Then and Now: 20 Years of Oxygen

The November/December 2017 issue marks Oxygen's 20th anniversary. Celebrate with us as we look back to look forward!
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WHEN DO YOU REMEMBER SEEING OXYGEN FOR THE FIRST TIME?

“It was in 1997. I had only done a few fitness competitions and was reading all the bodybuilding magazines to learn anything I could about competition diets and training. Social media wasn’t around yet and the only way to learn was from magazines. I was immediately obsessed with Oxygen and read every word at least twice. I’d even read the cracks of the pages to see who was the photographer and who did the hair and makeup for every layout! Oxygen was the only magazine that showed strong girls working out hard. I was so tired of the “girly” fitness magazines with the pink dumbbells. I wanted to lift hard and heavy and see my muscles.”

— Kim Lyons, owner of Bionic Body (bionicbody.com) in Hermosa Beach, California, and three-time cover model (See Kim as our model in the November/December 2017 issue.)

“Oxygen was my trainer. I didn’t have a coach or anything, and nothing was digital yet, so magazines were where we got information. To this day, I still love magazines and Oxygen — it is where I started and is part of what helps me and motivates me. I still have a lot of those early magazines and can look at them and remember how I felt at that time — what I was training for, what was inspiring.”

— Amanda Latona Kuclo, four-time cover model (See Amanda’s cover story in the November/December 2017 issue.)

I remember seeing Oxygen magazine when I was in college. I was running track and had basically just discovered muscles. I remember reading the meathead magazines for guys, but there really wasn’t anything that catered to fit girls. So when I flipped through the pages of Oxygen, I was in awe. It was life-changing and empowering.

— Erin Stern, six-time cover model and 2015 Oxygen Challenge coach

“I first saw Oxygen magazine back in 2003. I remember being so taken with how incredibly healthy and fit the models looked, and the magazine embodied what a fit, healthy and beautiful woman looked like to me. It paved the way for what many people find attractive today — that a woman can have visible muscle tone and be fit yet still feminine at the same time.”

— Jamie Eason Middleton, 2017 Oxygen Challenge coach and nine-time cover model

“I remember the premiere issue of Oxygen with Vicky Pratt in 1997. It was exciting — finally someone considered us worthy of having our own magazine. Thank you, Bob Kennedy!”

— Monica Brant, seven-time cover model

“I first saw Oxygen when I was a young personal trainer. A client brought it in and told me she wanted abs like the cover model. I remember thinking: I want abs like the cover model, too! then also, I’m not sure I can give them to my client!

“The magazine was both inspiring and challenging, and I remember poring through it eagerly to gather new exercises and strategies for my clients. The few women’s health and fitness magazines that were out at the time either seemed to target bodybuilders or advertise slender women with hardly any muscle waving around 2-pound weights in complicated dance moves. I liked Oxygen because it actually showed real workouts with moves I could do in the gym and featured models with muscle.”

— Erin Calderone, MS, CSCS, NASM-CPT, and Oxygen contributor (Read Erin’s article for Form & Function in the November/December 2017 issue.)

“Before Oxygen, I would buy women’s magazines that were more about fashion and such, and if I wanted fitness, I had to buy men’s magazines and workout videos; there were no magazines for women who really trained. Then I remember seeing Monica Brant and Trish Stratus on the cover of Oxygen when I was about 20 years old and thinking, How in the world do they look like this and could that be possible for me? I would buy every issue I could get my hands on to read the stories and learn everything I could.”

— Lori Harder, three-time cover model

“I was always very athletic and strong but dealt with some bullying at a young age due to the size of my shoulders and biceps. My mom used to always tell me that the boys were jealous, but when I started college at the University of Utah as a modern dance major, I started to notice all the fitness magazines. Oxygen was my favorite: a magazine full of delicious, healthy recipes and beautiful and strong women that I could look up to because they were physically strong and proud of their bodies. It was colorful, happy and motivating, and I loved all the recipes because I loved to cook and always got inspired to take not-so-healthy recipes and make them doable when it came to my diet.”

