Weight loss was not always an issue. Having a look at how the market has evolved throughout the years we can also have a clue about society’s needs and the changes across human history. The wonderful example of running machines and how they used to work in the past gives us a deep understanding of how the industry has adjusted to people’s demands. Marketing, after all, seems to obey our rules, and perhaps it is not the other way round.
The first running machine was not a weight loss machine
In 1818 in England, engineer William Cubitt created the first running machine. It was not intended for a gymnastic instrument – the thought was that it could be “buttoned up” and connected to other machines e.g. a grinding machine, or a power-generating machine, etc. In other words, people would walk or run on that to produce energy. Since this seemed like a boring job, the idea was that prisoners would do that. In this way, the prisoners would both exercise but also be able to generate energy or other things so that the prisons could become organizations that fund themselves.
Perfect alliance with today’s conditions
You see, apart from scientific discovery, it was also a business idea. Considering that prisons in the United States nowadays are institutions that produce wealth, we understand how this idea at the point was the beginning of all. Today’s approach towards prisons does not come out of the blue. And it is not about our approach towards prisons but actually about marketing.
Today’s running machines are supposed to be used to help us be fit but in reality, they are producing millions of dollars in the fitness industry every year. It is not just the money that is being spent to buy them but also the money that is invested in the gyms every month by people all around the world who want to lose weight. This invention was considered to be a means to produce wealth back then and it practically serves the same purpose today.
The machine was honestly a hit…unfortunately
These first types of treadmills were not electric, they only operated with human power; kind of like trying to balance on a rolling roller. This invention became a huge hit and it is said that within 25-30 years it existed in almost half the prisons of England, Wales, and Scotland. Unfortunately, they used it mainly punitively, as they may have forced prisoners to “run” for 10 consecutive hours.
The result was that each week they had at least one death recorded. Human life was not so important at the time. Death was only a part of life and births used to occur much more frequently. The circle of life was similar to the circle of life for other animals. Remember that humans never hesitated to kill an animal and at this point, it seems they were not hesitant about killing a human as well. Over the next few decades, its use, fortunately, declined until in the early 1900s it stopped being used. Some decades later, it was “resurrected”, improved and began to be used as a fitness instrument.
First time in history we care about our weight
However, if we want to think of perhaps the most tremendous fact about this story this would have to do with how people react to products. Never before in the history of human civilization was it such a great issue for someone to be thin. The main problem traditionally was to find a way to produce as much and as quickly as possible. Every invention, discovery, or innovation would have to be in some way related to this ultimate purpose. Today this issue is more or less resolved.
Production is fast and easy and the problem is that we have so much food, clothes, etc. that we have ended up overconsuming. The direct result of it is that we gain weight. The less we have to struggle for survival, the fewer calories we burn. If you think about it, people in the past would have to work hard to find food and we just try to find a way to stop eating. If this is not a serious change then what is?
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