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The 1980s word of fashion saw the aerobics and athletic wear craze sweep the world. Fuelled by smash hits like Olivia Newton John’s Physical, embraced by movie sensations like the iconic Flashdance and embodied by the Jane Fonda aerobics craze, the eighties saw the rise of many great fashion trends created with a workout in mind.

From spandex to neon colours to the iconic leotard, these are some of the best workout trends you would remember from the eighties. So grab your leg warmers and scrunchies, let’s get physical.


The Iconic Leotard

The leotard was one craze that was everywhere in the eighties. Remembered as the must have look at any gym or dance class, leotards came in every colour and allowed for maximum flexibility and movement when working out.

The humble leotard was loved by celebrities like Olivia Newton John, embraced on TV screens, and perhaps most famously often donned by the legendary Jane Fonda. For your own gym look, pair a leotard with some leg warmers to embrace an eighties vibe.

A Sweatshirt with Some Style

As any eighties fashionista will tell you, for a great workout outfit it is all about the little details. The sweatshirt grew to new heights of popularity in the eighties athletic scene but the truly trendy followed the lead of the stars of Flashdance and knew that to properly pull of this look, it should be an off the shoulder sweatshirt.

When you are rocking those eighties vibes, get your inspiration from this iconic eighties film and embrace the off the shoulder look.

Stretch and Shine, the Ultimate Workout Fabric

Eighties work out stars knew that when hitting up those aerobics classes, there was only one fabric that was king. That fabric was spandex. Used in everything from leotards to bike shorts to leggings, this stretchy fabric was all over the eighties athletic scene.

After all, who doesn’t remember the iconic outfits from the Olivia Newton John classic ‘Physical.’

All About that Hair

We all remember that in every eighties wardrobe there was one hair accessory that rose above the rest and that was humble scrunchie. Embracing the colour, vibrancy and energy that embodied this decade of decadence, a brightly coloured scrunchy holding a high ponytail added that extra element to any outfit.

Embraced by celebrities such as Madonna and Sarah Jessica Parker, try pairing a scrunchy with a leotard for you next workout.

If Not a Scrunchie then a Headband

In the eighties if you weren’t rocking a scrunchie at your Jane Fonda aerobics class then a headband was the way to go. Both functional and trendy, headbands were a stylish addition to the eighties world of athletic fashion.

Worn by the greats like Olivia Newton John and the legendary Jane Fonda herself, style a headband with leg warmers of the same colour for your next trip to the gym.

Spandex Tights

Worn under every leotard and with every off the shoulder sweatshirt were a quality pair of spandex tights. Popular in every colour imaginable and the brighter the better, the spandex tights craze took the athletic scene by storm.

A favourite of Kelly LeBrock and staple of every aerobics class around the world, a pair of colourful spandex tights and white sneakers were one of the most popular trends of the era.


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The thought of wearing a belt with a gym outfit may seem unusual today but in the world of eighties athletic fashion, this was a common sight. A solid coloured, thin belt worn around the waist over a leotard was a popular style at every corner gym in the eighties. When sporting this look, the belt colour should match the colour of your leg warmers to truly embrace this eighties style.

Bright and Colourful

As anyone from the eighties will remember, colour was king in this vibrant decade. Athletic wear embraced the neon trends of the eighties and one outfit often sported a variety of bright hues.

If you need inspiration when injecting colour into your next eighties inspired work out, look no further than legends like Madonna and Olivia Newton John who both embraced the neon trend with open arms.

The Bolder the Better

A quality eighties workout look though was about more than simply colour. Bold prints and patterns, particularly animal print, rose to particular prominence in the world of eighties athletic fashion.

Sported as work out attire everywhere from school gyms to music videos, anyone from the eighties will tell you that a leotard or spandex tights with a bold print was one of the top must have looks of the decade.

A True Eighties Favourite

Who can honestly say that they don’t remember the iconic leg warmers and who from the eighties can honestly say that they never sported this fashionable accessory?

A favourite of stars like Kylie Minogue, this workout look was so popular it was even adopted into streetwear trends of the day. To really capture that unique eighties look don some brightly coloured, knitted leg warmers for your next workout session.

There is no era of athletic fashion that is quite like the trends and styles that swept the world in the eighties workout fashion scene. From spandex to sweatshirts to iconic styles like leotards and legwarmers, everyone from the eighties has a fond memory of these classic work out styles.

Embraced by legends like Olivia Newton John, Jane Fonda and Madonna, it is no wonder that these looks soared to such level of popularity. When trying out your own eighties inspired gym look, remember to embrace bright colours and spandex and to have fun with it, after all the true spirit of the eighties was all about energy, excitement and fun.

About The Author

May is totally crazy about the 80s and everything the decade inspired! Having grown up in a household that was totally taken over by 80s music and fashion its only natural that May lives and breathes the 80s!

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