Tuesday, April 07, 2015

F is for Fitness

This month I'm participating in the A to Z Challenge. My theme is the 80s. Today's letter is:



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.

98 comments:

  1. I think I will pass on the video.
    The caption for Simmons is perfect.
    Olivia, now she looked good.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Still does! I saw her on something recently and she's really holding up well.

      Delete
  2. It's the Stepford wives and husbands doing aerobics :) I love how the guys have their nipples covered but show off their pecks ::g:: I always liked leg warmers, but that was as close as I ever got to aerobics.
    Tasha
    Tasha's Thinkings | Wittegen Press | FB3X (AC)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think men wore those horrible things in the 80s...but only the really dedicated aerobicizers. Not any normal people! I remember trying to do aerobics along with tapes and TV shows. I remember thinking no normal human could ever look like those people on screen while doing aerobics!

      Delete
  3. I remember the craze, I do have to say I never got the Richard Simmons craze... I did like the music he picked though.

    Funny how a book had to tell us what exercise was... lol

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think what was great about Richard Simmons was his heart. He always showed this amazing compassion to everyone he helped. Plus, even though he seems silly, he was entertaining to watch. I never did any of his workouts but it was hard to miss him on talk shows and ads and the clips I saw seemed like they'd be really appealing to his demographic--which at the time seemed to be middle-aged women?

      Delete
  4. Now I have the Physical song in my head. Not sure that's a good thing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Better than "Eat My Shorts," which was the song I had stuck in my head all day yesterday!

      Delete
  5. I had leg warmers during the 80's thanks to watching Fame on the TV, we could actually get grey ones that we could wear at primary school - they must have looked ever so funny under our pleated school skirts. :)

    Sophie
    Sophie's Thoughts & Fumbles
    FB3X
    Wittegen Press

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I always loved Fame. I think when you have to wear a uniform, you find any way to show individuality and that was your way. I was talking about that last week when I had that picture of me in the movie theater uniform. I'd always wear crazy earrings because it was the only way to personalize those standard uniforms.

      Delete
  6. Great post and what a fun theme! Ahh, leg-warmers - no matter what the temperature - itchy wool-blend footless giant socks were the MUST HAVE accessory, and NOT just for working out. I'm glad no photos of me survived from that era! Thanks for the laugh!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't remember ever wearing leg warmers. I may have...I just don't remember it. I think if I did, it was with this one long sweatshirt-dress I had for a brief period when they were in style. I can't remember whether leg warmers were part of that getup or not!

      Delete
  7. I was a part of the craze, complete with headband... and leg warmers... remember those long woollen ones almost up to the knees?
    Physical was THE aerobic work out song! :)
    Thanks for the trip down memory lane, Stephanie!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I may not remember wearing leg warmers but I do remember wearing the headbands. That was around the time braided ribbon barrettes were in style--you went to the craft shop and bought different colors of ribbons and braided them on those barrettes that had two metal bars. Then you had ribbons streaming down like Olivia had in Xanadu. We made our own headbands, too--we were pretty crafty in the early 80s!

      Delete
  8. I never had any interest in fitness in the 80's, quite possibly because of everything you mentioned!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It was fun...for about a minute. I remember getting excited every time I bought a new workout video. At first it was tough to keep up with the moves. Then you felt like an expert because you knew all the moves. Then you got bored and moved onto the next thing. Each tape had about a two-week shelf life!

      Delete
  9. I spent the 80's fat as a walrus... I grew up on a farm and mommy cooked everything on pig fat :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My mom always cooked with vegetable oil. Still today, I'm not too fond of foods fried in real fat.

      Delete
  10. I hit puberty at height of the bright-spandex fitness craze... These images on my television were very confusing to me, and surely shaped some deep-seated part of my sexual awareness.

    Creepy.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. LOL I can imagine! They've made fun of the suggestiveness of some of those aerobics shows in recent years.

      Delete
  11. "Works out his entire life. Never looks fit." Bwahaha! Richard Simmons is the FIRST person that comes to mind when I think of the 80s fitness craze. Years later, they made us do that in PE. SMH.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We had to do aerobics in PE, too! Every time I hear "Book of Love" by ABC, I remember the time our junior high brought in an "aerobics expert" to lead a large group of PE classes in a group aerobics activity.

      Delete
  12. I did do the Jane Fonda thing for awhile and worked at a fitness studio. I saw her on the Academy Awards last month and she still looks great in her late 70's as I am...I could stand to lose a few pounds but I feel healthy so I'm not going to worry about being that thin anymore.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My husband tells a story about coming home to find his mom and all her friends drinking frozen drinks while watching Jane Fonda's workout video from lounging positions on the sofa!

      Delete
  13. I had several workout videos. I couldn't watch Richard Simmons though. I'd be afraid the tape would burst into flames.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, I couldn't workout while watching him. I would have been staring in disbelief the whole time.

