Guest Post: A Brief History of Fitness in Australia

Early Australian Sport

It would be a grave understatement to claim that the COVID pandemic inconvenienced our day-to-day lives. Rather, at times, it felt as if this global health crisis was a roller coaster with no ending in sight. With that said, it appears most of us have taken one important lesson out of the pandemic – our health is irreplaceable and, with that, non-negotiable. Thus, as the world cautiously opened back up, people began rethinking their meal plans, routines, and overall health. In short, the COVID pandemic brought with itself a kind of fitness craze that many would argue is only a passing trend. However, physical activity and fitness have been around for as long as mankind – it is not a phase or trend. To prove this point, the article before you will take a brief look at the history of fitness in Australia.

A (very) brief history lesson

Before tackling the Australian world of fitness, it’s pivotal to establish a solid footing, and that means going all the way back to the beginning (as much as historical evidence will allow). While this may surprise some, physical activity was highly coveted in primitive times, when most tribes were still composed of hunters and gatherers. There, it was not uncommon for members to take strenuous journeys in search of nourishment or even to visit neighbouring tribes. This tradition of physical activity and fitness continued to be cherished throughout centuries, only to receive a novel kind of status during ancient times. Possibly more so than any other known nation, Ancient Greece placed physical fitness and beauty in the highest regard. Namely, ancient Greeks viewed physical health as parallel to mental health. In other words, both needed to be on an exceptional level if an individual was to even come close to the god-like idea of Greek beauty. Even though physical fitness standards changed from Ancient Greece to the present day, the importance of physical activity never wavered. Now, jumping forward just a few centuries, it’s time to examine just what fitness looked like in Australia throughout history.

The (contemporary) fitness beginnings

Even as the notions of physical fitness shifted across space and time, Australia remained mostly in step with the views of the western world. While this article will not dwell on every decade in the history of Australian fitness, it will start with what could be said is the official beginning of fitness on the continent. Namely, in 1979, sports educator Nigel Champion began a Health Studio Attendants course in Perth, the first of its kind in Australia. A little over two decades later, the educator and fitness instructor merged his course with five others to form The Australian Institute of Fitness (AIF) – the largest and most renowned fitness training organisation in Australia. At present, AIF offers a number of training programs ranging from physical therapy training to courses designed to create well-equipped and knowledgeable trainers. However, the Institute still remains a place dedicated to sharing the love of fitness and getting more and more people into the gym. Thus, just like AIF, fitness lovers should never lose sight of the ultimate goal – creating a healthier community, not a healthier individual. Today, because of the pandemic, even small gestures like taking a rapid antigen test in Australia before walking into a gym can help maintain the community’s overall health.

Gymnastics – a sporting world before fitness

While the fitness frenzy took a hold of Australia in the second half of the 20th century, other sports were steadily developing for some time – an important one being gymnastics. As early as the 1840s, gymnastics was a part of the Australian community. The sport was even notable enough to attract advertisements in newspapers and reports in the daily papers. At the turn of the century, gymnastics became renowned enough for colleges, like the Melbourne (Teacher) Training College to offer courses that would certify teachers to become gymnastics instructors. Despite the two great wars, it seems that the Australians’ love of gymnastics never wavered, with groups like the YMCA offering gymnastics courses and training. Today, if you look closely, you’ll see that gymnastics has never been more present in Australia. More and more children are opting to try their luck in this sport with national and international results becoming more memorable each year. Thus, while more specific than overall fitness, gymnastics is undoubtedly a sport that has shaped the Australian fitness world and will continue to do so for years to come.

The present – where are we now?

While this article has examined some of the most notable moments in Australia’s fitness history, the question that is at the tip of everyone’s tongue is – where are we now?

In short, it would seem that we are in an ideal position – fitness has never been more readily available to the wider community and its importance has never been greater. Today, there is a fitness plan for just about everyone and it seems that all of us are adamant to seek it out and stick to it!

Author Bio

I’m a fitness and health blogger at, and a great fan of the gym and a healthy diet. I follow all the trends in fitness, gym and healthy life, and l love to share my knowledge in this field through useful and informative articles.

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