9 Fitness Crazes That Took the Exercise Industry by Storm

Getting exercised

Fitness trends tend to be sprinters more than marathoners. And entrepreneurs have been quick to stay ahead of the curve. Here are some of the stars of the past and present.

1. Pilates


A system of yoga-like stretching and core training using machines first developed by Joseph Pilates, a German-born fitness guru who immigrated to the U.S. in the 1920s.

2. Zumba


Brought to the U.S. in 1999 by dancer Alberto Perez, this class has you doing fast-paced variations on the Merengue and Salsa. The company has licensed instructors in over 90,000 locations and sells apparel and DVDs. There’s even a Zumba cruise.

3. Tae Bo


A combination of tae kwon do and boxing, this fitness class, invented by Billy Blanks in 1982, was one of the first to appeal to men. Blanks has moved more than 500 million videos.

4. Aerobics


It was just exercise until Jane Fonda slithered into those shimmery spandex body suits in 1982. She sold more than 17 million copies of her iconic Jane Fonda’s Workout video.

5. Crossfit


A varied, high-intensity workout created by Gregg Glassman. It’s neither a wholly owned chain of gyms nor a franchise, but the nucleus of a sprawling worldwide network of entrepreneurs.

6. Jazzercise


It’s dance. It’s exercise. Wait! You’re both right. This fitness craze, developed by Judi Sheppard Missett in 1969, is still around today, with more than 7,800 franchisees.

7. Pure Barre


This is a minimal-impact stretching and strength routine focused on using a ballet barre and isometric movement. Founded by dancer and trainer Carrie Rezabek Dorr in 2001 in Birmingham, Michigan, Pure Barre now has more than 325 studios.

8. Spinning


This stationary bike workout, trademarked in 1994 by Johnny Goldberg, began as training on bad weather days. He co-founded Mad Dogg Athletics, which markets equipment, clothing, and events, and still protects the Spinning trademark.

9. Tough Mudder


More event than exercise regimen, it’s a torture course that tests physical and mental strength. Founded by Will Dean and Guy Livingstone, Tough Mudder and rivals such as Spartan Race have developed into a $350 million industry, although growth has slowed.