No single decade in recent memory has a monopoly on style. Or questionable exercise methods.
A new video, "The History of Exercise," stars Nick Offerman and Michelle Obama looking back on past—and present—contraptions for working out, as a way to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the President's Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition.
Funny or Die and SS+K created the video for the government health organization and the First Lady's anti-childhood obesity campaign, "Lets Move!" It's not just about chuckling at dubious gym tools, though. Each era features period fashion and music, as Offerman gradually shape-shifts from mid-century garb and soundtrack to a more current ensemble.
In the 1950s, it's a vibrating belt, baggy matching sweats and Little Eva's "The Locomotion" (though, in a memo from the department of pedantry, that was technically released in 1962). In the 1960s, it's electrical muscle stimulation, a yellow turtleneck with loose khaki shorts and the Beach Boys' 1965 rendition of "Barbara Ann" (a song first released by the Regents in 1961).
In the 1970s, it's a rowing machine, a red-white-and-blue headband with too-small beige jacket and itty-bitty red shorts and the Bee Gees' 1976 track "You Should Be Dancing." In the 1980s, its a ThighMaster, a pastel spandex unitard and Olivia Newton-John's 1981 hit "Physical." (Offerman's outfit is a hilariously precise nod to Newton-John's from the original video for that song.)
In the 1990s, it's an ab wheel, a mesh shirt with tribal pants and a fanny pack and Cher's 1998 earworm "Believe." In the 2000s, it's that pinnacle of embarrassing accoutrement, the ShakeWeight, tinted sunglasses with cargo pants and Pink's 2001 rager-cliché anthem "Get the Party Started."
In the present day, it's a medicine ball, a fitted synthetic shirt with simple black shorts and One Direction's 2015 song "Drag Me Down." Because that's apparently what people work out to, these days.
Actress Megan Mullaly, Offerman's wife, also gets a cameo—as the electrode-wielding nurse in the '60s bit. There's even a little bit of plot. Offerman, dejected after suffering through a slapstick routine with his '80s gear, gets a motivational boost from a thought-bubble Michelle Obama, who also throws a shout out to Mullaly. (And in a fun little twist, it turns out the First Lady is actually sitting right next to him, lifting weights.)
The team shot the 2:30 video at the White House in the South Court auditorium. Appearing under the hashtag #0to60, the clip is part of a broader campaign to encourage physical activity that also includes a new app and website with fitness and nutrition tips. It's ultimately on point—no matter the approach, the important thing is doing something to stay healthy.
That should be a relief, because it means you can leave behind the infomercial gear and just go for a run, or a swim, or a bike ride.
President's Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition
Executive Director – Shellie Pfohl
National Foundation on Fitness, Sports, & Nutrition
Executive Director – Chris Watts
Partner, Co-Founder – Rob Shepardson
Partner, Chief Creative Officer – Bobby Hershfield
SVP, Director of Production & Innovation – John Swartz
Executive Producer – Christopher McLallen
Music Producer – Patrick Oliver
Marketing Director – Amit Nizan
Account Coordinator – Jason Fishkin
Production Company – Funny Or Die
Director – Bryan Madole
Producers – Christian Heuer & Sean Boyle
Executive Producers – Brad Jenkins & Michael Burke
Director of Photography – Paul Rondeau
B-Cam Op – Brian Wengrofsky
1st AC – Josh Lawson
Gaffer – Chad Dougherty
Key Grip – Sam Barth
Swing – Glenn Porter
Production Designer – Tricia Robertson
Art Director – Ellie del Campo
Art Assistant – Stefanie Yoselle
Wardrobe Stylist – Michelle Thompson
Make Up Artist – Meghan Turner
Sound Mixer – Brian Garfield
Associate Producer – Jessy Morner-Ritt
Production Assistant – Andrew Cook
Editors – Kevin Mead & Adriana Robles