As far as exercise and fitness itself goes, not a lot has changed in the 20 years that have passed since the 1980’s. However, one thing that has changed, and for the better, is fitness fashion. The 1980’s were the decade of Spandex tights, leotards, unitards, leg warmers and sweatbands.
Bright colors were a must, with pinks, purples and yellows favored. The garish and sometimes frightening choice of aerobic clothing was not limited to women though. Men often wore tiny, tight shorts, with little left to the imagination.
Spandex was a favorite material for aerobics wear in the 80’s – the picture to the left is a classic example of a Spandex aerobics outfit, the wearing showing all her curves. In the 1980’s women were more than happy to flaunt their fit bodies. The view seemed to be the tighter the clothing the better.
The most famous brand name associated with spandex was Lycra, which is a trademark of Invista (formerly part of DuPont). Such is the prominence of the Lycra brand that it has become a generic trademark in many parts of the world. It was probably the fitness fashion industry that made Lycra such a success.
In a way 1980’s fitness fashion was partly responsible for the bright and often lurid street fashion on the time. The fitness clothing evolved from outdoor clothing that was designed to be thermal, flexible and comfortable. These were made with synthetic materials, which are easily dyed. This lead to people wanting brighter and brighter colors, as making an impact in the aerobics or jazz dance class was essential.
Although fitness fanatics moved from the tennis courts to the gym classes, showing off the latest fashions was still essential for many. As the fitness clothing become more popular, people started to wear the clothes on the streets, and women wearing leggings and leg warmers with tight fitting tops, became a common scene on streets all over the USA and UK. In addition to this, the popular American TV show, Fame, also helped to push these 1980’s fashions from the gym and into the mainstream.
Take this aerobics / fashionista to the left. Would she get away with wearing a near transparent unitard in a gym or Pilates class today? Judging from some of the more flamboyant outfits, the 1980’s must have been a fun time to get fit! Just imagine if your Pilates instructor bounded into the classroom wearing a low cut transparent unitard, giant blond perm, and leaving nothing to the imagination regarding what was beneath the unitard! How on earth did they get away with it? It is certainly not an image which encourages people to concentrate on exercise! With our 80’s fitness fanatic here, she really should have worn a sports bra, and her tight unitard leaves little to the imagination below either. A truly shocking image of 1980’s fitness fashion, and proof that as far as aerobics and fitness fashion is concerned, the 1980’s really were a disaster!
Let’s go back to the 80’s now, with this classic 1980’s Aerobics Video Montage from YouTube, with some classy perms and aerobics wear on show for all to see: