Fitness. Then and Now.

A decade of fitness

The evolution of the fitness industry, and how workouts and diets have evolved over the past decade.

In 2015 Fitness magazine celebrated ten years of publishing South Africa’s favourite health and fitness mag.

Since our launch, content, design and physiques portrayed in Fitness mag have evolved. Read on as we take a look back at the evolution of the fitness physique industry and how workouts and diets have evolved over the past 10 years.

Workouts: Then and now

While the type of conventional isolation training that dominates bodybuilding is still a core focus for anyone interested in enhancing their physique, be it for the stage or the beach, the type of training being done in gyms across South Africa has evolved.

Then and now the evolution of fitness

As early as 2007 Fitness magazine began incorporating the functional training trend into workout features, with Nicole Seymour a key advocate for this type of training. Popular isolation moves were combined with key compound moves to help burn calories and blast fat while also improving strength and adding sexy muscle.

Since then we have introduced readers to the world of strength and conditioning, metabolic conditioning and the high intensity world of CrossFit. Today’s gym environment is often a blend of elements from all of these popular training modalities, but the basics for building better bodies have remained at the core of every programme shared in the magazine.

Diets: Then and now

In much the same way that training programmes have evolved, so has our approach to eating. While the key message of managing your daily calorie intake hasn’t changed, the finer details like macronutrient ratios, timing and manipulation have evolved over the years.

A decade ago everyone followed the conventional nutritional advice of low-fat eating for weight management and weight loss.

Protein intake has and always be important, but the discussion around the role of carbs and fats in healthy diets has changed tremendously over the years.

While low-carb diets are not new, with Fitness magazine featuring articles on the South Beach diet and the Atkins diet as far back as 2007, the trend hit the mainstream in 2013 when the Banting diet advocated by Prof. Tim Noakes became such a hot, controversial topic. While not everyone is in agreement about the need to add so much saturated fat into our diets, what has become clear is the damage that sugar, processed carbs and other man-made foods has one our bodies and our health.

For these reasons macronutrient manipulation tools such as carb cycling have become popular among competitive athletes and fitness models alike. There is no doubt that the diet trend is moving towards fewer carbs, giving rise to popular trends such as Paleo or caveman diets and a resurgence of the low-carb diets already mentioned, with additional techniques such as intermittent fasting and carb backloading also growing in prominence.

The evolution of the fitness industry

Fitness in South Africa: Then and now

Flip through the pages of any edition Muscle Evolution magazine over the last 12 years and you’ll find that ladies have been stepping on to the competitive stage for just as long as the guys. However, back then the look was vastly different.

Categories consisted of the technical Fitness division – a routine-based division that combined elements of physique enhancement, displays of strength and gymnastics. At one point this was the most popular division among the women, and gave rise to South Africa’s most iconic fitness athlete, Nicole Seymour. The other divisions were more physique oriented, with line-ups such as Body Fitness, Women’s bodybuilding and the Physique categories. The latter were extreme in the type and degree of physique development that was rewarded on stage which meant interest from the mainstream market was low.

In an effort to broaden the appeal of these shows and introduce the healthy and fit lifestyle that was synonymous with the industry at large, a number of pageant-type events and showpieces hit the local market and became a resounding success.

Events like the Exergise Dis-Chem show, Fame, Mr & Miss Fitness SA and Body Beautiful delivered a spectacle – beautiful bodies strutting their stuff on stage in swimsuits and, sometimes, evening wear.

These shows coincided with a renaissance in the local gym industry as big-name global and local brands began their aggressive expansions of gyms in South Africa. The supplement market was also becoming big business in South Africa at the time and these rapidly expanding companies were looking for attractive athletes and models who could represent their brands. As a result training for aesthetics was alive and well in South Africa, and Fitness magazine was the foremost source of relevant and informative content in that regard.

With the continued growth in appeal of the pageant-type shows the world’s biggest bodybuilding federation also got in on the act when, in 2010, the IFBB added the Bikini division to their line-ups. The other federations soon followed and the competitive stage finally had a line-up that appealed the broader female market.

And with the big international names as their motivation, such as Monica Brandt, Jamie Eason, Jennifer Nicole Lee, Jessica Paxson Putnam, Ava Cowen, Kasie Ray, Amanda Adams, Kim Dolan Leto and Jen Jewell who have all graced the cover of Fitness magazine, the brand continued to build a loyal following of readers who are serious about their training, nutrition and supplementation.

Author: Tanja Schmitz

Founder and Editor of Fitness Magazine. You’ll find her behind her computer or on her bike, dreaming up new ways to improve or create content for you.

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