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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 Jake 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! 






16 comments:

  1. Hi, Pam! When I was a boy I watched Jack LaLanne along with Richard Hittleman's Yoga and Health program. Later on I watched 20 Minute Workout and Body Shaping, primarily to ogle women like Keelin Curnuck! :)

    Happy new year, Pam!

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  2. Hi, Shady! Thanks for the comments and Happy New Year to you as well!

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  3. These videos are hilarious! Every once in a while I come across an exercise TV show sometimes, usually yoga. Nowadays, all the exercise stuff on TV tries to just get you to buy something.

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  4. You can still OnDemand exercise videos--at least on Comcast--it's just like Exercise TV.

    This post is making me think of Sit & Be Fit from PBS.

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  5. I really dig those chicks on the 20 minute workout. They used to play them inbetween the movies on the Cinemax movie channels in the 1980's. A lot of times they were more entertaining than the movies!

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  6. I totally agree with you Pam, but let's be a little bit honest. "20 Minute Workout" was more for the men who sat on the couch than the ladies who should have gotten off it. In fact, the Playboy Channel of that time had THEIR version of the exact same show ( with a couple of differences I will let you speculate on).

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  7. I found Sit and Be Fit, as well as Classic Stretch on NYC TV! 6 a.m. so get up early. I am taping so it is in my DVR section "forever" and can watch anytime.

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  8. I found Sit and Be Fit, as well as Classic Stretch on NYC TV! 6 a.m. so get up early. I am taping so it is in my DVR section "forever" and can watch anytime.

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  9. Hi Pam! :)

    I was so happy to find your article on exercise, while perusing "what happened to exercise shows on t.v.?"

    I can't believe how we have turned into a world of people who have been sold a bill of goods that everyone has to be focused on their INDIVIDUAL selves with shows to go with it per their particular Hollywood inspired demographic--such as 14 year olds having their own shows all the way to smaller children and then up from there for each kind of individual you can imagine---vs. exercise shows which are for EVERYONE--and something everyone NEEDS!

    In today's Hollyworld, it is a better financial bet to put out shows for as many individuals as possible to show everyone how different they are--which can come with particular clothing, facial care, hair care, phone cover colors, shoes, and everything else imaginable vs. people coming TOGETHER and working together.

    I just recently found out that Body by Jake was out of business, but remembered how great their equipment used to be and how it was that people used to buy their own home-gym equipment and how many versions of models there were that worked on some very important and specific areas such as lower back, or legs or the whole body--and while sitting--vs. today where walking, and too many versions of treadmills exists--completely ignoring those who can't do standing exercise--where Body by Jake had machines that were well-built that worked many different areas that allowed people to get stronger in their own homes, where now not only are those machines gone, but so is exercise t.v. to show people how to use regular items they could find in their own homes to work out with.

    A long post, to be sure, but one that really reflects my upset at the study of how "reality t.v." has replaced REAL reality t.v.--one that shows people how to come together over a cause that affects everyone in the need for good health.

    I thank you for the clips posted, and for this article you wrote. :)

    Thank you.

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  10. Hi Pam! :)

    I was so happy to find your article on exercise, while perusing "what happened to exercise shows on t.v.?"

    I can't believe how we have turned into a world of people who have been sold a bill of goods that everyone has to be focused on their INDIVIDUAL selves with shows to go with it per their particular Hollywood inspired demographic--such as 2 year olds, or 10 year olds or 14 year olds all having their own very focused shows for each kind of individual vs. family without exercise shows--and something POSITIVE to include in our days--which are for EVERYONE--and something everyone NEEDS!

    In today's Hollyworld, it is a better financial bet for those with $ to make, to put out shows for as many individual groups as possible to show them how different they are--and because so, need their own particular clothing, facial care, hair care, phone cover colors,toothpaste, shoes, and everything else imaginable vs. ever putting out how people need to come TOGETHER or have common goals and needs.

    I just recently found out that Body by Jake was out of business, but remembered how great their equipment used to be and how it was that people used to buy their own home-gym equipment and how many models there were that worked on some very important and specific areas such as lower back, or legs or the whole body--and while sitting--vs. today where walking, and too many versions of treadmills exists--completely ignoring those who can't do standing exercise--where Body by Jake had machines that were well-built in the USA that worked many different areas that allowed people to get stronger in their own homes, where now not only are those machines gone, but so is exercise t.v. to show people how to use regular items they could find in their own homes to work out with could make a real difference in their own health while watching and doing along with a professional vs. having to buy dvd's vs. putting the $$ we are already putting out to cable to better use! The cable companies put out what they want vs. asking what their customers want. I had heard that Fit TV was absorbed by another channel that bought them out that just does not seem fair--to those who used to count on interacting with another human being to do something so important in their life--sometimes it is important not to feel alone and to have someone cheering you on that they are with you while you try to keep up.

    A long post, to be sure, but one that really reflects my upset at the study of how "reality t.v." has replaced REAL reality t.v.--one that shows people how to come together over a cause that affects everyone in the need for good health.

    I thank you for the clips posted, and for this article you wrote. :)

    Thank you.

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  11. Oh, Pam where is your research? Neither Exercise TV nor Fit TV bit it after a couple of years. In fact, Fit TV was on the air for many years and very popular, but it had been bought by Discovery Networks and when Discovery contracted with Oprah Winfrey to start up OWN, they moved that Discovery Health mess over the channel. They had never even ordered Nielsen ratings for FIT TV. They had at least one opportunity to sell it, but they chose to keep it around to destroy. It just didn't measure up to Discovery Network's usual standard of appealing to the absolute lowest common denominator. Exercise TV was around for several years but it went down when the economy did. Now there are a lot of subscription fitness channels on TV. I won't be doing that. I wish they'd bring some back too, even the old reruns. After all, everyone can't get to the gym and who do they think is watching TV? Duh.

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    1. Well, Fit TV was around for a while longer than I originally found info on but ExerciseTV was only in business for 5 years: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ExerciseTV

      Today you can find a lot of fitness programs online -- I saw one advertised on TV that I think Netflix or Hulu has -- so that replaced the TV and cable programs. Still, it would be nice if they had a workout show again on the air in the A.M. or afternoon...it would make a fine replacement for one of the nonsense talk shows.

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  12. back in 2008 or 2009 there was a black man with a deep voice I had taped with my VCR. I no longer have that video and was wondering if anyone knew who he was? The one show I taped was a step aerobic workout. I know...very vague, but hopefully if anyone has any ideas of who it may be, I can check all of the names. I'd know him if I saw him and heard his voice and laugh. That workout killed me every time I did it! It isn't Dolvette from biggest loser either. Thanks to anyone who has an inkling

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  13. Hi! Really fitness program in television is so much hilarious to watch it.It's can make you laugh fully.Lovely post... :-)

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  14. These programs bring back so many memories!! There was another gal from Canada who did Everday Workout...I followed her every day for a few years. I miss these programs.

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  15. Anonymous: the "black man with a deep voice" may have been Lee Haney. Google him. He was a Mr. Olympia winner who took over after Arnold.

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