Grab Your Dayglo Leggings! ’80s Workouts Are Back, Baby

Photo: Getty/ South_agency
There are a lot of things worth loving about the '80s: the fashion, for one (looking at you, neon); the music, for another (heart you, Madonna); and from a fitness standpoint, there has really never been a decade with more character. It was a time when the bright workout leggings were only outshone by the even brighter workout personalities like Richard Simmons and Jane Fonda. But just because these workouts may seem retro, it doesn't mean they aren't the real deal when it comes to results. Recently, we've noticed that some of the trendiest workouts in the fitness world all seem to be inspired by the Cyndi Lauper era.

"The '80s were an exciting time in exercise," says obé co-founder Ashley Mills, who recently hosted an '80s-themed class on the fitness app. "At obé, we’re all about making your workout something to look forward to, which we first learned could be possible when watching our parents workout in their basements in the '80s." And it seems they're not alone in this sentiment: Kristi Molinaro, founder of NYC's 30/60/90, recently told me that her step-based workout class was inspired by the step classes of the decidedly more-is-more decade.

Scroll through for the 2019 takes on some of your favorite '80s workouts. And in the words of Olivia Newton John, let's get physical, fam.

Cardio dance videos

With the rise of digital fitness over the last few years, cardio dance videos have become a major part of the fitness zeitgeist. Trainers like Megan Roup, Amanda Kloots, and The Rickey Sisters are giving us major Paula Abdul Get Up and Dance! vibes, but instead of having to watch them on VHS all you've gotta do is double-tap your way through Instagram. The "high-low" format of these routines—AKA high intensity, low impact—make them the perfect (and most fun) way to get a solid dose of cardio, '80s style.

The thigh-master

A new take on an old favorite, P.Volve (which has a studio in New York City, plus an app where you can stream the routines) takes the basic principles of Suzanne Somers' OG thigh master and 2019-ifies them. "My method focuses on slow and controlled movements—mostly targeting the hips, glutes, and thighs—that will lengthen and sculpt your muscles without damaging or fatiguing them," says Stephen Pasterino, the studio's founder. Instead of using some iteration of a medieval torture device, a la the actual thigh master, P. Volve's moves are done around a special ball (the "P.ball") that you place between your legs and squeeze, which helps to activate what feels like every muscle in your body.

Step aerobics

Richard Simmons may have disappeared from the public eye, but his influence on fitness most certainly has not. Step aerobics was hands down one of the most popular workouts when Ronald Reagan was president, but fell out of fashion for a bit while more boutique-y classes came onto the scene. "Steps can literally elevate your workout," says JaneDO founders Jacey and Dani, who offer "Step Up" classes at their New Jersey studios. "They allow the opportunity to manipulate your range of motion, base of support, and give you an unlimited variety of choreographic options. Plus, step aerobics keeps your brain and your body sharp." You can add a step to your cardio, strength training, or HIIT sessions. In fact, at 30/60/90, you'll often see moves like burpees, pushups, mountain climbers, and tricep dips happening on a step. Feel free to accessorize with a neon scrunchie at your leisure.

Vibrating plates

I know, I know—vibrating plates may feel even more '80s-infomercial-y than the rest of the workouts on this list, but hear me out. Platefit, a (literally) buzzy studio in Los Angeles, opened its doors in 2016 and has been offering vibrating workouts ever since. For what it's worth, there's science to support a vibe-heavy fitness routine: “Vibration can lessen the pain of stretching, increase joint range of movement, and reduce the time spent getting optimal results,” fitness guru Diery Prudent told me last year.

Trampoline workouts

The song "Jump! (For My Love)" isn't the only trampoline-related thing we can thank the '80s for. Rebounder workouts were all the rage back in the day, and have had a recent resurgence, thanks to bounce-themed classes at studios like LEKFit, Fithouse, The Ness, and Body by Simone. “It’s an incredible core workout because you’re having to use your core to stabilize you the entire time, so you don’t fall off the trampoline,” says Simone de la Rue, founder of Body by Simone. “And it actually requires your full body, including the largest muscle groups, so it’s going to kick the heart rate up.” Plus, doing your usual floor moves on a trampoline (think: crunches, pushups, and squats) is a great way to take things up a notch and turn them into full-body workouts.

Another fitness trend we're seeing everywhere: Workouts are becoming more and more like going out. And, FWIW, digital fitness is definitely here to stay. 

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