Old-School Workout Trends That Will Still Make You Sweat Today

80s workout
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These timeless exercise options, including 80s workouts and 90s dance trends, are still effective and fun.

01 of 09

Your Favorite New (But Old) Workout Trends

Zumba, barre, or CrossFit might be the workout trends of today, but they aren't exactly *new* to the fitness scene. In fact, many of your favorite workouts are probably older than you may even realize (dating back to 80s workouts, 90s dance classes, and more).

Discover why these popular forms of movement are still going strong—and getting results!—even after all these years.

02 of 09

Barre Workouts

What it used to be: Lotte Berk Method. Originally developed by the once famous European dancer Lotte Berk in the late '40s, the Lotte Berk Method is a unique fusion of ballet, Pilates, and sculpting. The technique made its way to the U.S. in 1971, when an American named Lydia Bach opened the first studio in Manhattan's upper east side.

After studying with Berk in London for a year, Bach was so taken by the method's unique results that she purchased the rights to Lotte Berk's name and technique to bring the '70s workout to the States. Now the class described as "an all-round fitness program that will yield muscular strength, beautifully sculpted bodies, flexibility, and caloric burn" is at the root of popular workouts like Pure Barre, Exhale's Core Fusion, and other barre-inspired trends.

Why is it still a hit? Because it works (and it can make you seriously sweat!), says Suzanne Bowen, a certified Lotte Berk instructor and creator of BarreAmped. With a heavy focus on the abs, hips, thighs, and glutes, this high-repetition, small-pulse method of movement is a '70s workout that stands the test of time. It burns calories, builds lean muscle, and improves balance, coordination, and flexibility.

03 of 09

Dance Cardio

What it used to be: Hi/Lo Aerobics. A popular workout in the 70s that really hits its stride as a favorite 80s workout, hi/lo (which stands for high- and low-impact) aerobics classes taught choreographed, dance-like routines with moves like grapevines, step touches, and knee lifts. "When high-impact aerobics hit the scene, it fulfilled the primary goal of fitness in those decades: to be aerobically fit," says Michele Olson, Ph.D., professor of exercise physiology at Huntingdon College in Montgomery, Alabama. Fast forward and there's now a re-emergence of a new style of hi/lo in the form of dance cardio routines in the form of dance classes that double as cardio workouts (hello, 305 Fitness), at-home dance workouts, and super fun dance-inspired workout videos.

Why is it still a hit? It's a fun, very effective way to torch calories while building agility and coordination. Basically, it's a legitimate way to improve cardio fitness while partying your way through an hour of sweat, Olson says. Sign us up.

04 of 09

Bodyweight Training or Boot Camp

What it used to be: Calisthenics—equipment-free moves such as jumping jacks, pushups, and sit-ups—were first made popular back in the 60s by exercise guru Jack Lalanne. They're still whipping people into shape, but today you might see them billed more as boot camp-style workouts or simply bodyweight training. (Add these bodyweight moves to your routine for *serious* strength gains.)

"These exercises are a legitimate way to develop strength and muscular endurance," Olson says. The only difference between yesterday's workouts and today's? We have even more variety of these types of bodyweight moves (like spiderman pushups, dragon pushups, plyo jacks, the list goes on) which add more variety to your routine and help work the core muscles at numerous angles, she adds.

Why is it still a hit? Whether you call it calisthenics or bodyweight training, the results are the same: improved strength, endurance, and overall fitness without the need for any equipment at all.

05 of 09


What it used to be: Jazzercise. Most traditional dance classes, with their stop-and-start choreography and necessary skill mastery, are just too complicated for the average exerciser to follow along and get a good workout. But that changed in 1969, when Jazzercise founder Judi Sheppard Missett introduced her easy-to-follow fusion of aerobics and dance moves that led to the 80s workouts (and outfits!) you're thinking of. And while Jazzercise is still a popular way to sweat, the same party-like atmosphere is what attracts hoards of women to Zumba classes today. Created by fitness instructor Beto Perez, Zumba merges Latin-inspired dance styles (a la the merengue, salsa, and cumbia) with more popular trends (think: Reggaeton and hip hop) in an easy-to-follow class format.

Why is it still a hit? Zumba is a fun and easy way to work up a sweat, sure—but it also offers some serious benefits, says Pete McCall, C.S.C.S., an exercise physiologist for the American Council on Exercise. "There is plenty of research that demonstrates dance is effective for developing cardiorespiratory fitness and providing numerous benefits such as calorie burning, lowering cholesterol, reducing the risk of onset diabetes, and strengthening the lower-body muscles," he says. (

06 of 09


What it used to be: No-frills weightlifting. Forty years ago, gyms looked *very* different than they do today (which tend to blend the line between medical care and fitness, often have a big focus on recovery, and even think about opening selfie rooms). But here's the thing: Bodybuilders doing 70s workouts and 80s workouts are very much the grandparents of today's CrossFit workout.

