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From Fit To Fab

1922: Charles Atlas Once a 98-pound. weakling, Atlas starts a mail-order body-building program. First marketed in comics, the regimen focuses on diet, hygiene, and good behavior and emphasizes a toned but not overly muscled physique. Legacy: Hot bodies in comic books 1939: Joe Weider Weider starts his publishing career with Your Physique magazine. Other titles follow. In 1989 he blasts Mr. Universe Bob Paris for coming out of the closet, effectively blackballing him from future competition wins. Legacy: Legitimizing homophobia in a very homoerotic sport 19511985: Jack LaLanne The Jack LaLanne Show, the first exercise TV show, airs on San Francisco ABC affiliate KGO, then on the entire ABC network. Legacy: Belted spandex onesies for men 1968: Kenneth Cooper Cooper, a physician at the San Antonio Air Force Hospital in Texas, publishes Aerobics, his book outlining his new exercise system designed to thwart coronary artery disease. Legacy: Leg warmers 1975: Arnold Schwarzenegger The future Governator wins a sixth straight Mr. Olympia title, then semiretires from pro body building. That year hes filmed for Pumping Iron (1977), showing the creepy world of competitive body building, where he equates a lifters pump with sexual climax. Legacy: Proof that anyone can get into politics 1979: Richard Simmons Simmonss exercise and weight-loss studio, the Anatomy Asylum, is featured on the TV show Real People. He will parlay the appearance into an inexplicable recurring role on General Hospital. Legacy: Swarovski crystaladorned tank tops 1981: Olivia Newton-John Her video for Lets Get Physical features woven headbands, pastels, and tons of hunky guys in tiny thongs. Alas, the fit guys are into pumping iron and each othernot ONJ. Legacy: Sex in the showers 1982: Jane Fonda Fondas hugely popular series of workout videos debuts (releases continue through the mid 1990s), eclipsing her lefty political past and even Barbarella, making fitness glamorous, fashionable, and accessible to millions of women. Legacy: Feel the burn! Early 1980smid 1990s: Jake Steinfeld The Jake of Body by Jake trains the physiques of Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, and Bette Midler. His website claims he single-handedly created the industry of personal fitness training. He also invented the Internet. Legacy: Yelling in infomercials Earlymid 1990s: Susan Powter She tries to stop the insanity (by cutting her bleached hair and yelling a lot?) with her infomercials. Now out and radicalized, she continues her work with an e-zine and upcoming cooking show respectively calledno jokeThe Monthly Flow and Taste My Broth. Legacy: Fit lesbians Late 1990spresent: Billy Blanks Jr. Black belt Blankss Tae Bo becomes inescapable on late-night TV. His products include a Christian version of his workout, and he has taken his fitness message to the prodigiously coiffed pious on Trinity Broadcasting Network. Legacy: Billy Blanks Jr.s Cardioke 2006present: Jackie Warner One of the highest-profile fitness pros on TV with Bravos reality show Work Out, Warner must avoid the land mines of pushy girlfriends, whiny employees, and lusty clients. Legacy: Flirting as cardio Send a letter to the editor about this article.
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Matthew Breen