My career in fitness consists of two bookends
sandwiching a stint in the computer industry. But that computer training gave me a different way of analyzing the fitness industry.
But in that exciting world of high-tech there was a term bandied about, called "inflection points". These were points in time, where due to an invention, cultural shift, or a "tipping point", a phenomenon occurred for the rapid adoption of a product, practice, or idea that caused progress to surge ahead.
Inflection points are points in time, where due to an invention, cultural shift, or a "tipping point", a phenomenon occurred for the rapid adoption of a product, practice, or idea that caused progress to surge ahead
The supreme case in point would have to be the invention of the personal computer. Give credit to whomever you want, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, or IBM, but the introduction of that product caused an inflection point and the human race will never be the same again.
But that's not all. If you recognize inflection points as they are occurring, you can respond appropriately and not be rendered obsolete. (No, not everybody thought PCs were going to catch on. Ken Olson, the founder of Digital Equipment Corp once said: "There is no reason for any individual to have a computer in their home". Digital got swallowed up by Compaq, a PC maker).
If you recognize an inflection point when you see one, then you can ponder about the future and hopefully not become a dinosaur like poor old Digital.
Table of Inflection Points in Fitness
So that's the model I bring to the fitness industry. I've pondered about the inflection points in the fitness industry and here are some of my observations. If you think about it, you may be able to add to the list.
I'll discuss just a few of them:
- The Jack LaLanne Show & Gym (1951)
- President's Council on Physical Fitness & Sports (1960)
- Surgeon General's Report on Dangers of Sedentary Living (1966)
- Kenneth Cooper coins "Aerobics" (1968)
- Arthur Jones Nautilus (1970)
- Dance Aerobics (1970)
- Ray Wilson and Augie Neito Life Cycle (1975)
- "Pumping Iron" movie about Arnold Schwarzenegger (1977)
- Development of Feedback Systems on exercise machines (1980's to today)
- Elliptical Trainers and Cross Trainers (1995)
- Express Gyms (2000)
- Mind/Body Exercise (2000)
Jack LaLanne Breaks Stereotype and Brings Exercise to the Masses
It takes a lot of courage to stick to your convictions and fight the naysayers. You have to understand what the world was like before Jack LaLanne. Nobody exercised. Even many of the sports heroes of the time smoked and drank. Jack was labeled as a weirdo for espousing the benefits of exercise and sound nutrition.
In the 1950's, coaches told athletes not to lift weights because it was bad for them. It wasn't until the late '70s when the Dallas Cowboys hired the first strength coach that people paid real attention to strength training, something Jack was preaching all along.
Even doctors were against it at the time. And culturally, if you exercised you were considered odd. But it took a guy like Jack who got the nutrition and exercise bug early in life to bring it to many people.
From 1951 to 1984 he sat in front of millions of viewers and urged them to exercise with him. "The Jack LaLanne" show brought fitness right into the home and simplified it. While the kids were taking physical education at school, mom was doing scissor legs in the living room.
What's more is that LaLanne opened, what is believed to be, one of the U.S.'s first health club in 1936 in Oakland. He invented equipment that is standard-issue in gyms today, such as the leg extension machine. He encouraged people -- including women and seniors -- to lift weights at a time when many doctors believed it was unhealthy.
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