"Low-tech weight lifting has been a mainstay in fitness," Olson says. "It was originally used by bodybuilders and powerlifters, lifting heavy iron in basements, warehouses, or garages—which goes to show that truly amazing feats of fitness are not about bells and whistles," Olson says. Today's most popular "no frills workout," CrossFit, has participants complete a WOD [Workout of the Day] which often includes doing as many reps as possible (AMRAP) of moves like squats, pull-ups, and box jumps in a more bare-bones gym setting.

Why is it still a hit? "While this workout may not be for everybody in every age group, lifting iron of any kind, from dumbbells to bars to iron chains, will produce strength and muscularity," Olson says.

07 of 09

Aerial and Trampoline Classes

What it used to be: Mini trampolines initially gained popularity a few decades ago as an 80s workout when NASA-commissioned research found that bouncing on a trampoline offered an effective alternative to the treadmill.

One study from the American Council on Exercise (ACE) also showed that women who did a trampoline-based workout burned an average of 9.4 calories per minute—about the same as running at a 10-minute-mile pace, even though it felt easier. Today? Classes like the pop-up JumpHouse workout and Bari studio's Bounce in New York City, Bellicon Studio in Chicago, and Body by Simone's Trampoline Cardio in Los Angeles do group cardio-strength classes. You can also stream routines like BarreAmped Bounce (a barre-meets-plyometrics workout) and Booya Fitness.

Why is it still a hit? It's the perfect workout for people with lower-body issues, such as ankle, knee, hip, or low-back pain," McCall says. "The elasticity of the trampoline allows the body to move without the additional stress of ground reaction force." So walking or jogging in place on a mini-trampoline can provide the benefits of the movement without the stress of the impact.

08 of 09


What it used to be: Kettlebells. The most old school workout of all, kettlebells were first introduced in the 1700s—but not for the body-shaping benefits they're used for today (here are all the epic benefits you get from *just* the kettlebell swing). Russian kettlebells were originally used as weights in simple pulley systems that moved produce to the marketplace, says Olson. Since there were no dumbbells available, people began swinging and lifting kettlebells to help develop strength and stamina, and eventually, kettlebell competitions became Russia's national sport. (

Just a couple of centuries later, kettlebell training gained esteem in the U.S. "Serious weight lifters began using them because of the variety they offer," says Olson. Today, you'll find kettlebells in weight rooms and on Target store shelves across the nation, proving that this "old" fitness tool is in high demand (why wouldn't it be? It can give you the butt of your dreams).

Why is it still a hit? A kettlebell is one of the most efficient, effective fitness tools. Because the weight isn't evenly distributed, your whole body has to work in harmony to stabilize and control the changing center of gravity. Research has also shown that kettlebell exercises are an excellent cardio workout, zapping about 20 calories per minute when you do multiple reps and sets.

09 of 09

80s Music


Haters of 80s workouts can step aside now. Whether you're on the treadmill or pushing yourself to new strength training gains, the right 80s music—Top Gun anthems, the best Michael Jackson album (you know Thriller is unmatched), and some Whitney and Paula—can carry you through *any* workout. Check out this playlist that proves it.

Ultimate 80s Workout Playlist:

  • "Playing with the Boys"- Kenny Loggins
  • "Beat It"- Michael Jackson
  • "We Built This City"- Starship
  • "867-5309 / Jenny"- Tommy Tutose
  • "Walk This Way"- Run-D.M.C. and Aerosmith
  • "I Wanna Dance With Somebody"- Whitney Houston
  • "Girls Just Want to Have Fun"- Cyndi Lauper
  • "Pour Some Sugar On Me"- Def Leppard
  • "I Ran"- A Flock of Seagulls
  • "Maniac"- Michael Sambello
  • "No Sleep Till Brooklyn"- Beastie Boys
  • "Sister Christian"- Night Ranger
  • "P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)"- Michael Jackson
  • "Footloose"- Kenny Loggins
  • "Rio"- Duran Duran
  • "Call Me"- Blondie
  • "(I Just) Died in Your Arms"- Cutting Crew
  • "Straight Up"- Paula Abdul
  • "The Stroke" Billy Squier
  • "You Give Love a Bad Name"- Bon Jovi
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