Let's Get Physical #10: Fitness from a Catalog (Part 2)

For the past three million years, storing calories as fat has been a life saver.  For the past handful of decades, it has been a bitter pain in the ass.... and a multi-billion dollar industry.  In every 1970s Sears, Montgomery Ward and JC Penney's catalog you're guaranteed to find pages upon pages of "answers" to our weight problems.

Little did they know that these devices would do precious little toward solving our dilemma.  Indeed, compared to the 70s, we are significantly fatter.  One statistic puts us at eating 15 pounds more sugar a year than an average American in 1970.   There's simply no comparison between restaurant portion sizes today and, say, 1975.  We eat way more and exercise way less. A bad trend by anyone's measure.

Well, you can't fault Sears and Penney's for trying to make a buck on the crisis.  Here's a continuation from the last post with another load of "answers" to our body issues.  Enjoy.

Care for some phenylpropanolamine? How about a nitrogen-substituted amphetamine analog? If your doc couldn't prescribe you some straight up amphetamines (i.e. speed), Sears catalog was the next best place to look.  These would all be illegal as over the counter drugs today.  If a brand name survived through to today, you can bet it has changed its ingredients.

The Slimmers Glove System is one of my faves.  You literally apply the magic cream, slip on a glove and start buffing!

I think you'll enjoy this next one.  I wanted to save it for last, but couldn't wait...

Believe it or not, these big ridiculous looking shorts were fairly popular.  You see these things advertised in tons of magazines and here in catalogs.

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you The Prone Cycle.

The Lounger/Exerciser reads: "Light enough for a woman to move."

The woman in the next image looks like she's having waaaaay to much fun with this thing.  Those amphetamine derivative diet pills may have started to kick in.  That, or this machine has uses beyond just rowing.

Nothing wrong with a slanted board, I guess.  However, these are pretty pricey.  Accounting for inflation, The Slender Bender with Ball Bearings below would be over three hundred dollars today!  You can get a fairly nice slant board on Amazon for about sixty bucks.

Here's a product you don't see advertised anymore - a pill to put the weight on.  You used to see these all the time in magazines.  If there ever was a product destined to go out of business, this is it.

Exactly how this next product will give you bigger boobs is beyond me.  Am I missing something?

The Beauty Breast (below) is another casualty of the silicone revolution that would sprout up a few years later.  Just apply cream and pump - big healthy boobs are in your future!  For those multi-taskers, I recommend pumping the Beauty Breast in one hand and buffing with the Slimmer's Glove on the other.

Okay, one more round of fitness catalog posts to go.  The next one will be full page catalog scans.


  1. Bust developers, it seems, were quite popular in the late 60s/early 70s. There was a company called Feather that made the Mark Eden Breast Developer. It has the distinction of being one of the first businesses to be flagged by the USPS for mail fraud. Feather also made Slim-Jeans, Sauna Belt and the Astro-Trimmer.

    Scams and diet pills aside, our overfed, unhealthy nation could benefit from a fitness obsession/revolution.

  2. Our nation could benefit from an education about other reasons people might be fat besides over eating. Like Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), allergies - yes, allergies can make you fat, medications that make you put on weight, thyroid disorders, etc.

    My mom had a friend who weighed over 400 pounds. The doctors kept telling her she was just a lazy pig. Finally a doctor looked at her rather than yelling at her. He found a tumor wrapped around her thyroid.

    Sorry, the fat shaming thing always gets me on my soapbox. Having weight problems due to both PCOS and self esteem issues due to being bullied and sexually assaulted when I was younger I hate the assumption that every single person is fat just because "they eat too much and are lazy." That is NOT always the case.

    As for the equipment shown, many of these things still exist just with different names. Like the Ablounge. Everything old is new again.

    I always wanted one of those machines with the belt that shakes you. Not because I think they work, they just look like they'd be fun.

  3. There must be something in the blogger water this week. I also happened to touch on an aspect of the fitness craze this week:


  4. The woman in the full-body yellow-orangish leotard riding the prone cycle is hot!

  5. "We must, we must, we must increase our bust! The bigger the better, the tighter the sweater, the boys depend on us!" If anything, those bust developers would probably shrink them by reducing the fat, wouldn't they? Possibly make them a little perkier if they were used enough to make the pecs firmer? But I don't see how they could create giant Playboy tits when they're starting with an A cup.

  6. AnonymousJuly 02, 2012

    I think the benefit for the bust developer was for any guy watching it being used.