Fitness in ’63January 18, 2011 at 5:22 AM | Posted in Fitness, Growing up | 6 Comments
Tags: Bud Wilkinson, President Kennedy
While re-arranging my bookshelves I came across the U.S. Official Physical Fitness Program which was published in 1963. You can see to the left the then famous cover with the portrait of President Kennedy.
The paperback book is just 64 pages and is, as people used to say then, chock-full of exercises and advice. Surely today, the same content would fill 200 pages. It cost 50 cents.
The book opens with a Presidential Message and then moves to discuss what is to us basic but would have been news back then. I can with confidence say that by the time I was 13 years old, in 1963, I had never seen an adult exercise, outside of professional sports. It is hard to exercise while smoking Luckys.
Early on there are some touching moments: “A reassuring word about muscles. As you make use of the program in the following pages, you need have no fear of becoming heavily, unattractively muscled.” This, addressed to the ladies.
Both the women’s and men’s program have 5 levels detailed with pictures, instructions and suggested repetitions. You would recognize all the exercises and the program would work well today. It is as solid as was Bud Wilkinson, the famous football coach of Oklahoma, who directed the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and prepared the book.
There is even a section on Isometrics which was new and all the rage back then. My therapy for my rotator cuff injury utilizes a form of isometrics, although now clothed as “Muscle Activation Techniques.”
Back then, when the President said to start exercising, many of us did. When he said we would go to the moon, men started climbing. The U.S. was just climbing out of the afraid-of-our-shadow, bomb shelter era then. President Kennedy had that kind of effect on us.