In the 80s, America decided to get in shape. The nation was watching the disco era wind down but yoga wasn't yet popular as a form of exercise. I can only assume those former disco dancers were looking for a way to stay in shape now that they'd hung up their disco shoes in favor of raising children and starting their careers.
The term "aerobics" was introduced by Kenneth H. Cooper, M.D. in the late 60s. His book taught readers that activities like running, swimming, and bicycling were exercise. Apparently this was surprising information somehow.
But in 1982, most of America learned about aerobics through a movie star.
Jane Fonda released her first workout video and a trend was born. Aerobics combined fitness and dancing, making exercise fun for the first time ever. Soon everyone was hitting in the gym in colorful leotards and leg warmers.
Then, of course, 70s goddess Olivia Newton-John came out with Physical, which was a #1 hit for a bazillion weeks in a row. Instead of addressing the song's obviously suggestive theme, she (VERY wisely) chose to capitalize on the fitness craze for the music video, only making the craze that much more of one. Music videos were also a HUGE thing...so it's no wonder this song was such a big success.
That brings the issue of the decorative sweatband. It was a must in the 80s, even if you weren't working out.
Home video was probably the biggest factor in the sudden interest in health, though. Suddenly everyone could buy a VHS tape and work out every day with their favorite celebrities. It was a trend that continued into the early 90s.
But perhaps the most memorable part of the 80s fitness craze was Richard Simmons. He's still at it today.
I leave you today with this viral video from the 1988 Crystal Light National Aerobic Championships--which oddly syncs fairly well to Taylor Swift's 2014 hit Shake It Off. This video says it all.