Exercise for History Lovers


Exercise for History Lovers 

By Teresa Carstensen

We will let you in on a little secret.  The staff at the Ohio History Center have a Wednesday Walk club. That gives us an excuse to take a break and stroll around our beloved Ohio Village in nice weather. When the weather is less pleasant, we saunter around the museum floor. Not only is it good for our health, it’s a fun way to get to know our colleagues from other departments and to appreciate the history that we work so hard to preserve.
 

physical-education-class-(1).jpgW.P.A physical education class. Toledo, Ohio, circa 1935-1940.

Now that our group constitutional has been put on hold for a while, we have had to go the internet route. Once a week, we post one or two short workout videos to the staff email. Being history lovers, well, you can probably guess what kind of workouts we do. That’s right – historical ones! Check out some of our workouts below and try them at home! 
 
A frequent visitor to our Wednesday workouts is Jack LaLanne, “The Godfather of Modern Fitness.”  Many 1950s housewives spent part of their morning getting fit with Jack. His “trimnastics” program was a mix of enthusiasm, health tips, short bursts of calisthenics, and organ music.  You can watch a clip from his show by clicking here.    
 
The popular style of workouts hadn’t changed much by the time that The Debbie Drake Show started airing in 1961. Like The Jack LaLanne Show, The Debbie Drake Show was intended for a female audience and featured fairly gentle calisthenics. Click here to check out an episode and try her calf-toning duck walk. 

 physical-culture-exercises.jpgPatients participating in physical culture exercises, Columbus State Hospital, circa 1911-1915.

Exercise for the sake of exercise got a new twist in 1969 when Judi Sheppard Missett introduced Jazzercise. Jazzercise, which used dance movements, was peppier and more aerobic than the calisthenic workouts that had previously been in vogue. This led to aerobic exercise becoming all the rage. One of our favorites in that category is the ever-buoyant Richard Simmons. Best known for his Sweating to the Oldies workouts, his infectious cheerfulness got a lot of people up and moving in the 1980s and beyond. Did someone say “oldies”? What a perfect fit for history lovers! You can sweat along with us by clicking here
 
The United Kingdom had their own secret weapon in aerobic exercise. A Scottish acquaintance introduced us to Mr. Motivator. He is just as chipper as Judi and Richard but with an accent. Click here to see a workout of his from 1994. 
 
Do you have a favorite exercise show from decades gone by? Please tell us about it in the comments section below!

Do you have a story to share? Right now, our team is documenting how Ohioans are experiencing today’s historic pandemic. As Ohio’s public history organization, the stories you share with us will help us understand the day-to-day impacts of COVID-19.
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Posted May 11, 2020
Topics: All Topics

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