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Tuesday, April 07, 2015

I remember when fitness wasn't a thing

Passing a small car park near my home on Saturday I found it full of people in their thirties exercising under the eye of a couple of military-looking fitness instructors. This was taking place within yards of a couple of gyms, which were also full to bursting.

In my lifetime no change has taken place which is more dramatic and far-reaching than the renewed emphasis on fitness. I cannot tell you just how uninterested people used to be in exercise and diet. When I was in my twenties I didn't know anybody who ran, swam, cycled or went the gym. The only gyms were sinister-looking places above shops from which came the sound of boxing glove landing on punch bag. Nobody had trainers, either the footwear or human variety. It was not, to use a modern expression, a thing. Anybody seen indulging in any exercise for the simple reason that it might improve their appearance or prolong their life would have been thought conceited.

Since then a behavioural wave has swept the country which can only be compared to the temperance movement of the early 19th century. Our local swimming pool, which used to be somewhat down at heel, has been transformed into a fitness centre and is now thrumming with activity even at 6:30 in the morning. Visitors from the early 70s or even the 80s would not be able to believe their eyes.

Changes like this always make me wonder the same thing. What's going to change in the next forty years that will render the world we now live in just as unrecognisable to us on our hundredth birthdays?