Fashionable 80s workout clothes was a must have in the 1980s. People were becoming more health conscious, and the fashion renaissance of the time meant that you needed a great 80s workout outfit for the gym as well.
Working out really became mainstream during the 1980s, and movie stars like Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone, as well as 80s fitness gurus like Jane Fonda for the ladies made it en vogue to be in shape. Working out became cool and hip, and when you were at the gym, looking good was just as important as the workout to many at the time.
Movies like “Perfect” (1985) starring John Travolta and Jamie Lee Curtis highlighted the exploding popularity of health and fitness during the 80s, and who could forget the hot aerobics class scenes from the movie that really encapsulated the trend at the time:
80s Workout Clothes
Everyone wanted to look good while they were getting their sweat on, so there was an increase in demand for 80s workout fashion. Remember the 80s was all about making a statement with your fashion choices, and going to the gym was no different!
The following were some of the popular 80s workout clothes you needed to wear:
Probably the most iconic look of 80s workout clothes were spandex. Women were particularly drawn to spandex fashion as it was a popular choice for aerobics classes which were all the rage during the 1980s. The material was tight fitting and also caused you to sweat a lot, which was ideal if you wanted to shed some pounds.
Of course if you were wearing spandex bright colors was also a must. Purple, blue, pink, and green were common colors people wore during the 1980s when it came to spandex workout outfits.
During the 80s, leggings were a big thing. They became known as “the go-to fashion” thanks to celebrities like Madonna and other celebrities who wore them everywhere!
When people think of 80s workout clothes now, they immediately picture leggings. It was the perfect item because it kept you warm during cold weather, and gave you good flexibility during intense aerobics classes which made them the perfect addition to any 80s workout outfit.
Leotards were huge in the 80s thanks to fitness gurus like Jane Fonda. These one piece fashions worked really well for exercising, and they also made a statement in and out of the gym. They are also the signature piece of the 80s aerobics outfit that most will remember.
What made them really popular was they were ubiquitous when it came to 80s fitness, so you almost had to have them since everyone else did. Women all across the country who were gym regulars usually had at least one or two leotards to look fashionable in while also getting their sweat on!
4. Shell Suits
Another popular workout clothing item of the 80s were shell suits. These were usually made of cotton and sometimes had fleece on the inside.
It looked similar to a tracksuit but it wasn’t supposed to be worn for exercising, just for chilling out in after hitting the gym! Because of that, people started wearing them everywhere even if they weren’t working out.
5. Short Shorts
For men, when it came to working out short shorts were the pants of choice. Not only did it keep you cool during those intense cardio sessions, if you were fit it was a good way to show off some leg, and um, “other areas”.
Fitness guru Richard Simmons was famously known for wearing dolphin shorts during his workout videos, and male celebrities like Tom Selleck were known for wearing short shorts all the time. John Travolta also notably wore them during the famous aerobics scene in “Perfect” (1985).
6. Workout Gloves
You wouldn’t think something as mundane as workout gloves could be fashion, but you would be wrong! In the 80s if you wanted to go the extra distance, you could pick bright and flashy workout gloves while pumping iron to accent the rest of your workout fashion.
Workout gloves were the thing to wear if you really wanted to get in shape during the 80s. If someone wasn’t wearing workout gloves, you may have thought they didn’t care about their fitness enough. It was also acceptable to wear them with casual clothing even when people weren’t at the gym, but they were more popular with people who wore them to work out.
7. Athletic Armbands
No 80s workout outfit would be complete without some accessories to soak up sweat! Athletic armbands were the perfect 80s workout fashion trend that allowed you to easily wipe the sweat off your head (if you weren’t into headbands) while also staying stylish and cool.
Usually armbands were paired with matching headbands though to give the impression that you were serious about your fitness (and fashion).
8. Neon Headbands
Another popular workout clothing item of the 80s were neon headbands, and these often were in bright and gaudy colors! Nothing says you’re serious about working up a sweat than a big bright headband on your head!
Celebrities like Madonna made them look amazing by wearing them with sweat suits, but it wasn’t just for fun; they were actually functional. They kept your hair back while you were working out and that is why people wanted to wear them too!
Just like neon headbands, if you had long hair a neon scrunchie when working out was there to save the day! Scrunchies were a popular way to keep your hair tied up any time of the day, but they were especially helpful during those intense workouts.
When you were in an aerobics class giving it your all, the last thing you wanted was to overheat, and a scrunchie kept your hair up and looking fashionable as well. Bonus fashion points if they were neon and matched your outfit!
10. Muscle Tees
The 1980s was the heyday of bodybuilding, and if you were a bodybuilder during the time, you no doubt wanted to show off your gains. And what better way to do that then with barely there Muscle Tees.
Muscle Tees were basically tank tops that look like they were missing 30% of the material. Hugely popular in the bodybuilding community, they were a fashion staple in the 80s amongst the hardcore training crowd.
11. Zubaz Pants
Just like Muscle Tees, Zubaz Pants were also popular in the bodybuilding community. These pants looked like pajamas and they had wild zig zag designs on them.
If you wanted to let people know you were dedicated to the gym, you let them know with a pair of fresh Zubaz. These pants were fashionable to work out in, but also stylish enough to wear anywhere. Any 80s workout outfit needs a great pair of pants, and for men Zubaz pants fit the bill perfectly!
12. Velour Tracksuits
Another popular workout fashion trend in the 1980s were velour tracksuits. These were basically like the previously mentioned “sweat suit”, but they were made of “velour” which is a material that feels and looks like velvet.
These were popular with track athletes who wore them before track meets, but also popular as loungewear as well. They were also worn by breakdancers and popular hip hop fashion too.
13. Reebok Or Adidas Workout Shoes
And of course no 80s workout clothes ensemble would be complete without a great pair of Adidas or Reebok shoes on your feet. These were the two brands of shoes that really dominated the markets back in the 80s, and every athlete had their go-to shoe for sweating out in the gym.
However these shoes weren’t like the sleek and stylish designs of today’s athletic shoes, they were often quite bulky and look like something your Dad would wear today. They were also probably white with some tacky color for accents, and it’s safe to say athletic shoes have come a long way since the 1980s.
Are 80s Workout Clothes Still Popular?
These days 80s workout clothes are for the most part no longer seen in modern society. Spandex and Body Suits seemed to fade away into the ether in preference to more comfortable fitting workout clothes.
Perhaps the only 80s fashion that survived when it comes to workout clothes are neon headbands and armbands. However one can likely attribute them being around more due to function than to style. Sweat suits are also still around, but again probably due to more function than style.
Even though most of the aforementioned workout clothing trends are no longer popular, we will still always remember the 1980s when workout fashion was over the top. The looks were fun and cool, and it’s just another thing we miss from the best decade ever.