— Brooke Ence, cover model September/October 2017

“The first Oxygen magazine I ever picked up was in the late ’90s. I was in high school at the time and was impressed by the muscle on the women! I was at the point in my life where I was not going to continue gymnastics and fell in love with the gym. I wanted to soak up as much information as possible, and Oxygen was my go-to. It was the holy grail of women’s fitness magazines. I would pull inspiration from the ladies in the magazine, and that fueled my desire to improve. In the beginning, I was a huge fangirl and was stoked to meet the models in person. Today, I am friends with a lot of those girls, and it is nice to see them have success. And, of course, it is always very cool to see yourself in the magazine!”

— Nicole Wilkins, four-time cover model

“I use the workouts for inspiration. As a personal trainer, I’m constantly looking for new ways to use equipment and ideas on how to structure workouts. Oxygen’s workouts are always a little different but still accessible for women of all fitness levels.”

— Jenessa Connor, CPT, Oxygen contributor (See Jenessa’s article “Oxygen and the Evolution of Fitness” in the November/December 2017 issue.)

Lori Harder

WAS THERE A WORKOUT OR ARTICLE THAT REALLY STRUCK YOU, OR THAT YOU REMEMBER TO THIS DAY?

“There were two — one was a spread with Monica Brant. I remember hitting the gym after track practice in hopes of one day looking like her! The other was a training article featuring Adela Garcia. She was going through a leg workout, and I remember thinking that her legs looked perfect.”

— Erin Stern

“There was an issue with Monica Brant in a red bikini that I’ll always remember because it was the first picture I ever pinned to an inspiration board. She was as close to perfection as I had ever seen, and I have always admired her physique.”

— Jamie Eason Middleton

“The women who inspire me the most are on the covers. Whether it was their story, how they lived or trained — I love hearing about women who had to overcome odds to build a life or career while also staying in shape. I looked up to Angelike Norrie, Lindsay Messina, Amber Dodzweit and Alicia Marie. They always reminded me you could strive to be your best in all areas of your life and that life has seasons.”

— Lori Harder

“I spent so many years feeling self-conscious and covering my strong legs because they were muscular. I remember a huge lower-body workout layout I did, and when it came out in the magazine, I was horrified by the pictures. Yet I got more compliments and positive feedback from that article than any others. I look back at it now and can’t believe I didn’t love my legs! If I could go back in time, I’d tell my younger fit self to be less judgmental of my body.”

— Kim Lyons

IN YOUR OPINION, WHAT WAS THE WORST FITNESS TREND, EVER?

“Besides the Shake Weight (obviously), the worst fitness trend was the Boot-camp rush that happened about 10 years ago. Boot camps can be great, especially for people who have a decent level of fitness already, but at the time, I had several clients who got hurt or overtrained. It was also trendy for boot-camp trainers to act like drill sergeants and yell at their trainees, pushing them past their fatigue limits with terrible form.”

— Erin Calderone

“There are so many! I think the Squeem ‘shapewear’ is still the worst; very high-waisted pants are second.”

— Erin Stern

“The fat-free food trend. It seemed like everything for a while was fat-free, but that also meant higher sugar and more processing. Fat — the good kind — is so important for your body, and taking it out was horrible.”

— Amanda Latona Kuclo

“I would have to say fanny packs. But I think we should bring them back but this time make them leopard!”

— Mandy Blank, first winner of the IFBB Pro Fitness Championships

“This sounds cheesy, but I loved and embraced all the crazy trends. Good or bad, I learned something from each of them — you name it, I’ve tried it! I think I’m a better trainer because of it.”

— Kim Lyons

“I think the worst trend was thinking women need to eat and train like bodybuilders to get results. We are intuitive beings and our bodies are always communicating with us. They want to move a certain way and eat certain foods to feel good. No carbs and strict, unbreakable weight-training routines were a bad trend. You have to listen to your body to make this a lifestyle that actually makes you happy and not miserable.”

