I have never understood why most gyms and fitness instructors insist on pumping out soulless, monotonous chart music. Yes, I understand that it tends to have a perfect tempo for workouts. I also know that it’s a safe bet for most – you can’t please everybody with your music selection, after all.
But if I’m pushing myself through 20 burpees, running a 5k or doing a round of crunches, I want to feel inspired by the beat and lyrics. What motivates me are catchy songs that have inspired me to do acrobatic moves on the dancefloor in the past. I am energised by lyrics that I’ve giddily screamed while jumping around my bedroom.
That’s mostly why I’m a big fan of 80s aerobics.
Back in the days when Covid-19 wasn’t even a word, I used to attend a morning legs, bums and tums class at my local gym solely because she played bangers like Yazz’s The Only Way Is Up while making us do old-school moves (think bouncy hamstring curls, V-steps and arm circles). It reminded me of my teenage years when I’d put on my bright blue cycling shorts and attempt to follow my mum’s Rosemary Conley workout video.
Aside from the total tunes that 80s aerobics delivers, it also just feels so fun – like I’m taking part in my own cringey VHS recording with my Lycra and permanent smile.
When we went into lockdown nearly a year ago, I did Joe Wicks’ PE Lesson two or three times a week and was really thankful that they helped me get through the tough times. However, there are only so many times a woman can do a set of star jumps to George Ezra’s Shotgun (I love you Wicksy, but your taste in music is… questionable).
So I was so ready to try something different when my friend suggested I try out the 80s aerobics workout led by Isaac Houston on Frame Online. I’ve repeated his session nearly every week ever since. I absolutely love doing “the pony” to Olivia Newton John, side-lying leg-lifts to Blondie and high-knees to Bonnie Tyler. It revives an energy that is so easy to lose in lockdown, and it reminds me that exercise can be so, so fun.
The best part is that I can do it in the comfort of my living room without any equipment. The bad part is that my flatmates and neighbours hear me screaming, “I need a hero!” at the top of my voice while doing a rumble.
When I told our fitness editor Meriam about my love for 80s aerobics, she revealed the same secret passion. “I had VHS tapes longer than anyone should have them for, until my husband made me throw them out when we were moving,” she said. “I used to do Denise Austen’s 80s workouts!”
Meriam’s revelation led me to look for more 80s aerobics workouts online…
Jane Fonda - Working Out
What would a list of 80s workouts be without the queen of aerobics, Jane Fonda? Admittedly, this isn’t exactly an easy half-hour workout, especially if you’re not very flexible like me. But it’s definitely worth a go and having some fun with.
If it’s good enough for out fitness editor… This Denise Austen workout really makes you work hard for a full hour but her energy is pretty infectious (how does she not even break out in a single bead of sweat?). You also don’t need any equipment and she talks you through how to do the moves properly.
Up for getting extra jazzy with your aerobics? Judi Sheppard’s Jazzercise Fit & Physical video is a half-hour full body workout that combines aerobic exercise and jazz dancing. Expect to hear a lot of whooping (which you might end up doing yourself).
Whichever one you try out, the main thing to remember is to just have fun with it. Let your body move to the beat, whoop and cheer as much as you want, and swing that hair.
Hollie is a digital writer at Stylist.co.uk, mainly covering the daily news on women’s issues, politics, celebrities and entertainment. She also keeps an ear out for the best podcast episodes to share with readers. Oh, and don’t even get her started on Outlander…