Channel the energetic excess of the 80s with fun fitness workouts that will have you making good on your new year, new me resolutions.
There is more to the phrase, “let’s get physical,” than a rousing fragment of the classic hit song by Olivia Newton-John to “hear your body talk.” A refreshing and moderately upbeat anthem, Physical was a movement that heightened the increasing popularity of aerobics in the 80s, back when fitness was becoming more of a communal commitment in the advent of the decade of excess. With the institutionalization of physical activity, workouts became a routine and every beginning of the new year, “let’s get physical” became a mantra that got people together and collectively resolve to shake off the indulgence of the holidays, leave the sluggish remnants of the previous year in the past, and to simply get into a healthier mindset for a better self.
Once January rolls along, this is the time when search engines are fired up with the pursuit of fitness routines to break a sweat to. Here, everything is considered—from the type of workout, the diet, and even the type of athletic gear to get into the mood of physical activity. Sure, there are all the contemporary workouts that have shifted from gyms, studios, and boxes to the comforts of home in the context of the pandemic, but these modern-day routines have the 80s and the pioneers of this era to thank for locking in the interest into a lifestyle that we are all buying into for our overall well-being. Come to think of it, the accessibility and convenience of the 80s-style at-home workout tapes could very well be a precedent to what has now become the exercise of compromise in online coaching and virtual classes.
As we turn the pages of the new year and list down our resolutions, there is no better time to focus on the habit of working out and to stick to it in the long. To us, this means reacquainting ourselves with the physical education of the 80s. Besides, with the obsession for anything nostalgic and retro, these old-school workouts are about to be cool again. So, what are you waiting for? Bust out the neon high-cut leotards and color-blocked spandex, oversized cropped muscle tees, micro-mini shorts, arm bands, and leg warmers, and prepare for that stretch, because this is where we make fitness fun again.
A high-energy for of dance-based cardio, get your heart pumping with what is engaged at the very core of 80s workouts. For at least 15 minutes, you get to shake and shimmy sans equipment just like those aerobic videos you can’t seem to look away from. Here, you seamlessly transition from one move (V-step, overhead reach, hamstring curl, step touch, cross-body push, and mambo among others) to the next with no rest in between, following the beat of the music or the manic motivations of the instructor. Each song is enough length for one circuit, where at the end of each, you inhale deeply, march in place, and swing your arms around as an active rest. You can repeat until a total time of 30 minutes.
A variation that stemmed from the 80s, step aerobics follows the same dynamics, except this time with an exercise step. Developed by Gin Miller as rehabilitation for the knee, you basically work around the box step in a coordinated and choreographed motion to the tune of upbeat music.
Buns Of Steel Workout
What started out as a one-shot exercise video in the 80s, the Buns of Steel workout by Greg Smithey has been credited for the focused fitness fascination of rear end. More for toning of glutes, this routine is guaranteed to have your backside burning in its incremental variations. Do this for at least 3 times a week and as many who have tried it over the years, you will discover muscles you thought you never had. Get behind this workout, because as Greg Smithey says, “we’re getting into shape today.”
Originally meant for those with bad backs, Callanetics is a non-aerobic and non-impact workout that involves frequent repetitions of small muscular movements, as well as of stretches and squeezes. A cross between ballet, yoga, and calisthenics, the Callan Pinckney method is gentle but effective, making the triple slow motions and firming exertions easy to incorporate into your routine 2-3 times a week. According to Pinckney, an hour of these exercises equals roughly 20 hours of aerobic dancing, and even going as far as claiming that you can look 10 years younger in 10 hours.
There isn’t anything more quintessentially 80s than jazzercise, or the original dance party workout. A silly but ultimately fun predecessor to the highly popular Zumba, Jazzercise is basically choreographed moves to music that tones, strengthens, and conditions the body. Combining dance, Pilates, yoga, kickboxing, and aerobic motions, it is a deceptively high intensity workout that will have you sweating buckets but oddly smiling all throughout. No mere fad, the enthusiastic resistance training still has a dedicated following to this day, which you can take part of through clips and videos online.
Jane Fonda And The Workout Video Stars
“Are you ready to work out?” says Jane Fonda from the screen, compelling you to get in to the spirit of sweating it out. Practically the face of fitness in the 80s, the activist and actress actually broke ground with a popular workout studio in LA, paving the way for more women to get into working out, which was as usual, dominated by men then. In 1982, she released the original Jane Fonda Workout on video, which was a well-rounded approach to exercises that featured everything from aerobics to easy, low-impact movements. Offered in variations of 30-minute class for beginners and 50-minutes for more advanced lessons, it was the accessibility of these VHS tapes that proved to be a massive hit with 17 million copies sold worldwide, which you can still stream through Amazon, including other titles such as Jane Fonda’s New Workout, Jane Fonda’s Complete Workout, and Jane Fonda’s Low Impact Workout.
She has since released AM/PM Yoga for Beginners, as well as taking to TikTok to combine an advocacy for climate change and love for fitness in her virtual rally, #FireDrillFriday.
A true testament to the commodification of convenience, workout videos were all the rage, turning personalities such as the wildly infectious and motivating Richard Simmons and the exceptionally efficient Jake Steinfeld into stars of their time.
Featured image courtesy of @dualipa & Pinterest