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100 Years Of Women's Fitness Crazes

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    Doesn't it feel like every person you know raves about their workouts at SoulCycle? Or maybe all your friends are really into barre class instead. Whatever it is right now, it will probably be something different by summer. Yep, there's always a new way to whip you into shape.

    And it turns out, when it comes to working out, modern humans have pretty much always craved variety. In fact, fitness trends and workout crazes have been around for thousands of years, dating back to Ancient Greece. But for women, particularly women in the U.S. and Britain, fitness became a priority at the turn of the 20th century. As researchers began to focus on the effects of exercise on the human body — especially the female form — new workout trends were developed.

    And over the years, we've been given every manner of fitness craze: From dumbbells and stretches in bloomers to high-cut bodysuits and neon spandex for Jazzercise. Not all fitness trends are crazy or funny or require outrageous outfits. But so many of them have — and therein lies a lot of the fun.

    From Buns of Steel videos, to the ThighMaster, to the magic of the Trim Twist, click ahead for some of the craziest, funniest, weirdest, and all around best workout trends from the past 100 years. Who knows, maybe you'll want to try one this #tbt.

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    1900s: Stretching and resistance

    What's better than waking up first thing in the morning and doing some exercises in your bloomers? Absolutely nothing. In this video, you can watch a woman perform a few routine workouts from the early turn of the 20th century. Nothing too crazy here, except uh, those fast side planks look like they hurt. (But that might be the camera?)

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    1920s: "Shadow Shrinking Exercises"

    In this video, a woman performs a workout routine recommended by Harold Dearden, an author and psychologist who wrote a book called Exercise and the Will in 1927. Specifically, Dearden had a chapter on obesity which said, "To a man the affliction is grave enough, but to a woman! — who save a woman shall attempt to measure its really dread significance." Doesn't that make you want to practice gingerly placing trinkets on the floor in front of you, and picking them back up again? (Yeah, me neither.)

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    1930s: Women's League of Health & Beauty

    The Women's League of Health and Beauty had a great motto: "Movement is life." Their group was a mass fitness movement that gained popularity in the '30s. It was founded by Mary Bagot Stack. The Women's League of Health and Beauty became so popular at one point that it had over 60,000 members. Some people regard the Women's League of Health and Beauty as the first mainstream workout plan for women.

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    1940s: Crazy machines, Part I

    Truth: Women had been using various types of machinery or equipment for exercise for decades by the '40s, like early treadmills made of wood and some of the very first exercise bikes. But these new and improved machines, that basically roll gently against a woman's body, became all the rage in a post-war world. The idea was that these machines would massage "problem areas" and induce weight loss by stimulating muscle contractions. The best (or maybe worst) part? That women worked out in little rompers, heels, flower clips, and full makeup.

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    1940s: "Glamour Girl Workout"

    But, just in case you didn't want to use a machine in the '40s, you could also do a bust workout in a cute lil two-piece instead. Best moment from the video: "Take it easy honey, the first 100 times are the hardest!" Note that even when a woman is leading the exercises in these videos, it's a man's voice doing the explaining.