The next time you’re doing cardio, consider yourself lucky.

Today’s gymgoers have a multitude of clothing options that maximize performance and style. That wasn’t the case years ago.

In fact, women in the 1800s exercised in corsets and flow dresses. Talk about making life difficult!

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According to Atlas Obscura, women in that era exercised in order to get the blood flowing. After all, it wasn’t possible to do any heavy lifting with their bodies constricted by corsets.

It’s funny to look at the literature from that time. While modern-day females participate in a variety of exercise styles, back then, they had limited options. Signor Gp. Voarino’s A Treatise on Calisthenic Exercises suggested skipping, walking in zigzags, marching in place, and even bending your arms and legs at certain angles as ideal ways for women to work out.

To Voarino, the light calisthenic exercises were meant for “counteracting every tendency to deformity, and for obviating such defects of figure as are occasioned by confinement within doors, too close an application to sedentary employment, or by those constrained positions which young ladies habitually assume during their hours of study.”

Of course, as times have changed, so have workout attire. And along with that, exercise recommendations.

Catharine Beecher published a book of her own about 30 years after Voarino. Phyical and Calisthenics for Schools and Families marked a shift toward incorporating exercises for children.

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The author’s book did depict women exercising in dresses, though she didn’t support the corset movement. Luckily those are no longer considered fashionable. Instead, you can just kick up the intensity on the elliptical to get the same breathless effect.

What’s your preferred workout attire? What makes it a good choice for you?

Tell us more in the comments below!