Nick Offerman and Michelle Obama Take You Through Six Decades of Exercise Fads

With soundtracks to match

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

Agency: SS+K

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

@GabrielBeltrone Gabriel Beltrone is a frequent contributor to Adweek.