For a while, fitness was all about health. All the writings from the early days of Physical Culture pay tribute not just to the prodigious amounts John Grimek and Abbye Stockton could lift, but to their glowing skin, radiant spirits, and general exuberance of health.
Then, in the 60s and 70s, fitness became all about pushing the envelope. More miles are better, said Dr. Kenneth Cooper. 2 hours in the gym lifting weights (for one bodypart!) became the norm, then twice a day workouts. If 30 sets for chest was good, then 60 must be twice as good, right?
Next, the pendulum swung the other way. Exercise became all about how fast you could get in and out of the gym. We had fartlek training, Spinning, and wind sprints. Mike Mentzer preached the efficacy of doing only three sets total (total, for your whole body ) per workout. Did I mention you were only supposed to work out once every two weeks?
The trend is now swinging back towards Olde-Tyme methods of building your body: Kettlebells, sandbags, keg lifting, bodyweight workouts (to put this in perspective for non-fitness industry types, it would be as if all the contractors in the world threw out their nail guns and mechanical screwdrivers and went back to using hammers and hand-held screwdrivers). Luckily, the emphasis is back on health.
If you ask me, exercise for health’s sake never went out of style. The methods may change, but what we wanted was always the same - the look, feel, and expression of vibrant health.
(I’m a notoriously poor soothsayer (my UFC picks always lose) and not all that great of a pundit. So you’ll have to go with my knowledge and experience on this one.)