University Archives & Special Collections, MG 172. (Patrick Hayes)

William Orban and 5BX

Canada has seen several homegrown fitness movements and there has been a University of Saskatchewan connection with many of them.

In the early 1960s, Canada experienced its first fitness craze called 5BX or Five Basic Exercises, and its author was Dr. William Orban, director of the U of S School of Physical Education from 1958 until 1966.

Dr. Orban’s 5BX Plan for Physical Fitness would sell 23 million copies worldwide and be translated into 13 languages.

He developed the plan while he was a fitness consultant to the Canadian Air Force. Combining a Dale Carnegie salesmanship course and a PhD in Physical Education, Orban set out to “sell it just as you would sell anything else.”

The plan needed no special equipment and advocated spending 11 minutes a day on the regimen of five exercises. To Orban, the plan was a first step to better fitness.

He and his family led a Spartan existence that seemed eccentric at the time. They did not own a car, went on long family hikes, and he jogged daily around campus.

Born in Regina, he was the first Canadian to earn a PhD in Physical Education. He died in 2004 at age 81.

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