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Fit Flashback: 20 Years of Health and Fitness Moments

For the last 20 years, FITNESS has had a front-row view of every workout craze, weight-loss breakthrough, and body-sculpting trend. Here we hit rewind on the exercise highs and lows that have shaped us.

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COURTESY MAD DOGG ATHLETICS, INC.
SnackWell cookies
Peter Ardito
Peter Ardito
COURTESY PRECOR, INC
COURTESY WNBA
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COURTESY TAE BO
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BERLINER/REXUSA
Courtesy Subway
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Courtesy Apple
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1992: Body Talk

FITNESS launches in 1992, proving that strong women are sexy -- even when wearing python print, like Christie Brinkley.

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1992: Spin-plosion

Millions fog up fitness studios after Spinning bikes hit gyms nationwide. The bike's inventor, Johnny G, and his business partner, John Baudhuin, take up swimming -- in cash.

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1992: Low-Fat Lunacy

SnackWell's zero-fat cookies are introduced; many munchers mistake no fat for no calories or consequences. The "SnackWell effect" comes to mean consumers gorging on "light" products, eating more than they would have if they had stuck with the regular stuff.

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1993: Infomercial Mania

Mesmerized by watching Suzanne Somers open and close her thighs, exercisers buy $2.6 billion worth of fitness equipment -- a 24 percent spike in sales over the previous year. By 2007 the Ab Roller alone will have raked in a billion bucks.

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1993: iPod's Great Granddad

The Sony Walkman, a comparatively bulky brick of a cassette player, becomes the way to listen on the go, helping runners everywhere drown out the sound of their own panting. First introduced in 1979, Sony put out the screaming yellow sports version in 1982.

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1993: Supermodel Workout

Cindy Crawford showcases her rockin' bod in her second and highly lucrative workout video, Cindy Crawford: The Next Challenge Workout. Nineteen years later, it's still a five-star pick on Amazon.

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1994: Pony Up

Years after its invention, the ubiquitous Scrunchie is officially patented. Alas, in 2003 it will be snarkily relegated to fashion history on Sex and the City, when Carrie accurately deems the fabric pony holder "so over."

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1994: One Giant Leap for Gym Machines

Precor produces the first elliptical trainer, which will ultimately become a low-impact high-calorie-burn health club staple.

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1996: Spandex Sabbatical

Bye-bye, bodysuit! The last cover of FITNESS to show one is released this year, ceding its reign to an era of bikinis.

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1996: B-Girl Breakthrough

The WNBA is founded -- recognition that women can hold court. Girls rejoice and develop fitness dreams that are bigger than the ability to wear a two-piece. The first game will tip off the following year.

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1996: Hot in Atlanta

The Magnificent Seven bring home the first-ever gold for the USA Gymnastics team at the Summer Olympics.

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1997: Danger Drug

Fenfluramine -- half of Fen-Phen, the supposed magic weight-loss drug, along with phentermine -- is yanked from the market after evidence of serious heart valve problems crops up. Drug manufacturers will lose a lot -- $13 billion from their wallets.

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1997: Winning Points

Weight Watchers drops confusing "exchanges" in favor of a simple points system, making it easier for women to lose pounds without losing their marbles.

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1997: Beverage Bravado

Red Bull, the caffeine-, amino acid- and vitamin B-laced drink that keeps club kids cranking around the world, explodes in popularity in the United States. By 2012 the company will have a reported 40 percent share of the multibillion-dollar energy drink market.

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1997: Bikini Barrier Broken!

Tyra Banks becomes the first African-American model to appear solo on the career-making Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue cover.

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1998: Having a Ball

The Hoppity Hops you bounced on as a kid lose the horse-head handle and bounce into gyms and even offices, where workers multitask a core workout while tapping away at the keyboard.

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1998: Bringing Sexy Back to Sports

Nike airs the iconic "Evolution of Skin" Super Bowl ad. (That's Gabby Reece!)

