Canadian fitness trends over the decades, from kickass to cringeworthy
Do you have an Adomenizer at the back of your closet? Or participation badge?
If we Canadians aren't prepping for beach season, then we're trying to shake off those holiday pounds. Sometimes literally. And while we're not alone in embracing the latest fitness trends, as the video above shows we've had our own occasionally unique relationship to the get-fit industry, ranging from the kick-ass to the cringeworthy. Below, five highlights.
When the Royal Canadian Air Force commissioned an exercise program for its crew that could be used anywhere (say, remote Canadian Air Force Bases), it probably didn't expect the program to go global. But that's just what happened. The resulting pamphlets 5BX (5 Basic eXercises) and XBX (Ten Basic Exercises, the women's version) sold 23 million copies, were translated into 13 languages and made fans of Prince Philip and Dame Helen Mirren.
Canada Fitness Awards Program: 1970–1992
If you remember the shame of only getting a participation badge and never even a bronze, then you might have been in elementary school in Canada between 1970 and 1992. Once a year, the weak were culled by dashes, endurance runs, push-ups (which replaced the torture of the flexed arm hang), sit-ups/curl-ups, the standing long jump and the shuttle run.
Warning: Seeing these badges may trigger PTSD.
ParticipACTION: 1971–2001 and 2007–present
Starting in 1971, the non-profit organization urged us all to get fit with a long-running series of PSAs (including some from BodyBreak, below). ParticipACTION tried to motivate Canadians in many ways but was never more successful than with its first ad.
Being compared to Scandinavians twice our age did a lot to get Canadians off the couch and kick-started a national discussion on health and fitness. Although it was shut down in 2001, the program was revived with a grant from the federal government in 2007.
This Canadian-invented product promised to target the abs and support the back at the same time, delivering "amazing" results. A memorably cheesy infomercial helped the creation of Dr. Dennis Colonello ship about 6 million units. But the fact that you would actually have to do something aerobic to see real results turned the two-by-three-foot sheet of plastic into an under-the-bed dust-collector for many Canadians.
Body Break: 1988-Present
Hal Johnson and Joanne McLeod were actual high-performance athletes (he played baseball for the University of Colorado and team Canada at the World Baseball Championships; she was a top-ranked Canadian hurdler in the Commonwealth Games) before they became the peppy, good-natured guides to fun, fitness and moustache maintenance. Hal and Joanne — and yes, they are a couple — never failed to give you the top tips to fitness... and some awesome stuntwork:
What's your favourite fitness memory? Tell us in the comments below!