Women In Sport - a brief history

In evolutionary terms women have been ‘gatherers’ who raised children, gathered food, and carried loads of water and firewood.  They usually stayed closer to home while the men ran and stalked and hunted, and occasionally brought home a load of protein.  Women squatted to wash clothes, tend fires and eliminate body wastes. Women were fit, active and busy.  

Throughout history women had a limited involvement in sport and were not permitted to participate in the Olympic Games until 1900. The  first 19 women  to compete in the modern Olympics Games in Paris, France, played in just Iree sports: tennis, golf, and croquet.  These were permitted because of their slow nature and the women could remain fully enclothed. When bicycling was taken up by women it required loose and non-restrictive clothing without a corset.  So rather than fashion freeing women from their corset prison, it was actually physical exercise.

In 1962 women’s Slimnastics", a physical fitness program, with supervised exercises and calisthenics ran in high school gyms in the USA.   In 1963 Goodrich introduced an exercise mat for women to use with home exercise. The Slim Gym was introduced in 1970 for a home workout routine. The YMCA offered women’s jogging and aqua gym programs. Women’s health clubs with sauna, whirlpool, gym and exercise rooms opened. Exercise classes to music became popular and Step Reebok was introduced in 1989 at squash courts and gymnasiums. Today’s developing fitness trend is to deliver a workout experience showcasing fitness apparel and footwear, for example Reebok and Cirque du Soleil have launched a 'Fit to Fly' workshop on a trapeze bar suspended from the ceiling!

Click to view an abbreviated version of the history of women in sport or the full history.