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Fitness craze sweeps the nation

The Story

"This obsessive passion with fitness and bodybuilding is becoming downright maniacal," says CBC reporter Dan Bjarnason in this lighthearted 1984 CBC-TV clip. Canadians are getting swept up in the fitness craze, sweating it out in aerobics classes and pumping iron in the weight room. Bjarnason questions the sanity of it all, as he asks one exhausted-looking man in the gym, "Karl, are you actually enjoying this?" Karl shrugs. "Not really, but you got to do it if you want to stay fit."

Medium: Television
Program: Saturday Report
Broadcast Date: Feb. 25, 1984
Guest(s): Pat McKenna, Karl Naumoff, Eliot Kerr
Host: Peter Mansbridge
Reporter: Dan Bjarnason
Duration: 2:07

Did You know?

• The North American fitness movement began in the 1970s, but really hit its full "craze" status in the 1980s. According to the Oxford Companion to United States History, "These years saw a great increase in cycling and jogging, exercising at health clubs, and even marathoning, which was sponsored by hundreds of cities. Entries in the New York City Marathon rose from 126 in 1972 to over 20,000 in the mid-1980s."

• The 1980s fitness craze also had a strong influence on North America's beauty and fashion ideals. A 1982 Time magazine article discussed this phenomenon: "With men and women flaunting tanned, exercised bodies, the fashion is sportswear: headbands, tank tops, jogging shorts and running shoes. In offices and at informal dinner parties, the high-casual look has become acceptable. Exercise togs appear in the windows of a Rodeo Drive boutique; and at night, on Sunset Strip, young prostitutes parade in gym shorts and leg warmers."



Getting Physical: Canada's Fitness Movement more