I had a doctor’s appointment earlier this week, and on the fifteen-minute drive to the clinic I passed three yoga studios. THREE.
It got me thinking about how workout styles go through cycles and trends, just like fashion. Right now it’s yoga. Not too many years ago it was Pilates; before that was spinning; and the 80s was all about aerobicizing.
Aerobics were so popular in the 80s that here in Canada we had a daily show that aired on City TV / CTV, after all the morning kids’ programming but before the afternoon soaps. Anyone remember The 20-Minute Workout? Because I’d had it all forgotten until Allison reminded me of it today, and now I can’t stop thinking about how bloody damn weird it was.
In case you don’t remember 20-Minute, here’s a full episode. Watch the first couple of minutes at least, just to get the idea:
This is probably the most 80s film clip on the internet. The spiral perms! The leg warmers! The synthesizer music!
I remember trying to do all twenty minutes. Even as a bouncy energetic kid, it was tough. The choreography was tricky. There is a warning at the beginning of every episode, warning you not to go hard, but I’ve been a perfectionist my whole life, so of course I did not “take it at my own pace”. I tried like hell to keep up with those slim perfect ladies and their heavy eyeshadow, and by the end I’d be gasping.
I wanted a unitard, but I didn’t have one. I used to pull my shorts up really high on the sides to try and approximate the look. One day it dawned on me that a unitard was basically a bathing suit, so I would run to my room after Sesame Street and change into my elderly Speedo before the workout started. I had leg warmers too – meant for winter, not the gym, but I didn’t care! – and I’d put those on, too.
I’d follow along, murmuring “and four more… and three more… two… one…” as I pulled my stomach in and lifted my knees up high.
I couldn’t have been the only kid obsessed with 20-Minute, because the 80s also brought us Hasbro’s “Get In Shape, Girl!” line of toys. I apologize for the quality of this clip, but oh man, does THIS take me back:
Weighted bracelets! Ribbons for rhythmic gymnastics! A pink cassette tape with scribbly 80s font!
And we wonder why as adult women we all have body-image issues???
I’m pretty sure I asked for this for Christmas, and I’m also pretty sure I didn’t get it. I don’t remember ever owning a ribbon-stick, although you’d better believe I would twirl the hell out of one if I had it right now.
It’s funny, but 20-Minute was the birth of my lifelong love/hate relationship with exercise classes. I still will try to do them every so often. I still struggle to get the choreography down. I still push myself too hard and wind up gasping on the floor.
And I still don’t have a unitard.