Fat Blast From the Past: 1980s Exercise Videos

Hey, team!  Are you ready for some fitness?  Are you?  Bounce up and down!  Again!  Now stand on your head!  And bounce, one, two, three – keep bouncing!  That’s right, bounce on your head!  You can do it!  Don’t stop, or this giant Gila Monster will eat you!  Yay, motivation!

Last week you guys gave me a great list of exercise videos to check out.  There were scary words in the titles like “shred”, “burn”, “ripped”, “turbo fire”, and “Richard Simmons.”  Freaked me out a little bit.  I don’t want to own most of them.  Keeping people like that Jillian girl from “Biggest Loser” around would keep me up at night.  I could just see her staring at me from that box with that look on her face that says “I hate you.  Now I’m going to kill you.”

What if I don't want to be shredded?  Quit staring at me, Jillian!

What if I don’t want to be shredded? Quit staring at me, Jillian!

So I figured I’d check them out of the library, or rent them, or something.  And then I decided, meh, I’m tired.  I’ll check out youtube.  Turns out this is a great source for some real exercise gems, folks.  So I figured we’d do a “Fat Blast from the Past” with some 80s exercise videos.  First up is a 1987 clip from “Buns of Steel 2” (because the first one wasn’t steely bunned enough).

You have to love the exercise leader.  Mullet, hippy beard, headband, spandex, and . . . electric blue legwarmers.  I simply must have that fine specimen of manhood!  Also, check out the girl in the back.  They’ve got her up on some sort of platform, the better to see her pink spandex leotard and blue tights.  Watch at about 2:47 on the tape where they all bow their heads in shame.

Next up!  The Firm.  No, not the Grisham novel that was made into a sucky movie filled with endless close-ups of Tom Cruise trying to act like he’s thinking.  This one’s another 80s trip – 1988 to be exact.  This clip starts up with a chick in a white leotard (more spandex!) looking confused in front of a serene picture of some hippy woman with flowers in her hair.  But then we’re in familiar territory with multi-colored leotards and tights in all shades of hot pink, blue, purple, peach – like a human Easter basket.  She starts out the routine with pelvic thrusts that would look inappropriate, but she’s so thin I don’t think she actually has a pelvis.  She stays chipper through the entire ten minutes.

But if you really want upbeat, look no further than Richard Simmons!  He is truly a freak of nature inspiration.  This clip of  “Sweatin’ to the Oldies” begins with Richard just happening to show up on what looks like the set of Sesame Street, where some random people are just hangin’ out, playing with hula hoops.  You know, the usual street stuff.  He asks if they want to dance and they all hop up and down.  This video differs from the others in that, for some reason, these people are not already in shape.  I mean, wtf, why are they doing an exercise video then?

Richard himself resembles an undercooked, malnourished turkey, but you can’t beat him for enthusiasm.  Check out his glittery tank top and short shorts.  Then pray that they never bring back those short shorts on men.  There are some fun dance moves, like on about 0.36,  where you move two fingers back and forth over your face and splay your legs out like disco dorks.

Of course, no flashback would be complete without a Jane Fonda clip.  Back in the 80s, Jane Fonda was the Queen of Exercise (Richard Simmons was the Princess).  She still does exercise tapes today, but much, much slower and a with a lot less bouncing.  This one’s her “New” workout from 1985 and features Jane, some other chick they keep focusing on (isn’t this Jane’s video?), and a girl wearing a visor, a purple crop top, yellow shorts, and a tan to literally die for – how long was she in the tanning bed?  The best one, though, is our token guy in the back wearing a crop top and red spandex pants so tight I’m surprised he’s breathing.  I admire a guy brave enough to bear his hairy midriff.

Well, that’s all for today, folks.  Aren’t you tired from all that exercise?  I know I got tired (and slightly nauseous) just watching them!  You just can’t beat the classics.  Stay tuned next time while I check out some more exciting and not at all terrifying exercise videos.

44 responses

  1. I am so excited that you featured Sweatin’ to the Oldies! I think if future historians ever want to define the 80’s, all they need to do is watch some of these videos.

    1. I can see them scratching their heads now. My daughters watched the clip and were dumbfounded. “Why is he wearing that? What is with his hair? Why is he so weird? What are they doing? That’s not exercising.” Most amusing.

  2. Richard Simmons!!!
    I can’t believe I had forgotten about him! How could I?
    Richard would be now a star on Glee, how things change.
    The head of shame made me laugh a lot and cough, then spit (still with the cold)
    I would like to add a video:

    1. Golden Girls! I love it. Especially how Rose just keeps imitating the girl when she gets a cramp.

  3. I will never forget the Sweating to the Oldies video my mother had when I was little. It started up in a fast food joint and Richard Simmons magically appears in the middle of an ice cream sundae! It was glorious, and a technological feat for the time (circa 1983).

    So does watching these count as my exercise for the day? 🙂

    1. I think so. It made my stomach heave a bit, which counts as abdominal curls. I love the ice cream sundae, oh lol. But I swear – doesn’t it look like he’s on Sesame Street there? It’s like the same light posts and everything.

