Saturday, December 28, 2013
Whatever Happened To...Fitness Television Programs?
I find it amazing that out of the hundreds of channels I receive in my cable subscription not a single one of them is devoted to health and fitness. There's never been a greater need for one. Americans continue to get fatter and unhealthier and nearly every week it seems there's a news story about our growing obesity problem, yet an exercise show featuring at-home workouts is apparently as elusive as the Tooth Fairy as we head into 2014.
Ironically, we had them when people were skinnier. I've mentioned Jack LaLanne on here a few times--and I bring him up again because he pioneered the concept of a fitness television show with exercises that one could do in the comfort of their home, in front of the set. The Jack LaLanne Show premiered in 1951 and ran until 1985. It was the longest running exercise program. LaLanne incorporated household objects that anyone had lying around, such as a chair, for viewers to participate. My mother loved it. She was a stay-at-home mom and the exercises helped her stay in shape. In addition to workout moves, LaLanne also doled out recipes and nutrition advice.
The 1980s saw a fitness revolution and growing up during that decade, I remember Richard Simmons having his own daytime morning show that incorporated exercises. I also remember Body by Jake, hosted by Hollywood trainer Jack Steinfeld, as well as 20 Minute Workout, a Canadian show which featured a bevy of aerobic wear-clad women demonstrating moves on a rotating platform (which makes me wonder how many male viewers were tuning in, not necessarily to work out.)
Now? Nothing. Instead of giving people something healthy and productive to do, TV and cable is overrun with reality TV programs...some of them, such as Man v. Food, even promote shoveling as much unhealthy s*it as you possibly can down your throat. Sure, you can look up free workouts online, but I think there really needs to be an exercise TV or cable show during the daytime or even in the early evening--something that people can DVR and watch when they have time to work out.
The likely reason why such shows no longer exist is because no one would watch them. There were two fitness channels on cable around 6 years ago, called Exercise TV and Fit TV, and both bit the dust after only a couple of years on the air. So, as the old saying goes, you can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink. I've blogged before about why today's society is so fat, and unfortunately, too many people don't seem to get that healthy eating and exercising is a lifestyle change, not something you do for a week and then give up on. Maybe if the networks at least tested an exercise show about this time of year, when people are making New Year's resolutions, they just might be able to make it stick around for a while--Lord knows we could use one.
Here's some clips from The Jack LaLanne Show, 20 Minute Workout, and Body by Jake. The 20 Minute Workout is VERY dated and comical!