A Brief and Instructive History of Fitness Development

A Brief and Instructive History of Fitness Development

The very word “fitness” actually means good health and good condition. That is why it is very closely connected with health and activities of any kind. It may sound strange, but one form of fitness was practiced by primitive man. In this case, fitness means continuous movement (walking or running, hunting). In this text, we will make a brief review of the history of fitness development.

Primitive Man

The life of primitive nomadic tribes consisted of a constant search for food and water. The tribes spent 2-3 days in the hunt. Upon their return from the hunt they celebrated a good catch by dancing and performing various kinds of games.

A Brief and Instructive History of Fitness Development - A primitive man is hunting.

The real beginning of civilization was Neolithic. In addition to raising animals, people began to engage in agriculture, growing various plants. That meant digging, sowing and gathering fruits. All these activities meant good physical condition.

The beginnings of fitness

In China, even before Christ, people considered that , physical activity was also very important. It was even considered that physical activities successfully cured some diseases. That is when the martial art called “Kung Fu” was born, which implies a large number of body movements, and changing positions. In contrast, in India, the existence of fitness, they closely linked to Buddhism. Unlike Kung Fu, where the emphasis is on movement, in India attention was paid to Yoga. Yoga means the union of body, mind and spirit.

Further development of fitness from…

A Brief and Instructive History of Fitness Development - Old Greeks running at palestra.

No civilization before, and perhaps not since, has influenced the development and rise of fitness as much as Greece. The Greeks believed that the development of the body was as important as the development of the mind. They often emphasized the slogan “exercise for the body, music for the soul”. Gymnastics occupied a special place in the so-called gymnasiums. palestras, where boys aged 14-16 practiced. The main activities were, in addition to gymnastics, running, jumping and wrestling.

There is not much that we can say about Sparta and the development of physical culture in it. The best trained and prepared army is based on the trainings that were held in Sparta. The 6-year-old boys had rigorous training to become superhumanly prepared soldiers. Also, they expressed their physical dominance in various competitions such as the Olympic Games. Even Spartan women dominated with strength and endurance.

…till today

During the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, fitness expanded in Europe in the 18th century, especially in advanced countries (Germany, Sweden, Great Britain).

The period between the First and Second World Wars stopped the development of fitness. After the end of the Second World War, Jack La Lanne appears in America appears Jack La Lanne. He reorganized fitness programs. We can consider him as the first media fitness instructor. He presented many new programs on television (aerobics, various fitness equipment, resistance training).


The 70s of the last century saw the expansion of fitness, which continues. Physical and fitness development have never been more diverse and richer than today.