Eileen Philippa Rose Fowler (1906–2000)

  Fitness Queen of the 1950s and 60s
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Eileen Fowler lived and worked in Thurrock for many years. She was born in Edmonton and initially went into the world of the musical theatre. In the mid-1930s she left the stage and concentrated on keeping fit and a healthy life style. She set up classes, encouraging everyone to exercise believing this was a key to energy and suppleness. Eileen examined ways to sell her notions to the public at large, and before and throughout World War II, she set up the Industrial Keep Fit organisation, with classes for the company workers of Middlesex, Hertfordshire and later Essex. Her displays and demonstrations were given by teams from her various groups. She held fitness classes at Bata, East Tilbury, Queen’s Hotel, Grays and at Thames Board Mills, Purfleet. and choreographed the Bata pantomime. She was able to bring her unique presentation skills to that task. Her classes often featured smiling girls with ‘EF’ on their shirts.

Eileen Fowler’s ladylike but demanding routines were a feature of radio and television between 1954 and 1961. Exercising to music, sometimes with props was quite a new concept at the time. At its peak, her radio show had half a million listeners. She is remembered as the epitome of 'health and beauty'. Eileen Fowler was a founder member of the Keep Fit Association in 1956. She also produced fitness programmes, including Stay Young Forever, on LP records and was awarded MBE in 1975.

The Thurrock Museum is planning an exhibition commemorating her role in developing beauty through health! If you have any Eileen Fowler memorabilia that you are willing to loan please contact either the museum or Thurrock Local History Society .