Who remembers these exercise fads?

Pole dancing, aerial yoga, spin classes – it might seem like fad exercises are a modern thing. Not so.

Cast your mind back to the golden decades of the 1980s and `90s when exercising in front of your TV exploded in popularity and all manner of weird and wonderful contraptions were dreamed up to help you attain the body beautiful.

We’ve put together some of the most popular exercises from that era, and even discovered how you can do them today. Leg warmers at the ready.

When was it popular?

Jazzercise was developed at the end of the 1960s but is firmly associated with the `80s when it had its heyday.

What is it?

It’s essentially choreographed moves to music. Jazzercise wasn’t designed with professional dancers in mind; rather, as a way for normal people to exercise in a fun way.

How can you do it now?

Good news. Jazzercise isn’t just a fad that didn’t quite make it into the new millennium (like velour tracksuits or bumbags). In fact, it’s still got a fairly large and devoted following.

Yes, it has a bit of a reputation for being for middle-aged mums but it’s fun for people any age. It’s dancing along to music in a non-judgemental space, so what could be bad about that?

You can search for your nearest Jazzercise class on this website.

Jane Fonda’s workouts
When was it popular?

Big hair, legwarmers, leotards: it’s got to be the 1980s.

What is it?

Back then, there was a craze for aerobic workouts, particularly aimed at women who preferred exercising in front of a videotape in their living room to braving male-dominated gyms.

Jane Fonda’s workouts tapped into this – they were videos you could work out to at home, with a focus on the female body. And, of course, there were those obligatory pumping `80s beats.

Her workout video is one of the most popular VHS tapes of all time.

How can you do it now?

You can still do Jane Fonda’s workouts from the comfort of your living room. If you don’t have access to a dusty VHS machine, you can order a DVD of the workouts or find them on YouTube.

Step aerobics
When was it popular?

Aerobics exploded in popularity in the 1980s, and step was a further manifestation of this.

What is it?

Similar to Jane Fonda’s workouts but with the addition of a step. You step over and around the box step, following the instructor’s choreographed moves to music.

Coordination is definitely a must for this one.

How can you do it now?

Unlike Jane Fonda’s workouts, step has stood the test of time and is still offered in many gyms as an exercise class.

But don’t worry. The music in most classes these days has fortunately been freshened up.

The original step class was invented by Gin Miller, an American woman who came up with the concept when an orthopaedic doctor suggested she step up and down on a milk crate as rehabilitation for a knee injury. She has recently updated the format by inventing the KUSHH! It’s like a step but with a soft and unstable surface to really test your balance.

Tae Bo
When was it popular?

Billie Blanks came up with Tae Bo in his Boston basement in 1992 before taking his expanding business to California.

What is it?

Tae Bo stands for ‘total awareness of excellent body obedience’ – not exactly the catchiest of names, so best to stick to Tae Bo.

The name is also a mix of Taekwondo and boxing, combining elements from both practices but at a faster pace and with some dance inspiration.

How can you do it now?

Unfortunately for Tae Bo lovers, the exercise fell so out of fashion, you would be hard-pressed to find a class teaching it anywhere nearby.

But the good news is Billy Blanks still sells his DVDs, so you can get the full Nineties experience by following his workout in the comfort of your home.

When was it popular?

Invented in the 1970s, NordicTrack sold the most ski machines in the early 1990s, thanks in part to the excess of infomercials on TV extolling its virtues.

What is it?

It’s similar to a running or step machine you see in gyms today, but for skiing. You might feel a little silly doing it but replicating the skiing movement on the machine is meant to be an incredible workout.

How can you do it now?

Unfortunately, a skiing machine is not a common piece of apparatus at your local Fitness First. However, don’t despair if you want the skiing experience without the cold, because NordicTrack still sell the classic skier, along with more conventional exercise machines.

When was it popular?

We would argue that the 1990s was the golden age of the infomercial, something that really helped the Thighmaster take off.

If you’re of that era you’ll probably remember the adverts showing just how much you could do while toning your thighs.

What is it?

For those who aren’t filled with nostalgia when they hear the word ‘Thighmaster’, it’s a clever contraption of two looped metal wires you squeeze between your legs to tone them up.

It was multi-purpose and could also be used for other parts of the body, such as your chest or arms.

Where can you do it now?

In front of the telly, of course. Well, you’ll need to get your own Thighmaster first and then you can do it anywhere.

Did you participate in any of these exercises? Do you still do any today?

With PA

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Written by YourLifeChoices Writers

YourLifeChoices' team of writers specialise in content that helps Australian over-50s make better decisions about wealth, health, travel and life. It's all in the name. For 22 years, we've been helping older Australians live their best lives.

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