Fitness. The art of sculpting one’s self to become the best at a particular physical discipline. Since the days of Sparta, the strong warrior has been hailed the image closest to God. The women of Rome paid handsome sums to lay down with the Gladiators of the day, whose sporting fame rivaled '60s sporting gods Bobby Moore, or Johnny “Tarzan” Weismuller.
So how did the man of 1963 keep himself trim? As part of FHM Vintage, we track down the health regime that every well-mannered, hat-wearing young rake was putting himself through as rationing slowly became a bad memory…
TOP TEN LIST
1/ Train with… jogging
To run in public, along the very thoroughfare, would seem an absurd suggestion as an answer to the question of how to find good health. But apparently it’s been happening for the last two years as viable training methods for boxers and long distance track athletes under the name of ‘roadwork’. It has evolved into a sport in itself to the islanders of New Zealand, conceivably as a less boring alternative to constant sheep ‘farming’.
Despite its silly appearance - and the likelihood of being tackled by a bobby if you’re seen running from the shops - it does appear to help one in the endeavor to achieve athletic excellence. Cassius Clay adopted just this method of training to win his gold medal at the Summer Olympics in Rome of 1960 and smash Doug Jones.
2/ Train with… the pneumatic trampoline
Jumping for a firmer frame or just hopping mad? The image above is taken from a patent registered at the start of 1962 by an intrepid inventor who fancies himself the savior of working men everywhere. The claim is that simply jumping, like a child at play, can grant a man greater strength and endurance during physical activities. We can’t imagine Dr. No’s James Bond using the device but we are reassured it’s not about the look but the results.
3/ Aspire to… Bobby Moore
The West Ham captain shows you how to be as strong as him on the pitch. As Pelé pointed out, Moore is fairest footballer around. He doesn’t fling himself into tackles like other defenders but rather, calculates the state of play and commits himself with great accuracy. This technique is invaluable in all forms of exercise. Find the problem – be it too much weight, heavy breathing after training, or simply an inability to get off the couch. Then apply exact techniques to deal with that issue – eat less dessert, take up jogging, or make sure to take a walk with the wife more regularly, if patience permits. Remember it’s never too late – Moore himself only got his late call to the England side in 1962.
TaB, the first diet soda was released in 1963 by the Coca-Cola company. It is part of the new school of thought that thinks too much sugar can make you fat. Elvis proved too much eating can lead to a bloated, bowel bursting demise. So how do you avoid a similar fate? Doctors recommend cutting down on sugar, animal fats (lovely butter!) and too much red meat. So all the good things then. One German doctor by the name of Schmidt believes cold weather keeps your weight down too, so less clothes ladies if you want a wonderful waistline.
Is the thought of stripping down to your costume to dive into a cold lake for a swim stopping you from keeping fit? Fear not, as indoor pools are fast becoming commonplace in 1963. Heated. That’s right, there’s no excuse to avoid the waters now. And after Ursula Andress showed us in Dr. No the potential of the bikini – the poolside is the place to be, not just to get in shape. Did we mention they were council funded too? The telephone operator about your local pool today.
6/ The skateboard
The latest trend from across the pond involved getting a bit of a wood and some rickety wheels. The ‘sport’ was dubbed ‘sidewalk surfing’ and involved balancing on a thin piece of wood with four wheels attached to it. Despite it sounding like a madman’s mode of transport and being near impossible to boot, it proved rather popular in California for surfers during down time. Will it be popular worldwide or simply sink beneath the waves of time? Comments below please.
7/ The gymnasium
Lifting weighted devices to build ones physique was once a pastime for bodybuilders alone. But in 1963, plans for nationwide gymnasiums accessible to the public were put into motion by Gold’s Gym who opened their first chain in 1965. In the style of the Roman gladiators or Greek warriors, the common man had access to equipment that will make him look like Johnny Weismuller himself. The Tarzan actor was one of the first to claim weights as the source of his muscular, lady-magnetic physique – and he was right.
8/ Aspire to… Charles Bronson
How do you get a lean, toned body like actor Charles Bronson? After shooting to fame in The Great Escape, the Bronson build became legend. The key was isometrics, a new fitness technique that employed static (fixed) strength exercises. Sound boring? It was. But that was the price to pay for a look that will have you beating away the lady suitors. Simply lock your muscles either pushing against a wall or lying face down holding yourself up by your hands for as long as possible. Warning: it’s not easy – unlike Charles Bronson’s attempts to get the ladies.
In 1963, the most practiced exercise of all time became acceptable to talk about. Sex. And the more you know about it, the better it can be for you. Trying different positions with your partner helps exercise different areas of the body and can actually get you in shape. Whoever said “no pain, no gain”? Running out of positions? Remember the words of Alfred Kinsey: "The only unnatural sexual act is that which you cannot perform." For more on this see our section on the Karma Sutra.
10/ Cricket re-born
Mad dogs and Englishmen out in the midday sun: a memorable saying built about our British obsession with cricket. Until the 1960s the game’s length has stopped many busy gentlemen from enjoying the sport. Until now. One-day cricket began with the Gillette Cup knock-out tournament: just like normal cricket but with a limited number of overs. Thus keeping in shape with a great British tradition became possible, with time to still take in a cigarette and a pint of Macksons in lengthy lunch breaks.