Has it seriously been 30 years since I took on my first client as a personal trainer in the 1980s? During that time, I’ve seen the fitness trends and many diet and exercise fads have come and gone. Many of the most notable, memorable wellness fads that have come and gone (and in some cases, come and stayed!).

Memorable Fitness Trends Over the Years

1. You didn’t have many gym options. Your three choices back in the ‘80s was either racquet ball, the YMC or a hole-in-the-wall bodybuilder gym.

2. Strength training was thought to be only for powerlifters and bodybuilders. In fact, if you walked into a gym, you were either going to bodybuild or do aerobics (at least as far as the front desk staff was concerned).

3. Nautilus machines. Who didn’t love those clunky old blue machines! Don’t forget to fasten the seat belt!

4. Aerobics. Do you remember Jane Fonda’s leg warmers, anyone? Oh, I could go on and on. If you worked out back them, I bet you can hear the music bumping right now!

5. The Atkins Diet that told us carbs are the enemy! Or was it Mike Myers who said that? If you don’t get it, you’re too young.

6. Infomercials. Trust me, TV fitness personality Tony Little made millions!

7. Suzanne Somer’s Thigh Master. Check it out, it was big in the ‘80s and it is still for sale!

8. Personal training. It slowly became something that wasn’t reserved just for celebrities anymore. Over the past few years, certifying agencies have multiplied exponentially. Six hours and $200 later and you’re magically a trainer! Go hurt ‘em!

9. Parisi Speed School and similar organizations started to appear, which began the trend of outsourcing conditioning for school sports.

10. LesMills’ BodyPump. Disregard form and just move that weight!

11. HIT (high intensity training) gained momentum.

12. Interval training for the masses. It’s big now, but it took a long time to catch on.

13. Insane technology that tracks everything about your fitness. Back in my day, I used to track my food, sleep and exercise in a spiral notebook. It worked just fine and still works, but it doesn’t get as much attention as fancy apps today.

14. P90X, T23, R2D2 (whoops). Boy, if that didn’t become pervasive! Bottle up some exercises in a nifty sequence, put a name on it, copyright it and make millions. Boom!

15. Boot camps. Let’s use public parks for free to do calisthenics as a group!

16. Evolved boot camp. Let’s rent a warehouse, run fifty classes a week, contract clients and make as much money as we can!

17. Large-scale group strength training (e.g., CrossFit). See “evolved boot camp” above. It’s the same thing, but cult-like participation is a requirement.

18. Refined sales techniques. Trust me, the sales techniques for selling fitness have come a long way! Buyer beware, especially with low barrier offers!

19. Web-based tracking systems. It’s tracking technology on steroids. Farm out your data so Amazon can market a treadmill to you instead of a candy bar!

Finally, and more importantly, what underlying factor have I seen over the decades that has truly helped my clients as fitness trends have come and gone?

It all comes down to commitment and hard work. That’s what really matters, no matter what decade you’re exercising in.

Fitness Trends From the Past 30 Years: A Personal Reflection

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