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When only 'zealots' went to the gym

In 1984, the "obsessive passion" some people felt for the gym had become "downright maniacal."

'You have to keep reminding yourself, getting there is half the fun'

When going to the gym was for 'zealots' only

Digital Archives

37 years ago
1:25
CBC reporter Dan Bjarnason visits a gym in 1984 to find out how people push themselves to work out. 1:25

Aerobics classes were filling up, weight machines were in high demand, and CBC reporter Dan Bjarnason wasn't shy about sharing his opinion of the trend.

"This obsessive passion with fitness and bodybuilding is becoming downright maniacal," he began, setting the tone for the report to come, which aired on Feb. 25, 1984.

Some were devoted...

Amid scenes of people bouncing to an aerobics class, and sweating as they lifted weights, Bjarnason said business at health clubs had never been more robust.

Aerobics instructor Pat McKenna looked every part the fitness believer of the 1980s. (The National/CBC Archives)

"The last three or four years, we have 10 or 15 per cent more people," aerobics instructor Pat McKenna told Bjarnason.

She was decked out in spandex workout wear and a headband, having just finished conducting a class. 

And for some "zealots," Bjarnason said, the commitment for some "takes on the dimension of the spiritual."

A man grimaces as he lifts weight at a gym in 1984. (The National/CBC Archives)

... Others, not so much

Sitting behind a weight machine, Karl Naumoff didn't quite fit Bjarnason's theory of gym membership.

"Where is it all going to end?" he asked. "When you don't feel like doing it ... you're going to lay back by the TV and watch football and drink beer." 

"Karl, are you actually enjoying this?" asked the reporter.

Naumoff sighed.

"Not really, but you've got to keep doing it if you want to stay fit."

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