Fitness and Fashion Collide


By Kim Lowman

Wellness Program Manager

Life is ever changing. I’ve been on this earth for 6 decades and each decade looks entirely different. Take fashion for instance… the 60’s with the new “bell bottom” look and the hippie culture turned into the 70’s where corduroy pants in all colors with a crocheted vest was a “look.” From there, it just got more and more interesting, with Farrah Fawcett big hair and spandex-wearing rock bands to “spacesuits” during the David Bowie phase. T-shirts and jeans were standard at the turn of the century and then came the leggings! For young people, leggings are all they know! If you’re into health and wellness, you call them “yoga pants.” They go with boots, high heels, and flats. Pair them with sneakers and you must be an athlete. For men, it’s more of the sweat pant look that has taken over. Fancy sweatpants with loafers or boat shoes says you are doing well in life; wear them with sandals and you are laid back and chill. If you wear old sweatpants and sneakers, then you must be walking the dog. So since we are all dressing as if we are working out… let’s take a look at how fitness has changed through the decades too! Just for fun.

In the 1960’s, my father was one of the few people in my town who “worked out.” He would lace up his work boots and go for a jog. They didn’t really make sneakers back then. There was no real organized place to go to work out. It wasn’t a thing. In the 70’s, he started to go to the Y. It wasn’t called the YMCA – just the Y. There he would do martial arts and then go for the work-boot jog. Sports was the way people got exercise—so mostly kids or athletes. I am sure there was yoga back then, too, but all the people I babysat for who did yoga behind their beaded curtains were doing more of what I call meditation. So, unless you were an athlete or a kid, you likely were not working out until the 80’s. This is where it all started, in my eyes. Suddenly there were jazzercise classes at community centers or church halls. The gym was a new thing—for men mostly. Videos were made and Jane Fonda convinced us all to wear ballet style workout gear called leotards. Men wore short shorts. Do you remember Richard Simmons? The 80’s were a fashion disaster all around if you look back. By the 90’s women were starting to go to the “gyms” too, which were now being called health clubs. Women did aerobics and men lifted weights. Brave women lifted weights, too, but I can tell you as one of those “brave” women that the men did not like it at all. Enter the turn of the century –there are health clubs and fitness centers everywhere. Men and woman, are “getting in shape.” It’s a craze. The medical and health industry has decided that a healthy lifestyle is important and so people are hitting the treadmills and the indoor bikes. Spinning becomes popular. First time I did it, I felt my heart beating 3 feet out in front of me. It had left my body. There were all kinds of trends, like step classes and kick boxing. Pilates and a new athletic kind of yoga made an entrance and everyone was all sweaty under one big roof.

So what about now? Well, the fitness industry has morphed yet again, just like the fashion industry did about a decade ago and the word wellness has become the new buzz word. A gentler kind of attention to health is now the focus. Yoga, Meditation, Mindfulness. Here’s where the yoga pants took over. Today, we think more about caring for ourselves in a wholeness way. Getting active, finding joy, eating nutritionally, getting enough sleep, getting enough sleep, getting enough sleep. Did Covid get us there by shutting down the “fitness factories” or were we already headed there? I’m not sure. I feared Covid would make us all complacent and uninspired, but I think for many of us it actually inspired us. I am amazed when I see people I have not seen in a long while and how healthy and well they look in their yoga pants! So, let’s embrace this fashion while we can. If those spacesuits come back, I don’t think we are going to be moving around too much in them.