Before Jillian, Debbie Whipped You Into Shape

Dear Friends,

In our Charm School lesson on Wednesday, I mentioned that Mr. Powers encourages us to exercise so that our skin will be firm and youthful.  Lindsey wondered in the comments what exercise was like during the mid-20th-century.

Boot Camp The Royal Canadian Air Force Way Created by Bill Orban in the late 1950s at the request of the RCAF, the 5BX (for men)  and XBX (for women) progressive programs (start slowly and then increase intensity) could be completed in about 10 minutes without the need for any equipment.  The program also encourages people to get some sort of aerobic exercise by hiking or playing sports.  You can get the exercises for free at Fit for Fifty or buy used copies of the original book for pennies less than $10 online  (as of publication of this post) at places like and  Don’t forget to check your local used bookstore and yard sales, too!  This book sold millions of copies and they are floating around.

Royal Canadian Air Force Exercise Book Cover

Royal Canadian Air Force Exercise Book Cover


Jack LaLanne: The Godfather of Fitness  Sadly, Jack LaLanne has become known more for his juicing machines than his contributions to physical fitness.  There is a good possibility that the equipment you are using at the gym was originally created by Mr. LaLanne.  He opened the first health club in Oakland, CA, in 1936 and designed the first leg extension machines, pulley machines, and weight selectors.  His television show hit the airwaves in 1951 and millions of homemakers tuned in every day to exercise with him and learn about health and nutrition.  He strongly felt that the health of the United States depended upon the physical and mental health of its citizens.  You can learn more about him and buy several DVD’s featuring his show by visiting the Jack LaLanne website.  Here Mr. LaLanne talks about “Uphill or Downhill.”

Debbie Drake’s How to Keep Your Husband Happy Not nearly as famous as Jack LaLanne, Debbie Drake was also an early television exercise pioneer with a daily 15 minute show, debuting in 1960 and staying on the air until 1978, that taught homemakers the Easy Way to a Perfect Figure and Glowing Health.  She first published Easy Way in 1961 and then went on to record a couple of exercise albums, including How to Keep Your Husband Happy.  The video below is an entire episode.  Don’t fool yourselves…she makes them look easy but you are actually working hard!

Click here if the video player doesn’t work for you

There was a time when I was exclusively using these old school exercises and I really enjoyed them.  But there was a part of me that felt like I needed to kill myself in order to get into shape.  The problem is that when I go for Jillian Michaels-type workouts I always end up hurting myself (I’m currently recovering from a pulled groin muscle) and then what good is that?

What are your favorite “old school” workouts?

To your healthy and fit Technicolor Life!

Dr. Julie-Ann