From Peloton to Soul Cycle to Tae Bo, why we fall for fitness fads

Peloton is the new Tae Bo is the new Thighmaster. Why do we approach fitness as consumers?

When Tae Bo was all the rage in the late 1990s, Amanda Biers Melcher dove in head first. Living in LA, she says she’s tried “all of the workouts” — cardio barre, Bikram yoga when it was the (literally) hot thing, etc. But there was something special about the martial arts-inspired cardio fitness craze.

Biers Melcher was part of star instructor Billy Blanks’ “cult-like following” who worked out at a Sherman Oaks studio — now a Chipotle — alongside A-listers like Brooke Shields, Reese Witherspoon, and Magic Johnson, even appearing in one of the workout videos. The day she and a friend — both new moms — showed up for a class taping they’d been invited to, some of the excitement wore off. “We gave our names to the young woman with a clipboard and she said, ‘Oh, good, the alternative body types are here,’” she says, recalling that her friend burst out crying when they realized what was going on. “We were the fat girls in the video.”

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Despite the embarrassing mishap, Biers Melcher stayed loyal to the workout … until she didn’t. Looking back, she’s not quite sure why she stopped going — at some point, the fad just sort of faded. “A lot of people just moved on,” she says. “Everyone does what’s hot, then something else becomes hot, and everyone does that.”