In this section, we take a look back at the 80s fitness craze that swept the nation. You will also find a big range of 80s workout costume ideas, and we link to the best suppliers on the most trusted store on the web, Amazon.


Clothing Categories

Start Up with Jane Fonda 1986 VHS Video
Jane Fonda's Workout Video 1987

Aerobics, Fitness and Dance classes became big business in the 1980s and people were going crazy for the clothing that the big stars of the day were wearing. 

To authentically re-create the style is relatively simple. You can buy a ready-made costume, or you can easily buy the separate items at Amazon, which is actually a lot more cost-effective. 

For a 1980s fitness look, you'll need a leotard or running shorts, leggings or tights, leg warmers and sweatbands. 

If you choose a leotard then add a white or neon belt as in the Jane Fonda videos featured on this page.

Pastel and neon colors, candy stripes, paint splatter patterns, geometric shapes, animal print, shiny/metallic lycra or just plain black were popular choices.

Most Popular 80s Fitness Clothing

Create a Flashdance Look

Jennifer Beals as Alex in Flashdance
The Alex (Jennifer Beals) Flashdance 80s movie style is one of the easiest 80s looks to re-create, and all that is required is a gray, over-sized, off-shoulder sweatshirt, a black leotard and some black leggings. Of course, you don't have to replicate the look exactly and you can express yourself by using different colors and accessories.

80s Leotards

80s fitness dancing class

Choosing the right leotard for you

Purple, fuschia, and pink colors were very popular choices in the 80s, although the rules aren't set in stone and a whole variety of pastel, candy stripe and neon colors were also adopted.

If you choose a busy-looking leotard (e.g. leopard print/patterned) then accompany it with mono-colored leg warmers and scrunch up around your ankles. Choose a plain leotard and you can add striped, patterned, multi-coloured, ribbed or just plain leg warmers. Tights or leggings are entirely optional. Add a belt to further enhance the eighties look.


80s Fitness Shorts

Fitness shorts (Dolphin shorts) were generally short and tight in the 1980s and the interlock style (with a different colored band on the bottom of the legs and up the sides with a slit) and drawstrings were very popular. Wear with leggings/tights and leg warmers. 

80s Leggings

In the 80s, women ditched their pants for tight and clingy leggings. They came in a wide variety of loud colors and styles including shiny spandex, splatter patterns, animal print, neon, geometric designs or even just plain. Lace edging was also popular, as were lace cycling shorts, although they weren't much use or aerobics and dance. Tight leggings were often worn with oversized, baggy sweaters with batwing sleeves, but leggings became so popular that they were worn with just about everything! 

80s Leg Warmers

Knitted Leg Warmers in an 80s Magazine
Girl wearing Interlock Drawstring Shorts and Leg Warmers in the 80s
Leg Warmers worn over jeans

Leg warmers were worn with just about everything, even over your jeans! 

You can choose just about any color and style of leg warmers to go with your costume. Don't be afraid to experiment with clashing colors, many ladies went to aerobics classes wearing truly horrendous color combinations! Choose stirrup leg warmers that go over your foot for an eighties dance style.

Some sources would have you believe that everything was neon in the eighties. That truly was not the case. Ribbed, striped, pastel, rainbow, stirrup, footless - the choice is almost endless!

I've added some genuine photos from the 1980s to help give you some inspiration.

80s Knitting Pattern for girls string vest, mittens, leg warmers, kit bag and matching cushion!

A crazy 80s knitting pattern for a girls string vest and matching accessories including leg warmers, mittens, headband, kit bag and even a matching cushion! 

80s Fitness Tank Tops

These tops are ideal for wearing with shorts, leggings and leg warmers to create a fitness style. There are many more ideas on our 80s T-shirts page for women.

80s Sweatbands

Wristbands and headbands are, of course, an optional extra. However, they really do add the finishing touch to a costume and give it an extra fun 80s look.  

You can see more 80s Clothing at our sister site 80sfashion.clothing


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