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1999: Kicking Butt

Tae Bo, a martial arts and aerobics hybrid, officially becomes a phenomenon, moving 1.5 million videos.

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1999: Moves Like Jagger

The video game Dance Dance Revolution comes to the United States, motivating millions to shake what their mamas gave them to burn countless calories and turning the TV into a fitness friend, not foe.

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1999: Bra-Baring Victory!

When the U.S. Women's soccer team wins the FIFA Women's World Cup, forward Brandi Chastain rips off her jersey and falls to her knees in exhilaration, stirring a minor controversy to boot.

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1999: Zoning In

Jennifer Aniston's slender thumbs-up does for the Zone Diet what the Rachel did for hair after she reportedly slims on Dr. Barry Sears' plan.

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2000: Subway Fare

Jared Fogle, a 400-plus-pound student at Indiana University in Bloomington, credits his massive weight loss to eating 2,000 calories worth of Subway food daily. The company puts him on the payroll and TV, showing him holding his 60-inch-waist pants.

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2001: Dance Revolution, Take Two

Zumba, a Colombian import, hits the United States. Instead of counting boring reps, exercisers now dance in a calorie-torching wild fitness party.

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2001: iRock

Apple introduces iTunes and its first iPod. Soon to follow are podcasts of fitness classes and personal-training sessions. By 2010, 275 million iPods will have been sold.

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2002: Haute Yoga

Supermodel and yogini Christy Turlington appears on the cover of Vogue in a silver Calvin Klein gown and a dhanurasana (bow pose), making the 5,000-year-old practice officially chic.

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2003: McRoughage

Mickey D's plops salads down on its menu alongside the Big Mac, giving rushed but well-intentioned eaters a healthier, lower-calorie alternative -- provided they forgo the side of fries.

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2003: Thin-spiration

Miami-based cardiologist Arthur Agatston, MD, publishes The South Beach Diet, which contends that no food is evil but that there are "good" carbs and fats. The book will spend nearly four years on the best-seller list.

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2004: Losing to Win

The Biggest Loser premieres; obese people compete to drop pounds while being screamed at by beautiful tough-love trainer Jillian Michaels, all in the name of better health and megabucks.

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2004: 12-Step Program

P90X by Tony Horton, a 12-DVD home personal training workout, is released, and hot bodies like Demi Moore's help turn it into a sensation. About four million copies of the program will be sold through 2011; the sequel, P90X2, will debut in December 2011.

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2004: Using Rubbers

The Lance Armstrong Foundation starts selling yellow stretch bracelets to raise cash for cancer research and support. By the next year, 55 million will be sold and people's wrists will display a rainbow of worthy causes.

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2005: Fancy Fitness

Designer Stella McCartney pairs up with Adidas to launch workout wear with a couture price tag. Reebok and Emporio Armani will also get on it in 2010, making the gym a bit easier on the eyes.

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2005: Star Slim-Down

In what becomes the best way for B- and C-listers to lose weight and gain fame, Dancing with the Stars premieres on ABC. Chubby rug cutters rhumba their way to a smaller size.

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2006: Right Track

Madonna reignites tracksuit cool by making a retro look her get-to-the-gym uniform.

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2007: Star Treks

A-listers catch on to the endurance-sports craze as Katie Holmes runs the New York City Marathon. Jennifer Lopez and Teri Hatcher will compete in triathlons within the next two years.

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2008: Wii Not?

Wii Fit is launched, prompting exercisers to create little avatar workout buddies so sweating it out at home is more fun and less lonely.

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2010: Routine Reboot

Jane Fonda, whose first workout video sparked the aerobics and leg warmer craze in 1982, returns with two titles for the senior set.

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2011: Form Follows Function

Boot camp-style CrossFit, an alternative to working out your parts la carte, attains a new level of popularity.

Originally published in FITNESS magazine, May 2012.

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