Special Report

The Most Popular Exercise Fad Every Year Since 1956

Source: Courtesy of BowFlex

1986: BowFlex Home Gym

The BowFlex Home Gym burst onto the fitness scene in 1986, offering consumers a new option to use resistance to train their muscles. This made the BowFlex less bulky than other exercise equipment.

Source: Courtesy of Greg Smithey

1987: Buns of Steel

“Buns of Steel” became a must-own VHS tape for anyone in the 1980s looking to tone their backside. Though it became a pop culture punchline, the video was widely popular. It also included some arm and core workouts as well.

Source: Courtesy of Time Life Entertainment

1988: Sweatin’ to the Oldies

Richard Simmons may not look like the typical fitness expert, but his “Sweatin’ to the Oldies” videos are a certified phenomenon. Simmons led upbeat aerobic exercises to classic pop music hits. The video series reportedly sold over 20 million copies.

Source: Expandinglight5 / Wikimedia Commons

1989: Abdominizer

The Abdominizer was a simple device designed to help people sculpt their abs. It became a successful product in the late 1980s thanks to a series of infomercials in 1988. In the following years, consumers bought over 3 million Abdominizers.

Source: Courtesy of suzannesomers.com

1990: ThighMaster

The ThighMaster proved the power of the infomercial. The simple tool was designed to tone and firm the thighs and legs through a series of simple exercises. The ThighMaster made over $100 million, largely thanks to spokesperson Suzanne Somers.

Source: Courtesy of Bodyblade

1991: BodyBlade

The BodyBlade was initially designed by a physical therapist as a rehabilitation tool. Users wiggle the flexible staff back and forth to tone arm and core muscles. Initially released in 1991, 1.5 million BodyBlades have been sold since.

Source: Courtesy of Gaiam - Fitness

1992: Cindy Crawford: Shape Your Body

Supermodel Cindy Crawford was world famous for looking great in 1992, so it is no surprise that people would want her workout. She starred in a series of workout tapes, starting with the “Cindy Crawford Shape Your Body Workout.”

Source: Courtesy of NordicTrack

1993: NordicTrack

The NordicTrack cross-country skiing simulator was invented in the garage of Edward Pauls in Chaska, Minnesota in 1975. Over time, the invention became more and more popular, earning $378 million in sales in 1993.

Source: The Abs Company

1994: The Ab Roller

Many fitness fads focus on getting rock-hard abs. The most successful of them may be the Ab Roller. The product supports the user’s head while they do crunches, and brought in $1 billion in sales.

Source: Courtesy of Uav Corporation

1995: 8 Minute Abs

“8 Minute Abs” marketed itself as the perfect option for people who want a six-pack but do not want to spend a lot of time getting it. The video demonstrated nine exercises designed to sculpt the midsection in less time than it would take to drive to the gym.