      Delete
  14. So glad I never had to live through the spandex era. Seeing richard simmons like that at a young age would have scarred me for life lol

    ReplyDelete
  15. Back in the 90s, Richard Simmons was at the Mall in our town - I think he was promoting some exercise tape or program. My friend and I were going there for some reason (we didn't know anything about the appearance). She was driving a loaner Porsche, so we parked at the very edge of the lot, away from anyone who might scratch the car. As we sat there, a limo pulled up and Richard Simmons ran out, smiling and acting like Richard Simmons. He came to the car and said, "Hey, girls! What are we doing? A little shopping? Stop by the food court? What kind of fun are we getting into today?" We were in a state of shock. I think we I said, "What are we doing? What are YOU doing? Why are you here of all places?" We chatted a few minutes and off he went.

    You can't make this stuff up.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Great story! Sadly, what was missing back then were smartphones with cameras. Although I've heard some celebrities say they're more reluctant to talk to strangers now because everyone whips out a phone and says, "Can I get a picture?" Then the next thing you know, you're surrounded by people with smartphones, wanting a picture, and you can't get away.

      Delete
  16. This post was great!! My mom used to do aerobics faithfully. I remember her "sweatin' to the oldies." I wore a headband/wristband for P.E. back in the day;-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think I probably needed them in P.E.!

      Delete
  17. i really enjoyed my jazzercise years. rather miss those tights and thong over-panties. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Even though it's been out of style for a while, I have to say, those high-cut swimsuit bottoms/panties were WAYYYYY more figure flattering than the low-cut ones that have been in style for 30 years or whatever. Same with the high-rise jeans vs. the low-rise jeans that won't go away.

      We don't really change fashion trends very much anymore, I'm noticing!

      Delete
  18. I forgot about the sweatbands haha. The Richard Simmons caption is classic.
    The exercise clothes seem so funny now, especially the leg warmers.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think leg warmers were back in style a couple of years ago...I remember seeing them at one of those juniors stores and thinking, "Really? We're doing THAT again?"

      Delete
  19. I loved that last video. Shake It Off is a favorite.

    Have a fabulous day. ☺

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I usually obsessively LOVE about two or three songs off of each of her albums and hate the rest with a passion. Her music seems to work in extremes with me, for some reason!

      Delete
  20. This brought back some great memories!!! :) LOVE!

    ReplyDelete
  21. I'm so thankful that I never wore leotards or tights to the gym. How on earth was that comfortable?

    My bf recently found Alyssa Milano's Team Steam on the Internet. It's pretty funny stuff. How times have changed!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I remember Jennie Garth had a workout tape, too. I had Paula Abdul's dance one...hers was actually pretty good but it got old quickly.

      Delete
  22. That was a good trip down Memory Lane Stephanie. I love the last video and it got me all energized, lol...
    Great stuff you're pulling out of the old closet. I remember the headband and all the get fit videos.

    Hugs,
    JB

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's hard to watch that last video and not feel like getting up and dancing!

      Delete
  23. I had that very same Jane Fonda workout tape! I can still hear her purring, "just a few more..."

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. All I remember are the sit-ups. A billion and one sit-ups. I was thinking, "No human could do this!"

      Delete
  24. For years, my mother worked out to the VHS tapes of exercise shows from PBS, particularly a woman named Margaret. Now she uses much more modern exercise shows. As a child, I thought leotards and sweatbands were cool.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I remember there was a workout on HBO called "The 20 Minute Workout." Found it on YouTube:

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UKrNCjzgHxY

      Delete
  25. Oh I rocked many a sweat band and leg warmer back in the day. It's not a good look. And I actually owned that Jane Fonda work out video. I feel so dated!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think I must have owned it at some point because I remember doing it.

      Delete
  26. Oh, that's hilarious, and brings back so many memories. I love that last video . . :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I had a little too much fun watching it. Very entertaining!

      Delete
  27. LOL - I should start wearing my headbands around my forehead when I go to the gym! They actually might be more functional that way!

    ReplyDelete
  28. OMG-It was such a craze and I never figured out what leg warmers were good for? The headbands and the hair and the skin tight exercise. I actually had a Jane Fonda workout tape. The one girl in the video looks like Erin Moran:) I am surprised how well that video goes with her song

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I guess leg warmers are supposed to keep your lower legs warm as you go from your car to the gym in the winter...but you're supposed to remove them when you get there, right? I think I remember hearing somewhere that they originated with dancers, who would wear them on the way to and from dance practice but not while dancing.

      Delete
  29. I went to see if I still had my leg warmers. I don't. :-( They might come back in, too.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. They have them now for babies!

      Delete
    2. Oh my. Really? I guess I can see the purpose but babies need full-body warmers!

      Delete
  30. Yes, I watched the whole Taylor Swift video. *sigh* But it made me laugh, so maybe it was worth it. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I did, too, I'm ashamed to say! At the part where she talks, the dance really syncs up.

      Delete
  31. Richard Simmons is funny and he's helped a lot of people. I remember all of the people you mentioned.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. He does have a warm heart--I think that's why we forgive his wardrobe.

      Delete
  32. Actually, I started with Jack LaLane...no music.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No music?! That would be interesting.

