• 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4

Exercise in the 1980s

So once exercise became fashionable, the deconditioned and overweight Clients simply stopped attending. By the early 80’s most Health Clubs were catering almost exclusively for super fit bodies, aerobic classes really came in to there own with all manner of new innovations such at step classes etc producing a whole new type of clientele.

During the mid 70’s and early 80’s, Leisure & Sports Centres were opened in many towns by local authority leisure services. It might be thought that these would naturally provide the sedentary population at large with a facility to take the place of the private health clubs. Sadly this was not to be. Leisure Centres merely competed with the Health Clubs to provide even more facilities for the exercise conscious minority. Most of them focused on swimming and sports halls, neither of which was ever likely to motivate the seriously deconditioned population to exercise regularly.

Those early Leisure Centres that did provide Gyms, filled them with heavy equipment that was of interest only to body builders and fitness enthusiasts. Once again, the sedentary population felt excluded. Even when the Leisure Centres finally recognised a need to update their Gymnasiums by removing heavy weight training equipment and moving ‘upmarket’, they again saw their role as competing with private clubs for the fitness enthusiasts.

Throughout the 80’s there were few facilities aimed solely at the deconditioned market. Of course some private health clubs aimed for this niche sector and did very well. The majority of Gyms however, hoped (greedily) to attract both the conditioned and the deconditioned market, but usually ended up catering for the 18-35 lycra clad, trendy, fitness group. Rarely, if ever, has it been possible to mix the two successfully.

By the mid to late 80’s the deconditioned population were, incredibly, less well catered for than they had been twenty-five years earlier. Their Gyms had been hijacked and they were left with no place to go. Slimming clubs had prospered because of this (Weight Watchers, etc.), but Dieting was starting to get a bad press and most people recognised the need to exercise more (and to eat better). Clearly there was an urgent requirement for an exercise facility that was welcoming and non intimidating to the majority of the population that were still (increasingly) deconditioned.

The mid 80’s the first very basic Toning Tables arrived in the UK. They had already proved a big success in the USA, where a similar exclusion of the deconditioned population had taken place during the early 80’s. Within three years, more than 1,200 Toning Table Centres were opened throughout the UK, and at last, the deconditioned population had somewhere to exercise - a place where they felt comfortable and, more importantly, welcome.