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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at TAMU chapter.

I am a self-described gym girl; I usually go to the gym at least 5 times a week. And when I’m not in the gym? I’m usually scrolling through fitness pages for motivation. Most of the women fitness influencers I see on my feed are what one may call a “Muscle Mommy”. These women have dedicated themselves to a lean but incredibly muscular body. While doing my daily scrolling I came across an old jazzercise video. This got me thinking about how women’s fitness has evolved. So come with me as I explore women’s fitness through the ages and how we ended up at the muscle mommy.

Looking Backwards

1920s: Indoor Exercise

We see a slight shift in the 20s with more of an emphasis on cardio. Women were encouraged to exercise indoors with bodyweight exercises and light barbells. While there was more chatter about female fitness, women still did all their exercises in normal dresses.

1930s – 60s The Birth of Exercise Classes

Moving into the thirties, the trend of cardio-focused activities such as walking, swimming, and dancing continued. This also marked the beginning of fitness classes, specifically the concept of a cycling class. It was marketed as a way for women to keep their slim figures while staying feminine. Women were encouraged to not sweat in public, despite this. This also marked the beginning of women’s athletic wear.

1970s – 2000s The Era of the Sports Bra

In 1977 the sports bra was invented by Polly Smith, Hinda Smith, and Lisa Lindahl. These three women opened the door for a revolution in women’s fitness. The taboo of sweat lost its luster and the era of dance as exercise began to take over. This type of aerobic work took off with Ms. Jane Fonda and her workout videos in the 80’s. This aerobic fitness came with diet culture, which did bring some awareness to the importance food has within fitness but has overall had a rather negative impact.

2010s CrossFit Frenzy

The 2010s was the beginning of the trend of women entering the weight room. While not as full force as the muscle culture we’re currently in, this entrance de-stigmatized the strength of women. The overall stereotype seen before CrossFit was of dainty women who love cardio and celery. CrossFit required that cardio-loving attitude, but allowed women to explore their desire to be strong.

The muscle mommy

Before the 2020s, we did see women dabbling in heavy weights but that was nothing compared to the degree that we see now. Recently, women have been trading in their bright pink, two-pound weights and juice cleanses for heavy-weight belts and creatine. For the best example of a muscle mommy, you can look toward the social media fitness influencer Lean Beef Patty. This amazing young woman takes the format of old workout videos and adapts them to social media and modern fitness standards. Instead of focusing on getting skinny, Patty shows young women how strong they can become in a relatable style. She also makes diet content that focuses less on how much you eat, and more on what is good for you.

So what’s the big deal?

Women of the past exercised for very different reasons than we do now. The culture around fitness has had such a negative impact that we still see ripples of it today. This emergence of Muscle culture in female spaces opens a door for our community to begin healing through self-love and self-confidence. Embracing the strength of the female body and accepting movements toward healthy relationships with food is the future of female fitness and the Muscle Mommies are at the forefront of that fight.

Phoenix Hill is a Her Campus writer at Texas A&M University in College Station. She writes about fitness, film and tv, and politics. Beyond HerCampus, she is a sophomore political science and anthropology major working toward graduate school. She participates in the Anthropological Society at her University and is a recipient of the National Hispanic Recognition Scholarship. You can find her in the gym strength training when she isn’t attending lectures or club meetings. She loves all things fantasy and plays DND on the weekends. Her favorite genre of music is Folk Indie and you can find her taking in live music on Saturday nights.