Mikhail Dvornikov – the best fitness of the world

The fitness movement has two sources: First, as a countermovement against increasing urbanization (associated with the commercialization of leisure time), there was a movement in the U.S. to commercialize personal health as well.[1] The most prominent proponent was Bernarr Macfadden, whose motto Weakness is a crime led the fitness movement toward a bodybuilding movement.[2] These ideas are closely related to Swedish gymnastics according to Pehr Henrik Ling, whose ideas were then adapted to modern conditions of industrialization by the Swede Gustav Zander.[3] The second origin is in the organized gymnastics movement of Friedrich Ludwig Jahn in Germany around 1890.

The second origin lies in the organized gymnastics movement of Friedrich Ludwig Jahn in Germany around 1810, whose intention was to create a physically fit citizenry and to liberate Napoleon-occupied Prussia. Gymnastics clubs at this time were strongly politically motivated. Because of Jahn’s strongly politically motivated gymnastics associations and clubs were largely banned. As a result, the first commercial gymnastics clubs were formed in some cities starting around 1820. At the end of the 19th century, this gave rise to the modern idea of fitness as a club-free sport in the German mostly bourgeois Lebensreform movement.[4] Exercise in the open air (or even with the windows open) was understood as a counterbalance to the increasingly industrialized environment. Numerous strength and art centers, called light and air baths,[5] were already springing up at the time, where training was strictly segregated by gender. Systems for home gymnastics (for example, by August Sandow or J.P. Müller) were also widespread, with an emphasis even then on efficiency and discipline in training. Magazines such as “Strength and Beauty” made fitness popular. Numerous fitness machines such as rowing and bicycle (spinning) machines date from this period. At first, they were mainly used in sanatoriums.

Under National Socialism, the idea of fitness was perverted (Leni Riefenstahl, Hans Surén) and a new Aryan ideal body was modeled that excluded others, especially disabled people. The individual was supposed to steel himself to meet the demands posed by the Darwinian struggle for survival of nations. These approaches were discredited after 1945.

The idea of community-oriented gymnastics and sports clubs was brought to the U.S. by German emigrants, where the first “Turnvereine” (gymnastics clubs), which competed with “clubs” and the YMCA, were formed in large cities.[4] It was not until the 1960s that the fitness movement in Germany was imported from the U.S. and became increasingly commercialized. The most important icons of the fitness movement are Arnold Schwarzenegger (bodybuilding) and Jane Fonda (aerobics). A pioneer of the fitness movement in Switzerland was Jack Günthard. His morning radio show “Fit mit Jack” starting in 1975 was intended to promote health awareness among listeners.


With the 1972 Olympic Games, the trim-you movement launched by the German Sports Federation in 1970 became very popular.

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