Looking Back at Ten Years of Women’s Fitness

Looking back over the past ten years of women’s fitness, a boot camp for women in strenuous exercise would have been unheard of.  Increases in physical stamina and maintenance of the female body, in addition to reducing stress and improving on their self image, were highly promoted in pregnant women in a moderate exercise program, but only done conservatively and under a physician’s guidance.  One researcher said, “although moderate exercise for women can be health promoting, excessive exercise produces specific concerns.  A significant loss of weight loss due to excessive exercise, often accompanied by disordered eating, may reduce estrogen levels and, thus, bone mineral density, increasing the risk of early osteoporosis fractures.”

With exercise and participation highly gendered throughout history, in 1896 it was documented that the ancient Greek summer Olympics felt it was inappropriate that women should engage in any physical activity for the sport.  So…they were not invited to participate, only attend to watch.  This remained the same until the 1900s when the two calmer sports – golf and tennis – allowed frustrated women to develop their own women’s Olympic Games. With or without the men’s permission, it debuted in Paris around 1922, ceasing for some unknown reason in 1934. Exercise and high levels of physical activity were only offered to men and boys, in an effort to “imbue their masculinity.”

Europe began to see it differently around the late 1800s, when public health organizations began to feel that a little exercise was necessary for women in order to improve upon their feminine constitution.  This caused a violent and very fierce opposition to develop, but women began to be accepted in exercise activities through ballet and calisthenics only.  By the 2000s, women had become involved in more types of exercise programs, but general participation was guarded and remained gender based in favor of males in many areas.

Teenage girls and boys have historically been segregated into two camps for exercise and physical involvements, with a belief system that promoted discrimination against women in exercise programs and sports:

  • Girls are less involved in sports than boys.
  • Boys are more physically active than girls.

The term masculine invokes competitiveness and more emotional involvement in sports than with girls.  Girls are more concerned about just having fun and being socially involved, which puts future involvement in competitive exercise programs or classes at risk.  Girls with no history of exercise participation are less likely to participate properly as they will not have family support, the price is too high, they have poor body image, no leisurely time is allowed for it, and ultimately this leads to a serious lack of their benefits of exercise.

Women have been seen over the years as busy within the home, family, domestic activities, friends and leisurely time – all of which were seen as taking preference over exercise.  Also, time and resources for exercise programs have been an issue for race and class in the western countries. In nonwestern countries, women’s daily activities were seen as sufficient physical activities in tribal living or nomadic living in communities.  International exercise programs were considered a waste of time and unnecessary for women.

Over the years, women have been considered part of a specific group of people – poor, mentally ill, elderly, prisons, racial and ethnic minorities … and of course, women.  Male intellectuals, the only source of women’s information in the early years, caused Virginia Woolf to say, “Have you any notion how many books are written about women in the course of one year? Have you any notion how many are written by men?  Are you aware that you are, perhaps, the most discussed animal in the Universe? “(Woolf. 1929. A room of one’s own.)  With a history like this for women, it is obvious that to attend NYC Adventure Boot Camp for women is a gift from the women who fought for our right to participate!

For more information regarding this post or for more information on NYC Adventure Boot Camp please contact us.


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