get fit

20 vintage men’s fitness ads that will make you want to renew your gym membership

Sweaty, chiseled bodies in constant motion. Labored breathing. Flexed muscles. Men’s fitness programs have evolved over the centuries, demonstrating societal changes and advancements in exercise science.

In ancient Greece, physical fitness was an essential part of education. Gymnasiums served as intellectual and physical training centers, where men got buff in the buff.

The 19th century saw the rise of physical education, which focused on structured exercises. Influenced by German and Swedish gymnastics, you jocks can thank both sides of the Baltic Strait for your favorite high school class. This period also saw the rise of strongman competitions and circus performances, where men in leopard print singlets would showcase their strength and bulges.

The early 20th century introduced more organized fitness programs inspired by military training. Places like the YMCA were crucial in promoting physical fitness among men, providing a place to play organized sports and have towel-whipping fights. I’ve also heard it’s fun to stay at the YMCA.

Post-World War II, the focus shifted towards bodybuilding, popularized by figures like Charles Atlas and later that guy who played the Terminator. The 1980s fitness boom brought aerobics (hey, Richard Simmons!), unitards, and home workout videos into the mainstream. Buttmaster anyone?

In recent decades, men’s fitness has dramatically changed, becoming more diverse and accessible. Technology has revolutionized fitness by introducing online programs, wearable technology, and personalized training apps. And the interwebs have made fitness more available, showing a growing understanding of the importance of holistic health and well-being. Now everyone… step… and step… and one… and two… and three… and four!

Get peeping on some pectorals and check out these vintage fitness ads…

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  • WendellE

    I remember several of these, especially the Bullworker one.

  • Donald Dork

    They forgot the SOLOFLEX guy

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