Four Vintage Fitness Trends That Are Still Effective Today

The pursuit of fitness is as old as the hills. From Ancient Greece to Jazzercise, striving for peak health has been a hallmark of humankind – we just can’t get enough of working out.

And while some trends are better off left in the past, there’s something to be said for the classics. These tried and true tactics are just as effective today as they were in the days of yore. Stay tuned for some of our favorite time-tested mainstays.‌

  1. Medicine Balls

From humble beginnings as animal bladders filled with sand to the durable, commercial-grade ones we have now, medicine balls are a timeless fitness tool. 

Drawings dating back 3,000 years depict Persian wrestlers using medicine balls to build strength and endurance, while over in Greece Hippocrates considered them essential for mobility training and overall health. 

The name “medicine ball” didn’t come around until the late 1800s. At this point, it had long been a mainstay on college campuses, in army barracks, and anywhere strength training occurred. 

Even U.S. President Herbert Hoover got in on the action, creating a riff on volleyball using med balls he dubbed “Hooverball.”

  1. Stationary Bikes

Exercise bikes are enjoying a resurgence in popularity recently thanks to fitness apps and programs that allow us to enjoy spinning in the comfort of our own homes. Cycling has been popular for as long as there have been bikes, with stationary bikes popping up in homes as early as the 1920s.

When South African cyclist Johnny Goldberg needed a way to train at home in 1989, he cobbled together a stationary bike and created a workout routine. Classes soon followed, leading to the phenomenon known as Spinning.

  1. Yoga

Move over medicine balls, because we’ve got another ancient practice in the form of yoga. Originating in India thousands of years ago, yoga combines spiritual, physical, and mental elements.

On paper, yoga seems simple – yogis boost mental and physical well-being by implementing deep breathing alongside targeted body postures. But within this simple concept lies an endless variety of methods and traditions that have spanned centuries and the globe.

Suitable for practitioners of any skill level, yoga helps tone every part of the body, improves flexibility, and builds strength and balance. Thanks to deep breathing and slow movements, it gets the blood pumping and warms up the muscles. 

Yoga helps promote heart health, relieves certain symptoms and pain, and facilitates better sleep. When it comes to the brain, yoga is no slouch either. Those who practice regularly experience stress release, relaxation, brighter moods, and better cognitive performance.

And if that wasn’t enough, it’s also extremely easy to do at home – all one needs is a good yoga mat, a towel, and maybe a few blocks.

  1. Bodybuilding

Think of bodybuilding, and pictures of an oiled-up Arnold Schwarzenegger likely come to mind. But while the days of powerlifting might seem like they started in the late 1960s, they’re actually much older.

Kettlebells first popped up in 18th-century Russia as weights used for pulley systems. Since they were so readily available, people started swinging them around to build strength and increase stamina (and probably show off). 

Weightlifting goes back even further. Many prehistoric tribes saw members lifting giant natural rocks as a test of manhood and strength. This tradition has persisted in places like Germany, Scotland, Spain, and more.

Modern weightlifting can be traced to the strongmen of the 18th century. Using heavy iron or steel, these athletes would train to perform feats of strength in theaters, circuses, and international competitions.