. Here’s a recap: 

Video credit: benenden health/YouTube

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