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From the ThighMaster to Tae Bo, boomers have done it all, writes Dakshana Bascaramurty in a photo gallery of fitness trends through the years

Late 70s, aerobics The aerobics craze might have never hit North America had Jane Fonda not injured her foot while working on a film. The actress took up aerobics as part of her recovery and overnight became a fitness icon with The Jane Fonda Workout, a series of aerobics videos where the slim star – outfitted in leotards and tights – brought jumping jacks, lunges and knee lifts to the masses.

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Early 90s, ThighMaster: North American women dissatisfied with their unshapely bodies saw the ThighMaster as a godsend: It was their low-input ticket to the same slim thighs as the product’s spokesperson, Suzanne Somers. To cater to boomers’ increasingly busy lives and desire for instant results, manufacturers of the metal-tubed device emphasized that the product could be used even while parked in front of the television.

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Mid 90s. BowFlex The BowFlex home gym made it to the North American market at the peak of the home gym craze. The resistance-training system pushed short, intense routines – small doses of exercise that would help boomers trim down and sculpt their muscles without having to leave their homes.

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Late 90s, Tae Bo: North Americans wanted fast results in the nineties and Billy Blanks was up for the challenge. The Tae Bo master showed boomers how to kick, jab and punch their way to trimmer waists, tighter buns and more muscular arms. This hybrid of kickboxing, dance and martial arts was adopted by the masses as the perfect all-encompassing exercise routine that could be conquered in an hour or less.

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Late 90s, Pilates: What better way to pitch a fitness routine to increasingly busy boomers than to emphasize control? Pilates – a hybrid of aerobics and yoga – was all about mastering breathing techniques and controlling muscles, while still delivering the physical results of other more exhausting types of exercise. While some equipment could be used, Pilates could largely be performed with only a mat, making it easy for women to flock to fitness studios for lunch-hour sessions or to perform the workout at home from an instructional DVD.

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2000s, yoga: The quick, high-intensity workouts of the nineties were the yin to the yang of the slow, calming practice of yoga in the 2000s. While yoga has been around for centuries, in this decade its various incarnations – Bikram, Ashtanga, Hatha and other forms – were embraced by boomers, who sought a workout that promoted wellness of both the mind and body. Lululemon Athletica was all too happy to lead the way in sparking a renewed interest in the downward dog.Franz Pfluegl

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