Have you ever wondered what exercise looked like 100 years ago? Women had to keep fit somehow, but what exactly were they doing to keep the desired bodies of their time? Benenden Health’s new video takes a look at how women’s exercise trends have evolved over the decades, growing in vigor and conforming to fit the cultural atmosphere of the times. From the tame stretches of the early 1900s to the Jazzercise movement of the 70s, working out has gotten a lot more intense as the years progressed, giving credence to the fact that the past really was a simpler time.

The video starts with exercises from the 1910s, where simple stretching in classic ankle-length skirts was popular to improve the hips, and even ease constipation. Women of this era also found their exercise by biking riding, the latest invention that offered a sense of freedom, some fresh air, and a release of endorphins.

The 1920s saw the same type of gentle stretching, yet added some twisting movements to mimic the popular dance of the time, The Charleston. In both decades, vanity prevailed over health, promoting exercises that prevented women from sweating and allowing them to maintain glamor. In the 20s, women often wore silk nightgowns and complete make-up when working out (can you imagine?).

The tame stretches of the 1910s. Screenshot, Benenden Health

The 1930s was the first official departure from the past, with the introduction of Mary Bagot Stack’s Women’s League of Health and Beauty. Stack wanted to make fitness a national craze, incorporating more vigorous movements like star jumps for entire classes of women. With the onset of the war in the 1940s, however, membership to this organization decreased as women began exercising in their homes. Movements that once again ensured little sweat were often practiced, including an early prototype of the sit-up.

The 1950s featured good product placement meeting an exercise craze, as many used the hula hoop both for entertainment and fitness. The 60s, however, tossed this trend aside in favor of the Trim Twist, a square board mounted to a turning mechanism that allowed women to twist their way to a better butt, stomach, arms, and legs.

During the 1970s, the mass Jazzercise movement began, initiated by Broadway star Judi Sheppard Missett. Designed to slim and tone figures, the new style of dance-exercise combined aerobics with jazz movements, fitting the tone of the disco age. Believe it or not, it’s still practiced in 32 countries!

The 1980's movement was led Jane Fonda's exercise videos. Screenshot, Benenden Health

As the 1980s brought in the age of big hair, and neon everything, fitness fads followed suit, and became a marker of the period. Jane Fonda’s work-out routines reigned supreme, featuring high kicks to get the heart pumping. The 90s, however, traded out Fonda for Billy Blanks’s Tae Bo fitness craze. Combining taekwondo with boxing, Blanks’s work-out helped target every part of the body.

The 2000s ushered in a new period of hip-hop based exercise, known as “street dancing.” Popping, locking, bobbing, weaving, and punching helped work both the muscles and the heart.

Finally, in the 2010s we see the dawn of the Zumba movement, where Latino exercise fusion has its many participants feeling like they’re in a club rather than a gym. Incorporating salsa, hip-hop, samba, merengue, soca, and mambo, it is hugely popular and attracting women of all ages.

Exercise fads have changed tremendously over the years. As fitness trends moved to conform with the times, women stopped caring about how they looked during exercise and instead favored how they’d feel after. With more cardio-based work-outs that target all parts of the body, we’ve come a long way since the simple, lady-like stretch.