This IS your mother’s exercise: '80s fitness trending now | TapGenes
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High-waisted shorts, neon colors, puffy vests and RayBan Wayfarers are just a sampling of the former hot ’80s looks that are burning up the fashion trends today. Love ‘em or hate ‘em, they’re back in a big way. That’s not the only way the era that birthed MTV and the end of the Cold War stays relevant — the trends are also following us to the gym.

The 1980s ushered in a fitness surge unlike anything Americans had ever seen. Jane Fonda, Richard Simmons and Suzanne Somers made sweating look good! Not too unlike the fashion statement we make by living in our yoga pants today, it was completely acceptable to walk around in those leotard get-ups back then. 

See, it all comes full circle. Like leg warmers and Atkins, the ’80s are back in action!

I think everything, including fitness, is cyclical,” said Pamela Hernandez, ACSM certified personal trainer at “Workouts get repackaged for a new age and a new demographic and come alive again.”

Which ones exactly? Well, if you look around, you’ll see your (or your mom’s) favorite ’80s workout trends living large and well in today’s fitness scenes.

Jazzercise — Why wouldn’t the original dance-meets-aerobics hybrid fitness class still be around? They still fill more than 30,000 classes every week around the world! The similarities between Jazzercise and Zumba are unmistakable. The fun, social class is “like a party not a workout,” said Hernandez.

She explains that Jazzercise “feels more natural than going to the weight room, but you definitely feel your muscles at the end. Jazzercise may have the same name but it’s not the same workout from the ’80s. They’ve changed with the times, from music to incorporating other fitness trends like HIIT and kickboxing.”

Step — The Reebok Step class, done in a group setting, is a powerful aerobic session that’s very much back. It may look easy to step up and down on the plastic platform, but you’re in for a serious workout with careful choreography to move the right parts in the right way.

“Believe it or not, people love it,” said Margo Donohue, certified fitness instructor and creator of Brooklyn Fit Chick, who noted its resurgence at her Brooklyn gym.   

Dance — Back then, people were actually doing ballet for a workout, and a version known as the Lotte Berk Method, which was the first to fuse ballet with toning and Pilates. Few workout classes are as popular as this today, as we still the style in the myriad barre classes, popularized through Barre3, Booty Barre, Pure Barre and others. Some add strength, cardio, or resistance, but all offer a total body workout that will tone you like it’s 1985!

Calisthenics — “My bootcamp on Tuesdays is just old school calisthenics,” remarked Donohue. “And people dig it!”

Jack Lalanne was the man when it came to calisthenics, popularizing those basic gym class workouts that keep the body moving with jumping jacks, push-ups, and sit-ups.

“I have them run laps, do bear crawls and tons of squats,” said Donohue. Today you’ll see these billed as bootcamp or body weight training (which the ACSM named as the most popular fitness trend of 2015!) classes on your gym’s schedule.

Aerobics — “Every once in a while I say ‘this is an old Jane Fonda move’ and people woot!” said Donohue, who is incorporating more of these old-school aerobics principles into her classes.

She says you can see a lot of this classic aerobics throwback, popularized by Fonda, in today’s Tracy Anderson or Simone de la Rue work. It’s in those “super dancey, girly aerobics with leg lifts until you can’t move anymore!” that it really shines through.

TapGenes Take Away: A good workout never goes out of style! Workouts like Jazzercise and calisthenics may have been hot when your mom was sweating in the 80’s, but they’re still very popular today.

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