      Delete
  33. Stephanie! This was so funny! I had to tweet those videos. Lisa, co-host AtoZ 2015, @ http://www.lisabuiecollard.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hope it gave your followers a laugh!

      Delete
  34. Oh my, oh my....I remember that Jane Fonda workout!! What a killer! The woman never stopped running. After 15 minutes, I just flaked out on the floor and watched her finish up :) Great post, Stephanie.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I did that man, many times with workout videos/shows. Halfway through I'd just sit on the sofa with my bottled water and stare blankly at it.

      Delete
  35. The videos refuse to play for me here - but are definitely on permanent loop in my memory. There is still a water aerobics class at our local pool, and I always intrigued by the participants in full make-up and jewellery.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. When I used to walk at the Y, the track went around the pool. I'd see the older women in the pool doing water aerobics on Saturday mornings sometimes. I never got a close-up look but that's hilarious! I don't think I could do water aerobics because they do them in the lap pool or the outside pool--both of which are FREEZING. Cold pools are like torture to me.

      Delete
  36. I had that Kenneth Cooper book. Just reading it used to wear me out, I'm afraid I never did any exercising.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It seems odd, doesn't it? Reading a book about how to exercise? Seems the wrong format for teaching something like that.

      Delete
  37. I remember when there were Jazzercise centers all over the place with aerobics :) It is almost pathetic to see Richard Simmons these days. He needs to start wearing pants!

    betty

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Did you see his website? It didn't look like that when I first wrote this and put the link in...he's done that for Easter!!! It's quite...bright.

      Delete
  38. That video just cracked me up! The outfits and the bright white footwear...eek! I am so glad workout clothes are more comfortable and versatile these days!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We loved white tennis shoes. Although I have bright pink tennis shoes now...

      Delete
  39. Ha ha that video was brilliant! I like the fact that everyone was having fun and not caring what people thought of them. I'm glad aerobics happened because it paved the way for things like Zumba, which are so much fun.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Those were the best of the best in aerobics at the time, I guess? I didn't even realize they had an aerobics championship until I saw this video!

      Delete
  40. Thanks for the trip back to the eighties. I do remember the videos and the leg warmers.

    Sunni
    http://sunni-survivinglife.blogspot.com/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My "V" was going to be VCRs but then I realized I HAD to do video games. I can't do a blog series on the 80s and leave out video games!

      Delete
  41. Oh wow! It's so hard to believe that Olivia Newton John was almost thirty when she played a high schooler in Grease. I can always watch her do the Let's Get Physical workout video. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's funny you mention that--I'm watching Beverly Hills 90210 on YouTube right now. I've made it to season 5 and Andrea has a new baby. She seems COMPLETELY out of place on the show at that point. The whole thing was ridiculous. She was 29 at the start of the show, playing a 16-year-old. But ONJ didn't look at all like a high schooler, either. It was different, I guess, because everyone in Grease was in their 20s...BH90210 was a bunch of teenagers and one 29-year-old.

      Delete
  42. I think I mentioned before that I am so glad you picked the 80s! Although it was my daughter who grew up in the 80s it is wonderful memories for me. I miss leg warmers and high tops and Ten was one of my favorite movies! Thanks for this!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Aww. Glad I could take you down memory lane. It's been fun for me, too. I don't think any of us appreciated all this while we were in it.

      Delete
  43. Yikes. You really are capturing the 80's here. LOL. Richard Simmons. He was (is?) so annoying. I remember legwarmers and Flashdance and I actually took an aerobics class at the Y.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I remember we had a gym called "For Women Only" that was designed around aerobics. That gym shut down when aerobics dwindled. The Y is able to evolve to take in whatever the latest trend is.

      Delete
  44. Yoga was around in the 80s. Or 70s. I remember my kindergarten teacher showing us some poses.

    I had one of those Jane Fonda videos...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, my research indicated it wasn't popular as a form of exercise until the 90s...but yoga has been around for centuries, I believe? I did find when I was researching that some people were using yoga for exercise in the 80s...so I worded it that it wasn't yet popular as a form of exercise to make sure I covered the fact that it was around.

      Delete
  45. Love this! We have a Jane Fonda video floating around somewhere in my house.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. She did a whole series, right? Not just the two I pictured? I never paid much attention back then--I just knew she had videos!

      Delete
  46. Yep, did some these....and still feel guilty for not doing anymore! A lot of young men had a crush on Olivia :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Olivia comes up at least two more times this month...once is tomorrow, but only briefly!

      Delete
  47. I also remember the later but memorable 8 minute abs thing

    ReplyDelete
  48. My mom would mail order non-fiction books, so we had fitness books on the shelves. I remember those outfits.

    ReplyDelete
  49. Once of my college roommate had the leg warmers, head bands, etc... She didn't do aerobics though, she just liked the fashion.

    ReplyDelete
  50. Oh, yes! Watching Richard Simmons was incredible. He had more energy and enthusiasm than most children I know. You couldn't help but smile and laugh while watching.

    ReplyDelete
  51. I remember all of it! :) That video is hilarious!

    ReplyDelete