Prancercise Video: 5 Of The Dumbest Exercise Fads In History
Joanna Rohrback is following a long tradition of goofy exercise ideas. (Photo: Video Screenshot)
If you haven't yet seen the Prancerise video, do yourself a favor and delight in the graceful locomotions of its equine-enthusiast creator.
To be fair, if you've ever been to a gym excercising looks almost universally ridiculous, whether we're running in place on over-engineered conveyor belts or looking like we're passing a kidney stone while attempting to beat our personal bench press record. Nevertheless, there are fitness fads that are so weird, embarrassing, ineffective or just plain inexplicable that they -- like many of histories greatest atrocities -- should never be forgotten lest we leave our children to repeat the same mistakes.
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Don't believe your jacked brother-in-law. No one really likes exercising. It's tiring, difficult and occasionally painful, as one might expect from activities designed to traumatize and rebuild muscle. And yet people have long believed that there must be another way, one that involves minimal activity and discomfort. Surely science will one day deliver us the means to cheat the cruel, cold hand of biology! This is the premise that fills late night television paid programming slots.
The popularity of vibration belt machines peaked somewhere around the 1950s, but newer, more "advanced" and portable versions are still being marketed to this day. The idea behind them is pretty simple: Everyone knows you have to move muscles to burn fat and get strong, but what if a machine moved them for you? Unfortunately, the idea of using a belt to jiggle your abdominals into shape is about as effective as driving your Ford Escalade down the block to get a couple miles worth of cardio.
Ah, the 80s! What better place to mine for hidden cultural atrocities?
Jazzercising is experiencing something of a Renaissance lately, thanks to an insidious combination of 80s nostalgia and the popularity of contemporary dancing-based exercises like Zumba. Like its spiritual descendant, Prancercising, it probably offers the cardio benefits that come with flailing around for set intervals of time.
One of the more recent exercise curiosity is the phenomenon of Christian Yoga. Now, individually neither of these things is particularly strange or uncommon. Nor is there anything peculiar about a Christian taking yoga classes.
But then there's Christian yoga.
Apparently some sects of Christianity consider the practice of yoga, which has origins in the Hindu religion, to be blasphemous. But rather than simply avoiding yoga, they've attempted to repackage it into something less harmful to their beliefs and selling it as a new, original, safe product, often with the poses renamed to something Christianity-related. Assuming God exists and cares about such things, one wonders if He would be so easily fooled?
Even in the 90s, we knew the 80s were pretty goofy. Deep in our hearts, we still wanted to Jazzercise, but we weren't quite comfortable with looking that vulnerable anymore. Thankfully, Billy Blanks heard our psychic pleas and created a kickboxing/dance fusion craze he called TaeBo. Debates even began to pop up in forums as to whether TaeBo could be used as a legitimate basis for self-defense.
5) Wii Fit
Too soon? Nintendo's balance board was intriguing when it came out; there had never been a peripheral quite like it. It's usefulness as a weight loss tool, however, is suspect at best. The board, out of necessity, limited the range of motions and space in which you could exercise. Once the novelty wore off -- or you got sick of the game's cutesy voice implying you were a ravenous eat-monster -- chances are the board ended up tucked away in some box behind your couch.