You see a lot more people in their 20's and 30's who look fit than you did 40 years ago. It's not surprising, given the proliferation of various fitness routines.
There's CrossFit. Pilates. P90X "muscle confusion" workouts. Boxercise. Taebo. TRX suspension exercises. Kettlebells. Spinning. Yoga. Zumba and other "dancercise" classes. Various "boot camps." The Navy Seal workout (running interspersed with various calisthenics).
Triathletes have their own culture, as do runners and swimmers.
Forrty years ago, most of these forms of exercise hadn't been dreamed up yet. Forty years ago, guys used to actually be proud of their beer bellies. You'd see a guy put his hand on his belly, say something about his beer consumption, and look as if he thought he'd done something manly.
(Young people will hear this with disbelief, but old people will remember.)
Forty years ago, anybody who worked on his physique was regarded as either abnormally macho or a likely homosexual.
Today, it's just normal.
Forty years ago, people would talk about becoming "musclebound" as if it meant being placed into a cage, never to be able to move freely again.
Today, people understand the correlation between strength and athletic performance.
Forty years ago, the jogging craze was just getting started. Triathlons hadn't yet been invented, and athletes who competed for their schools were expected to give up their sport the moment they graduated.
Today, every other adult you talk to has some athletic goal in mind.
Forty years ago, you could aspire to either be a freakish body builder, or a skinny runner.
Today, you have a plethora of choices.
Forty years ago, the YMCA was, as the Village People suggested in 1978, often just a place to hook up with other guys.
Today, young people hear the song and don't really get the reference.
Forty years ago, for the few guys who did pursue strength and fitness as a goal in itself, the standard measure of how good you were was your bench press. These days, you rarely hear one guy ask another, "How much you bench?"
Forty years ago, you never heard anyone talk about "core strength."
Today, people are far more sophisticated.
Of course, part of the reason you see more guys who are really jacked these days is because of the prevalence of steroids. Forty years ago, a lean, muscular physique was a marvel of nature. Today, if you see one, it's likely there's something unnatural involved.
But even without the steroids, fitness -- in some form or other -- is pretty much a universal goal these days. Forty years ago, that was definitely not the case.
Again, young people will have a hard time believing this, but this post is only a slight exaggeration.