Like every kid in high school, I was forced to fulfill a gym requirement. At George Washington High School, we had the option of taking aerobics -- which I secretly loved, because I dreamed of one day making my own instructional workout videos. Each day our weird instructor -- who had been at the school so long he also taught my mom in the '70s -- would pull a television bolted to a rolling cart to the front of the room and pop in a video cassette. Sometimes it was a Kathy Ireland abs segment
; other times it was a square-dancing tutorial. And then our teacher would sit at the back of the room and read a magazine -- which was also what he did when we ran the track behind the school, so engulfed in his copy of Outside
that he never saw me smoking cigarettes instead of running. To this day, I hate running.
But I still love to work out, and a piece I wrote recently about my experience with the increasingly popular 20th Street Gym's boxing fitness classes got me thinking about health-related trends in the modern age. It's silly to think that exercises go in and out of style, considering that they all should operate with the universal and timeless goal of getting you healthy. But still, there have been plenty of fitness fads.
In honor of these, I've compiled a list of some of my favorite videos, machines and people who have been a part of the modern workout industry -- and as a bonus, it includes ten activities you can do at home, alone, without anyone seeing you. You may also find great joy in scouring thrift stores in search of these sorta-ancient, health-minded cultural artifacts -- or just cruise YouTube and eBay, and they can be yours.
See also: What type of Wash Park fitness weirdo are you?