The counts, beats per minute & thong leotard

Recently I asked a director of a personal training fitness program, who also happens to have a PhD, who invented aerobics? His response: Richard Simmons. (I thought he was going to say Jane Fonda.) I wasn’t surprised as I assume most Americans would credit afro-totting “fitness guru” Richard Simmons or leotard, tights, and leg warmer wearing Jane Fonda as the inventor of aerobics.

The term and form of exercise known as aerobics was developed by exercise physiologist, Kenneth H. Cooper, M.D. Dr. Cooper, a self-declared exercise enthusiast and former Air Force Colonel, didn’t understand why folks with excellent muscular strength couldn’t perform tasks like long-distance running, swimming, and bicycling. In 1968, he authored the book Aerobics that emphasized a point system for improving the cardiovascular system.

Aerobics is a physical exercise that combines movement, stretching, and strength training routines and it’s goal is to improve flexibility, muscular strength, and cardiovascular fitness. Dr. Cooper is the founder of the Cooper Aerobics Center (Cooper personal trainer mentorship) Craig Ranch, The Cooper Institute, and CooperLife in Texas.

Starting in the late 70s the traditional aerobic class was comprised of several dance-like exercises. The high impact aerobics and step aerobics class dominated the industry. I was certified by AAI/ISMA in the early 1990’s and taught at Living Well Lady and JackLaLanne (now known as Bally’s). I also worked at the famed Jeff Martin aerobics studio in NYC. It was there where Oscar winning actress Julia Roberts would clamor to take it-girl Patricia Moreno’s high impact class. Modern day aerobic classes are referred to as group exercise classes and lead by group fitness instructors (GroupEX).
Almost 20 years to the day, I’m off to the Cooper Institute at the end of June. I’ve been selected to attend cooper’s Functional Movement certification, sans leg warmers.




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