Guest Post: The History of Physical Fitness


Society often makes certain demands on the level of physical strength of its members. This is especially the case in times of primitive communal systems. Yet even then, even in ‘pre-modern’ societies, there were peculiar principles of physical education, because a person’s life was largely dependent on their physical qualities.

Today, fitness is still of paramount importance to health and well-being. With that in mind, the following post details a brief history of physical fitness.

Ancient Greek Bodybuilding

The Greeks’ view of physical exercises importance is expressed in the words of Aristotle: “Nothing so much depletes and destroys a person, like prolonged physical inaction.

The ancient Greeks taught us many things: democracy, philosophy, and perhaps the most important foundations for bodybuilding. Symmetry was the basis of beauty for the ancient Greeks. Ancient Greek bodybuilding is reflected in the art paintings and in Hellenic sculptures, which testify to the ideal physique of the Olympians of that time.

The young Greeks not only practiced strength exercises with dumbbells, raised and transferred stones from place to place of different weights, but sometimes they even carried a live calf on their shoulders.

In addition, the training system included exercises with a ball, hoop, javelin and disc throwing, long jumps.

Also, the various types of martial arts were of great importance. Particular attention was paid to such training in Sparta when teaching boys the art of being a real warrior.


History of Personal Training

The history of personal training can be traced until 776 B.C. when ancient Greeks prepared to Olympic Games. Usually, it was the people of religious or military value.

Fitness and personal training made significant progress in the 1900s. Due to the television show fitness started to set up popularity.

It is believed that the first fitness expert and personal trainer was Jack LaLanne. He stimulated people to exercise and live a healthy lifestyle as prophylactic medicine.

In turn, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of personal training jobs in the United States is stated to grow about 10 percent until 2026, and it will be about 330,000 jobs.


Who Invented Physical Education?

The most ancient mentions of physical education relate to around 2,500 B.C. in different regions. The main of them was Greece where both the Olympics and the gymnasiums were invented.

In China, where ideas of Confucius flourished, exercises were developed, known as Kung Fu, Tai Chi, Chi Kung and other names. The Chinese believed that physical exercise would prolong their lives, and possibly give immortality.

In ancient India, they sought unity with the higher being through meditation. Later Hatha Yoga was used. Today, these exercises are a very popular form of fitness all over the world.

So, it is difficult to say for sure who invented physical education. But it can safely be said that physical culture originated and developed at the same time as human culture.


History of Fitness Centers

Fitness centers are extremely popular all over the world. The results of the study show that the impeding aspects, such as life stress and barriers, are most powerful in the process of maintaining physical activity. Today, sports centers are very common. However, modern fitness facilities are a relatively recent phenomenon.

In Ancient Persia, Zurkhanehs were organized (actually translated as “houses of power”). In fact, these were sports halls where future warriors were trained.

As in Persia, the ancient Greeks also had sports halls, which were called gymnasiums. Here people were preparing for battles and games such as the Olympics.

From the time more and more people began to be interested in fitness and health. In the second half of the 19th century, many gyms were founded, where the first fitness equipment was installed.

So, we can conclude that the history of fitness centers began in antiquity and gradually transformed into modern gyms, which we have now.


Evolution of Fitness

The evolution of fitness over a hundred years:


  • 1900-1920s


The main emphasis was on stretching. Then the progenitors of modern fitness equipment began to appear: stationary bicycles, rowing machines, and vibrating belts. The women practiced on the simulators in the dresses and heels.


  • 1930-1940s


During this period, the physical exercises tried to perform without auxiliary items. Curling, swings, and “scissors” were popular.


  • 1950s-1960s


The main person of these years was Jack Lalanne – fitness guru. All US housewives were engaged in his system, which included jumping, marching on the spot, lifting legs, etc.


  • 1970-1980


The women, dressed in colorful leggings and headbands, tried to keep up with the charismatic Jane Fonda and Heather Locklear, who showed from the screen how to properly perform basic movements of the step aerobics.


  • 1990-2000s


In the 90s was a popular simulator ThighMaster, which was designed to “lift” the internal and external surfaces of the thighs. But in the 2000s the martial arts with dance elements of Tae Bo became fashionable.


  • The 2010s


Group training under the leadership of Coach is very popular. Everyone just goes crazy with the training sessions of Tracy Anderson.

Today, physical culture is an important means of educating a new person, harmoniously combining spiritual wealth, moral purity, and physical perfection.

Author Bio

Helen Rogers is an editor of She helps people get stronger. She shares running and sports questions, beauty tips. All her stories are result-oriented and make her readers become healthy, wealthy and wise.

4 thoughts on “Guest Post: The History of Physical Fitness

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  1. Thx for sharing.Great
    I planned to go China, but suspended by the coronavirus, so can only learn Chinese at home and took the live online lesson by communicating with native-Chinese teachers from eChineseLearning
    It seems good currently. Do you think this method of learning is realistic?

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