Whatever Happened to Jane Fonda in Tights?

The New York Times—NEW YORK CITY—February 20, 2007

In the 1980s many people took as many as six aerobics classes a week when aerobics was new and everywhere.

The early aerobics craze took millions of Americans to group exercise classes for the first time. The hordes came, believing that nonstop jumping, kicking and running in place to (bad) throbbing music was the ideal way to raise one’s pulse.

Some of the damage is severe. “It’s not uncommon for us to see acute and overuse injuries from high-impact aerobics,” said Dr. Jordan D. Metzl, a sports medicine specialist at Hospital for Special Surgery in New York. “It’s part of the reason that aerobics classes are on the wane.”

Indeed, if current trends continue, aerobics will be as rare as, for example, those vibrating belts that were supposed to jiggle away fatty hips and gravity boots that were supposed to — what was it they were supposed to do? For now, the popularity of aerobics is sharply down from when it was “the mainstay of fitness in America.”

It’s why you may have noticed — if you have shown up at your gym attired in your best leg warmers with a sweatshirt off one shoulder — the lack of aerobics classes on the menu. Fewer than half of the 300 gyms and health clubs recently surveyed by IDEA offered aerobics classes, a number that is “continuing to decline,” according to the summation of the report.

The legacy of injuries is one reason. Many of the original instructors won’t teach aerobics — because they can’t. “Those hardest hit by all those aerobics were often the teachers, because they were pushing harder than anyone else and doing the classes a dozen times a week,” Dr. Metzl said. “Our bodies just weren’t meant to withstand all that pounding.”

Read the full version of The New York Times article.

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