— Lori Harder

MB Oxygen Mag

ANY TREND YOU THINK SHOULD MAKE A COMEBACK?

“I wouldn’t mind seeing step aerobics make a comeback. As a teenager, step aerobics was my first introduction to fitness outside of organized sports. I’d pop in a VHS tape and happily spend an hour step-kicking and grapevining across my parents’ living room. Then I’d shower and meet up with my friends for mozzarella sticks and ice cream. Ah, youth!”

— Jenessa Connor

“I would love to see a bit of the ’80s return to fitness — there was a joy to working out and it was lively and fun. Also, my naturally frizzy hair would be ‘in’ again!”

— Erin Stern

“The OG ab roller because it’s the very first piece of equipment I ever used. I remember being 18 years old, and my brother came home with an ab roller, and because I admired my brother so much, that was the only thing I used. I feel like it was a part of the start of my fitness journey, and I remember having awesome abs as a teenager.”

— Amanda Latona Kuclo

HOW DO YOU THINK FITNESS HAS EVOLVED IN THE LAST 20 YEARS?

“Fitness has truly evolved and is heading in such a great direction with functional and bodyweight training dominating. Machines will always have a place in resistance training, but more and more people are realizing how much you can do with minimal equipment like resistance bands, kettlebells, plyo boxes and other affordable gear.”

— Kim Lyons

“When I started in this industry, there wasn’t much of a focus on women building muscle. I think the playing field is more level now, and even mainstream media has taken huge strides in encouraging women to lift weights.”

— Jamie Eason Middleton

“The internet was a game changer, and having one of the first websites back in the day allowed much more interaction with fans and potential job opportunities. Now, with the social media frenzy, there are thousands of people marketing themselves as ‘trainers’ and ‘pros’ when they have not competed or been certified or anything. They work diligently to get ‘likes’ and ‘follows’ to gain notoriety, but that does not mean they are legitimate. It’s even more important now than ever to make wise choices whom you let into your life.”

— Monica Brant

“I think muscle on a woman has become more acceptable, strong has replaced skinny, and developing curves through strength training is more common and welcomed and desired. I am so happy that fitness is becoming so much more mainstream — it’s not about a fad or trend, it’s a lifestyle. It’s for everybody, whether you’re a yogi, a runner, an obstacle-course junkie, a CrossFitter or a gym rat like me. Fitness keeps growing, we keep growing and now more than ever we share common ground.”

— Amanda Latona Kuclo

“Now that science has been integrated into the fitness industry, people want their diets and workouts to be supported by evidence. Because the science of human movement (kinesiology) is always changing and making new discoveries, there’s always something new to learn to make our training even better. As a fitness writer, this keeps me on my toes!

“I also believe we’re finally dispelling the ‘weights will make women bulky’ myth. Muscular curves are now a part of the mainstream, and social media is more body-positive. Thanks to breakthrough athletes like Ronda Rousey and fitness trends like CrossFit and obstacle races, muscles are starting to be seen as being feminine, too. No longer is it just two ends of the spectrum: chiseled abs of bodybuilders or super-slender yogis — we’re seeing examples of healthy and fit women in every stage of life and strength of fitness. I think Oxygen has been at the forefront of this movement, too, setting a new standard of what it looks like to be fit.”

— Erin Calderone

“I think people are starting to get into the rhythm of how important it is to stay balanced and focused in life and fitness. I love seeing this in the younger generation, especially. Fitness is everywhere — it’s what keeps us all young, mighty, sexy and strong-minded. If you can’t take care of yourself and love yourself, you won’t be able to do much in life, including loving others.”

— Mandy Blank

“I think more women have become interested in what their bodies can do versus just what they look like. They want to run marathons, be able to do pull-ups, climb a rope or squat their bodyweight. They put in the training and fuel their bodies so that they perform better — and looking good is just gravy.”

