National Fitness Hall of Fame Museum & Institute

Educate * Motivate * Inspire

The 1980's - "Let's Get Physical; the Young, Hot & Happening!"

Power Walking, Aerobics, Yuppies, Bodyshaping, Headbands and Leg Warmers were all household terms during the 80’s.  It was a time when Olivia Newton John encouraged everyone to exercise with her #1 smash hit, “Let’s Get Physical.”  It was also a time where “Greed was Good” and it was okay for women to “Have It All,” at least according to Gordon Gekko and Helen Gurley Brown.

If you were young, hot and happening; “The Health Club was the place to be in 1983!”  Prior to the 80’s, most women certainly would not be found in a Gym.  Some women may have frequented a Health Spa or perhaps a Tennis Club but they certainly would not be seen in a, “sweaty, smelly gym!”
  By 1980, health & racquet club owners smartened up and realized that the key to running a profitable club would be to get more women as members.  Owners did their part in appealing to woman by designing and  building separate women-only weight rooms with gorgeous chrome-plated machines, beautiful aerobics rooms complete with plush red carpeting, disco ball and fully mirrored walls and putting in juice-bars where members could recoup and mingle.

Dance Aerobics

During the mid to late 70’s and into the early 80’s many group exercise classes were held in school gymnasiums or in small rooms at local park districts and Y’s.  Instructors would bring in their own mat and a boom-box with a personally created mixed-tape and lead a bunch of women, dressed in black leotards, through a series of calisthenics, mat-work exercises and stretches.  One popular class, Slimnastics included such exercises as fanny-firmers, doggie-kicks and tushy-rolls. 

By 1980, a new form of group exercise was just starting to take root.  Dance Aerobics was an exciting workout that combined traditional exercises with contemporary dance moves and allowed dancers to “strut their stuff” in an exercise setting. 
Jacki Sorensen, who coined the term, Aerobic Dancing® and Judi Sheppard Missett, who trademarked Jazzercise®, each developed their own style of dance-exercise in the late 1960’s.

Actress, Jane Fonda took aerobics to the next level by motivating the masses with her celebrity status and great workouts!  
Jane’s first exercise video, Jane Fonda’s Workout, was released in 1982 and topped all exercise videos and others movies as well.  It remained in the top position for three years!  It was topped, only by her next video; Jane Fonda’s New Workout.  In 1986 Jane held the 1st and 2nd positions as the best-selling video of the year.


Celebrities & Fashions

Portraying the right image was essential in the 80s as the credo,  “Image is Everything” became the dominant philosophy.  Looking good was imperative and "Dressing For Success" was practically a requirement during this "Era of Excess."

Popular television shows such as "Dynasty" and "Dallas" featured women in gorgeous dresses and had men decked out in the finest European suits.  Even cops in Miami were catching crooks in fashionable sport coats and sandals.

The health club was no different, as gray sweats were practically banned from the finer establishments and  neon-colored spandex outfits with shimmering leg warmers and coordinated headbands were all but required attire for the ladies and formerly shirt-less men started to robe themselves with silk warm-up suits.

LA GEAR made “Street-Walking” legal as the era of the 80’s was a designer’s paradise!  Danskin, the dance-apparel company took full advantage of the fitness-boom, advertising their products as such, “Danskin, not just for dancing!”