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Fitness centres became a common part of life in our advanced civilisation during the 20th century. But where did people exercise before that and how have these places bursting with muscles managed to influence our world?

The fitness centre: a temple of perfection

Eva Ledecká
16.Mar 2017
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2 minutes to read

Where did people go to perfect their figures in the past?

The answer is simple. Their work did not consist in sitting in front of a computer as is commonplace nowadays. People worked with their hands, carried heavy loads, they didn’t have cars and walked more. So it was not necessary to create places where people could pay to work up a sweat and shape their bodies. 

Bodyism collection spring/summer 2017
Bodyism collection spring/summer 2017
Bodyism collection spring/summer 2017

It was only at the end of the 20th century when work started to change that the need to exercise arose. After sitting down all day, people needed to stretch their muscles, to exercise, to have fun and of course also to lose weight. The second half of the 20th century thus registered great development, not only in the field of fitness centres, but sport in general.

The cult of youth and perfection

The fitness centre boom was greatly aided by the cult of youth and perfection. People who did sports, lived healthily, were young and had the perfect body became the elite. This cult picked up other requirements along the way and new luxuries which we nowadays regard as quite commonplace started to emerge.

Luxusní byt Vinohrady - 230m
Luxusní byt Vinohrady - 230m, Praha 2

A perfectly chiselled body looks better tanned – this heralded the emergence of tanning studios. Products appeared on the market to support muscle growth, significantly supporting this growth. The world began to be flooded with nutrition consultants and guaranteed diets. Where fitness failed to help, plastic surgeons stepped in.

Fitness fashion

The fashion industry did not allow itself to be left by the wayside either. Brands started to develop better quality fitness clothing which acquired special properties: it draws off swear, is breathable, light and extremely comfortable. Fashion designers design special luxury models which are gradually developing just like fashion itself.

Luxurious sportswear is currently available with multi-coloured prints, as is high quality footwear and a lot of accessories designed for fitness centres and for exercising outdoors.

Companies offering everything are no exception to the rule: from food supplements and compilation of an exercise programme, right through to luxury sportswear. One example of this is the London-based company Bodyism which has fans all over the world. Some of the items from its luxurious new collection can be seen in the gallery.

A major transformation over the course of a few years

Fitness centres themselves have undergone major changes since the last century. Places where in the past ladders, rings and mats sufficed, now hold state-of-the-art exercise machines, television screens, private instructors and also a bar offering nutritious cocktails.

It is almost unbelievable how much can change over a few decades. And we haven’t even touched on the world of modern technology yet, where sport and fitness are of course also represented to a large degree. Everything is however transient. That which is nowadays regarded as the pinnacle of a modern and luxurious life will look like something out of the history books in a few years’ time. Let us wait and see where developments in the sporting and other industries take us.

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