      1. Yes! It is definitely Sesame Street-esque!

  4. So awesome! Thanks for digging out the clip from the Jane Fonda video…damn song is in my head again now. Also loved the comment about “Jillian”…funny enough, I wrote about her in one of my posts recently (she scares me too)!

    1. Do you have a link to it? Would love to read anything dissing that lady – she freaks me out.

        1. Thanks! I’ll check it out.

  5. If you choose to participate, I nominate you for the Versatile Blogger Award: http://musewriter.wordpress.com/2013/02/13/the-versatile-blogger/

    Cheers! 🙂

    1. Thank you. I’ll check it out.

  6. This is freaking awesome. I am going to do these videos… I LOVE IT.

    1. Aren’t they great? I was laughing my head off at some of these, and I even remember some of them. I know I wore legwarmers to elementary school. Totally cool, man.

      1. I have two pairs of legwarmers. I am definitely going to start wearing them more.

        1. We’re bringin’ ’em back!

          1. Sounds like a great pact!

  7. Talk about a blast from the past! I’m almost embarrassed to admit I’ve done that Firm workout AND the Jane Fonda one. Good God, is that woman really singing? How did I manage to keep a straight face back then? I was young. Very young. It’s my only defense…

    Great post!

    1. The people in the background absolutely crack me up. That poor guy especially. I mean, the cut off top and the pants, my gosh, those pants!

      1. It really was a scary decade.

  8. But, but, but… if they never bring back short shorts for me, then have my wardrobe will forever remain defunct. And my skinny white legs will forever remain shroaded in oversized cloth. That sounds terrible! I’m going to start a movement to bring back short shorts now!

    In other, sane, news: thanks for the laughs!

    1. On second thought, short shorts might not be quite as bad as the “my pants are six sizes too big and fall off my butt look” that is so popular these days.

      1. Oh man! That’s the other half of my wardrobe. Next your going to say that MC Hammer pants aren’t ever going to come back in style either.

        Maybe I should go shopping?

  9. So much to comment on… but suffice it to say when I did aerobics – my fitness place was right next to Dairy Chemical Cream – so me and my friend would flop thru the class, say “we’re doing go things for our bodies” and then get a peanut buster parfait.

    Richard Simmons – well…um…he’s frightening.

    1. Peanut buster parfaits ARE good for your body. There’s fiber in peanuts. And, um, there might be milk in the ice cream. Maybe.

      And yeah, he is. They should have made him a muppet on Sesame Street, since they used the set.

      1. Muppets run from Richard… He should have been in KISS – maybe he’s Gene Simmons’ long lost sparkly brother

        1. Could be! Who knows under all that makeup?

          Or he could be related to Elmo.

          1. Yes, he could have a hand up his bum controlling his every move….

  10. Haha! They’re all so funny how do you ever get any exercise done? And all of a sudden I really want some neon leg warmers.

    1. Me too. Actually, I got some black leg warmers for Christmas from my cousin. I have no idea why. They crack me up, though. I put them on, and my legs are not really that warm. But they are uber stylish.

      1. I always wondered if leg warmers really kept legs warm. What if they were too warm, would your legs only sweat at the ankles?

        Happy Valentine’s Day, Alice!

        1. Ha, speaking of ankles, do you remember those scrunchy socks? You’d wear like two or three pairs so you’d have three different colors, then you’d scrunch them up just so. God, we were stylish.

          1. Don’t remember scrunchy socks, but I googled it. Man, those are awesome! I’d wear them right now! Why did they ever go out of style?

  11. Alice, I enjoyed all your hilarious commentary. I’m going to find some spandex, and a visor, got to have that, and steal those cool moves from Richard Simmons. Y’gads!! Oh, and my purple leg warmers. I can see why the new trend is bootcamp!

    1. Bootcamp? Dare I ask about that trend? I think I’d probably be safer doing Richard’s moves than Pelvis Girl’s, or that Hippy guy’s – if you watch the tape, he bends his legs at unnatural angles. Eek.

  12. You know what’s really scary? The fact that leg warmers came back into fashion…

    1. That they were ever worn as fashion. Who invented those things? Didn’t we already have, you know, pants?

      1. And socks! But yeah, as garments go, legwarmers are definitely one of the most pointless. (I’m sure you’ll now find me something even more pointless, to prove me wrong.)

        1. Snuggies. I mean, just wear your robe backwards, right?

          1. Or just put more clothes on in the first place! If it’s that cold, wear a hat, for crying out loud.

  13. Some random thoughts. In exercise video #1, while I admire Exercise Man’s rough manliness, that is the hairiest Exercise Man I’ve ever seen. Did they thaw him from a block of ice? Is this Unfrozen Caveman Exercise Man?

    In video #3, I am disturbed by the men who feel more than comfortable dancing to “Where the Boys Are.” If this was a rave and they were covered in glitter and holding glow sticks, I’d be okay with it. But these guys have clearly given up on life.

    In the final video, all I have to say is, please, for the love of Hostess Twinkies, feed that damn woman in the gray and pink leotard. Her eyes are pleading for more than 800 calories a day.

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