The shape of things gone by
Oscar-winning actress Jane Fonda launched the aerobics craze in the ’80s with three home exercise videos, starting with Jane Fonda’s Workout in 1982. These were insanely popular and sold more than 17 million copies. Stats are not available for how many of the people who bought the videos actually watched and followed them regularly, but there was a corresponding rise in the sales of leg warmers and leotards. The aerobics movement had followers panting and puffing well into the ’90s. “Namby-pamby little routines that don’t speed up your heartbeat and make you sweat aren’t worth your while,” said Fonda. Fitness-focused films starring shapely stars such as Olivia Newton-John and Jamie Lee Curtis in tights and headbands helped keep it alive, but, like all fads, it eventually died down.
In the past few years, however, the odd gym has offered semi-ironic “retrocise” classes, so maybe there’s life in the leotard yet. The app called Reset, available in the US by prescription only, claims to help patients manage various substance addictions by teaching cognitive behavioural coping skills. But is there an app to combat addiction to apps? Male athletes competed naked in front of some 40 000 spectators at the original Olympic Games in ancient Greece, so perhaps we can blame them for our six-pack aspirations. Then again, feasting and friendship were a big part of the sporting festival, so it wasn’t all games and no play.
A Roman copy of ancient Greek sculptor Myron’s statue ‘Discobolus’ (‘The Discus Thrower’). Myron’s original bronze has been lost. An early replica lost its head and later copies show the discus thrower facing in different directions.