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This month of March is Women’s History Month and Merritt Clubs celebrates the talent, hard work and genius of its female staff members and the women who came before us and blazed a trail.


In the history of fitness, several women largely contributed in the progress of the industry and to get us to where we are today. Here are just a few of the many, many ladies who have helped us live healthier lives.

Jane Fonda

Ever tried an online workout class? You can thank Jane Fonda for that. At a time when gyms were populated mostly with men, the Oscar-winning actress brought exercising to homes with the release of Jane Fonda’s Workout Video in 1982. It became one of the best-selling home videos of all time.

Workout videos have become increasingly popular since, especially the past 2 years with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Michelle Obama

She got our kids moving, helped make healthy foods more accessible, introduced a nutrition policy in school lunches, pushed for updated nutrition labels to show more transparency with sugar… the list goes on when it comes to the work the former first lady did for a healthier America.

Through her Let’s Move campaign, Michelle Obama helped start the conversation on obesity and sought for a way to prevent it by focusing on the younger Americans. In addition to promoting healthier eating, the then-FLOTUS encouraged students all over the country to get physically active. Millions and millions of kids took part and benefited from the programs she spearheaded.

Lisa Lindahl, Polly Palmer-Smith and Hinda Miller

Ladies need all the support they can get. Thank God for Lisa, Polly and Hinda, the inventors of the sports bra.

Tired of feeling discomfort when running, in 1977 Lisa Lindahl sought the help of costume designer Polly Palmer Smith and Hinda Miller in sewing together two jockstraps. Thus, the JogBra was born. This groundbreaking invention has encouraged more women to get active through sports and exercise due to the support and comfort it provides.

And 22 years later, Brandi Chastain and her sports bra became an iconic symbol of triumph for the United States.

Kathrine Switzer

Imagine running a marathon and out of nowhere somebody grabs you to try to pull you off the course. That’s what happened to Kathrine Switzer in 1967 as she became the first woman to officially run in the Boston Marathon.

After being told “No woman can run the Boston Marathon” by her trainer, Kathrine worked extremely hard to prepare for it. On April 19, 1967, even after an unfortunate distraction of a race official trying to stop her from running, Kathrine Switzer finished the Boston Marathon and became an inspiration to many women.

Five years later, the Boston Marathon started accepting female runners.

Lotte Berk

After fleeing Nazi Germany, the trained ballerina moved to London and developed a type of exercise that uses ballet to focus on certain areas of the body for strength and flexibility training. Through the years this evolved and inspired the modern day Barre, a popular workout in studios and gyms like Merritt.

There are many other women who have made their dent in the history of fitness, too much to list all of them here. Even more are the women who have inspired each of us to live healthy, active lives. And for all of these ladies, we owe a debt of gratitude.

Happy Women’s History Month and Happy International Women’s Day from all of us at Merritt Clubs!