Special Report

The Most Popular Exercise Fad Every Year Since 1956

Source: Courtesy of Gazelle

1996: Gazelle Freestyle

The Gazelle Freestyle is yet another piece of workout equipment that rose to national prominence because of its infomercials. The machine is billed as a way to increase endurance without being too intense for people with less experience working out. It has received mixed reviews from users.

Source: Courtesy of Tele Brands India

1997: EZ Krunch

EZ Krunch was one of a litany of products constantly advertised on television that promised to deliver perfect abs to those who used it. The product, which resembled bicycle handlebars, was part of what the Wall Street Journal dubbed “The Ab Wars” between different core workout tools.

Source: Wavebreakmedia / iStock

1998: Elliptical

Now a staple in gyms nationwide, the elliptical burst onto the health and fitness scene in the 1990s. The elliptical provided people a way to exercise that is similar to running without straining the feet and joints the way that running on a treadmill can.

Source: Courtesy of ANCHOR BAY

1999: Tae Bo

In 1999, the most popular home video sold was not a big summer blockbuster — it was “Tae Bo.” Tae Bo, which stands for Total Awareness of Excellent Body Obedience, was a video series that combined martial arts with aerobics for a comprehensive workout.

Source: fizkes / iStock

2000: Pilates

Pilates is a series of coordinated exercises designed to strengthen a person’s core. The practice was created by Joseph Pilates, a German immigrant who opened the first pilates studio in New York City. It initially caught on with ballet dancers, but later expanded to a wider audience.

Source: Ridofranz / iStock

2001: Kettlebell

Kettlebells have been used as weights for strength training and showing off for over a century. Circus strongmen often used kettlebells to demonstrate their power. The practice came back into popularity thanks to Russian fitness expert and former Spetsnaz trainer Pavel Tsatsouline.

Source: Courtesy of Ventura Distribution

2002: Thug Workout

When rapper DMX was at the height of his fame in 2002, he and his group the Ruff Ryders decided to stop, drop, and open up shop in their very own workout video. The video emphasized that people could use everyday objects to stay in shape instead of using pricey workout equipment.

Source: Courtesy of Beachbody

2003: P90X

P90X was a successful set of workout DVDs known for their intensity. It consisted of a dozen workouts, many of which lasted for more than an hour. P90X used a concept called “muscle confusion” to avoid plateaus and keep the body in shape.

Source: fizkes / iStock

2004: Yoga

Yoga originated in India thousands of years ago. In 2004, millions of people picked up the discipline, pushing its user total to 15 million people.

Source: Lily Lawrence / Getty Images for Pure Barre

2005: Barre

Barre is a ballet-inspired workout that can be traced back to 1959. It was initially used as a way to keep dancers limber and in shape. In 2005, the fitness fad saw a major resurgence and classes are still held across the county to this day.