— Jenessa Connor

HOW DO YOU THINK WOMEN’S ROLE IN THE INDUSTRY HAS CHANGED?

“We have the opportunity to empower health in each other. Fitness isn’t just about achieving a particular look anymore — it’s about seeing what your body can do and living your best life now.

— Erin Calderone

“I think women are still mostly seen as sex symbols in the fitness industry, but communities like CrossFit are changing that every day. Fitness is becoming an actual sport, and we are seeing the fittest humans that have ever been, in my opinion. Women are competitive with men and are seen as being more on an even playing field. The appreciation we have for one another is immeasurable.”

— Brooke Ence

“The fitness women in magazines used to be just sex symbols. You’d see them in the bodybuilding magazines but never would you hear about their training and nutrition. Now strong is not only sexy, but it’s also respected in a way that it wasn’t when I first started modeling/competing.”

— Kim Lyons

“I think it is more acceptable for women to have muscle. Mannequins now have six-pack abs and defined biceps, which is very empowering!”

— Nicole Wilkins

“We have a lot of power in the industry, but I wish we’d use it more. I think many women tend to objectify themselves rather than focusing on building their brand or helping others.

I will continue to be an avid fan of Oxygen, as they promote sustainability, balance and strength. We need more positive role models like that!”

— Erin Stern

“Because strength and muscle is acceptable on a woman now, we have a greater voice in the industry. Companies aren’t just targeting men for endorsements anymore, and women are being used more as ambassadors and spokespeople.”

— Amanda Latona Kuclo

“Women don’t work out to just be fit, to look good or be a certain size. We work out to feel powerful, connect to ourselves and take control of our lives. We work out to have a tribe, to feel strong and vital in our bodies. Our ‘why’ is no longer dragging us to the gym but is instead pulling with desire to love ourselves first and be the best version of ourselves — and show our daughters how we define our worth.”

— Lori Harder

Oxygen Mag nov/dec 2017

THANK-YOUS

“While many platforms this size focus on fluffy protocols that tickle the ears of the masses, Oxygen continually pushes to provide quality content in a world of commercialized fitness trends, going the extra mile to use respected, qualified experts and transcend the gimmicky fitness fads.”

— Lee Boyce, certified personal trainer, Oxygen contributor

“I’m so grateful to the women and the magazines that have blazed the trails and who have gone through the trends and experienced what they have to get us here today. If I close my eyes, I can see their faces and picture them cheering us all on now, just as I’m doing when I see other women rise. We as women hold the power to say what is and isn’t acceptable and trendy, and Oxygen demonstrates we can be powerful, smart, strong and sexy. This magazine truly helped me create my entire career in women’s fitness and self-development, and I would not be doing what I do now if it were not for Oxygen. I’m forever grateful.”

— Lori Harder

“It has been a tremendous honor to be a part of the Oxygen family. I’m so proud of everything that Oxygen stands for and everything the magazine has done for women!”

— Erin Stern

“Thank you, Oxygen, for everything you have done over the years, not just for me but for the thousands of other women you have inspired to lead healthier and fitter lifestyles!”

— Nicole Wilkins

“The most rewarding experiences I recall have to do with the thousands of women who have shared their stories with me about how my articles and posts helped them change their lives. That is an outstanding honor, and I am very appreciative of Oxygen magazine for years of believing in and supporting me in my career.”

— Monica Brant

“Strong and athletic is beautiful, and I hope all the young athletes today grow up looking at magazines like Oxygen and feel empowered to be strong, not skinny!”

— Kim Lyons

“And I am grateful daily to be able to help inspire and encourage others’ lives over the last 20 years. I can’t say thank you enough to the entire Oxygen team and family, and to everyone who has let me be a part of their fitness journey. Thank you for allowing me to inspire you and for letting me be a part of your hearts and your lives. With gratitude.”

— Amanda Latona Kuclo

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