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Joe Wicks (The Body Coach) home workouts have become a rage among families in lockdown, amassing 23 million viewers a week. The whole experience feels unifying and motivating, in an age of physical distancing. He is and part of a cultural legacy of fitness/entertainment, which stretches back many decades.
TV (and now YouTube) exercise is appealing due to its universality and inclusiveness: all generations and levels of fitness are embraced, without making anyone feel excluded.
.. was Jack LaLanne, whose self-titled fitness show in the US ran from 1951 to 1985, after which his celebrity status made him appear in prime-time sports and even on The Simpsons.
His bulging biceps coupled with a soft, empathic approach had a sense of intimacy and motivation, which resulted in a magnetic pull on women and children.
.. The famous George Orwell novel (published in 1949) got a lot of things right and has sustained its relevance in 2020, surprisingly also had a mandatory fitness session on a telescreen.
It described a PE teacher dressed in gym clothes making the comrades stretch and bend their arms.
... made home fitness videos a craze, where video rentals and usage of VCRs ensured the exercises can be done at any time. The BBC had a popular show called BBC Breakfast Time in 1983, spurring a trend of ‘get up and go’ fitness mornings, something that other channels copied fast.
The 80s fitness trend was phenomenal, as TV fitness personality Jane Fonda’s workouts became the biggest selling VHS tape of all time.
... saw Gurus like Richard Simmons and Susan Powter gain fame by using variations in the presentation of their fitness routines.
Derrick Evans, also known as Mr. Motivator first gained traction in 1993 and has now returned to the present TV lockdown workouts, using his reassuring screen presence to motivate and calm the people sitting at home.
Global trends have often followed the transatlantic model: the MTV Lebanon show Get Fit, or Indian fitness instructor Suchita Pal hosting a Zoom TV series based on popular Zumba routines.
Global music stars, including K-pop idols, now use social media to demonstrate gym workouts and yoga flows
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