What was 80s workout fashion?

Fitness apparel experienced a prosperous and exciting decade in the 1980s. Fitness clothing from the 1980s has come to be associated with vibrant colors, dazzling decorations, and a distinct sense of style as a result of the growing fitness movement and the popularity of aerobics. Modern fitness wear, from classic leg warmers and leotards to headbands and high-top sneakers, continues to find inspiration from this era’s workout fashion, which embraced a unique fusion of usefulness and glamour.

The 80s workout movement was heavily influenced by loud and striking clothing. The bright colors that dominated the scene, including brilliant pinks, yellows, and greens, made it difficult to ignore workout apparel. Women looked sleek and sporty in form-fitting leotards that were usually worn with tights or leggings. Men preferred to dress in loose-fitting tracksuits or shorts with tank tops or sweatbands as compared to women. The gym attire of the day, which exuded self-assurance and self-expression, represented the active mindset of the 1980s.

Accessories were a significant component of gym apparel in the 1980s, adding style and personality to the outfit. Wide and thin headbands were widely worn by both men and women to tie their hair back and provide a little bit of style. On the wrists, arms, and even the ankles, sweatbands and wristbands of all kinds were worn. Leg warmers quickly became well-liked as a fashion accessory, despite its primary purpose of keeping legs warm during warm-ups. People put them over tights or leggings to create a layered, dynamic look for themselves. These accessories not only boosted the aesthetic appeal but also communicated the passion and dedication to exercise that defined the 1980s fitness culture.

80s Workout Clothes

The popularity of 80s fitness attire increased as more people desired to look beautiful while working up a sweat. Remember that in the 1980s, going to the gym was just as much about making a statement with your wardrobe as anything else!

The following were some of the fashionable workout attire you required in the 1980s:

1. Spandex

Pretty young red headed woman with fit body gym

Spandex was probably the most recognizable style of fitness attire in the 1980s. Due to its popularity in aerobics courses, which were huge in the 1980s, spandex apparel was especially appealing to women. If you wanted to lose weight, the material’s tight fit and high level of perspiration were great.

Naturally, wearing bright colors was also required if you were wearing spandex. When it comes to spandex fitness attire in the 1980s, people frequently donned purple, blue, pink, and green.

2. Leggings

Cheerful woman wearing colorful sportswear during stretching workout against purple

Leggings were popular in the 1980s. Thanks to Madonna and other famous people who wore them everywhere, they became regarded as “the go-to fashion”!

Now, when people think of fitness attire from the 1980s, leggings come to mind. It was the ideal accessory for any 1980s fitness attire because it kept you warm during cold weather and provided you with good flexibility during challenging aerobics lessons.

3. Leotards

Dressed for a workout session in the 80s

Thanks to fitness experts like Jane Fonda, leotards were very popular in the 1980s. These one-piece outfits looked great while training and were also fashionable outside of the gym. Additionally, they serve as the most recognizable part of the 80s aerobics attire.

When it came to 80s fitness, they were so commonplace that you nearly had to have them since everyone else did. Women around the nation who frequented the gym typically had one or two leotards so they could appear stylish while working out!

4. Shell Suits

Shell suits for gym

Shell suits were another popular piece of exercise attire in the 1980s. These were frequently constructed of cotton and occasionally had fleece interiors.

Although it resembled a tracksuit, it was only intended to be used for lounging around after working out. People began wearing them everywhere as a result, even when they weren’t exercising.

5. Short Shorts

Athletic woman lifting weights

Short shorts were the preferred option of pants for guys exercising. In addition to keeping you cool during those strenuous aerobic workouts, it was also a terrific way to display your toned legs and, uh, “other areas” if you were in good shape.

Male celebrities like Tom Selleck were notorious for always wearing short shorts, while fitness expert Richard Simmons was well-known for donning dolphin shorts in his workout DVDs. They were prominently worn by John Travolta in the well-known aerobics sequence from “Perfect” (1985).

6. Workout Gloves

Workout Gloves

You’d be mistaken to believe that something as unassuming as workout gloves could be fashionable. When working out in the 1980s, if you really wanted to stand out, you could use dazzling, colorful workout gloves to complement your overall gym attire.

In the 1980s, wearing workout gloves was the thing to do if you were serious about becoming in shape. You might have assumed that if someone wasn’t wearing training gloves, they didn’t care enough about their fitness. Even when individuals weren’t at the gym, it was okay to wear them with casual attire, but they were more well-liked by those who wore them to exercise.

7. Athletic Armbands

Person wearing a black armband and a digital watch

Without some sweat-wicking gear, no exercise attire from the 1980s would be complete! If you weren’t into headbands, athletic armbands were the ideal 80s workout fashion trend that still allowed you to look stylish and cool while simply wiping the sweat off your head.

However, armbands were typically worn with matching headbands to convey a serious commitment to exercise (and style).

8. Neon Headbands

Neon Headbands

Neon headbands, which were sometimes in vivid and garish shades, were another common piece of workout wear in the 1980s. Nothing conveys your commitment to working up a sweat like wearing a large, vibrant headband!

They weren’t just for fun; they were actually practical. Celebrities like Madonna made them seem beautiful by pairing them with sweat suits. Because they kept your hair back while you worked out, other individuals also wanted to wear them!

9. Scrunchies


When working out, neon scrunchies were much like neon headbands there to save the day if you had long hair! Any time of the day, scrunchies were a common technique to keep your hair held back, but those tough workouts were when they came in particularly handy.

A scrunchie kept your hair up and looking stylish while you gave it your all in an aerobics session. Overheating was the last thing you wanted. If they complemented your attire and were neon, bonus points for style!

10. Muscle Tees

Posh bar bartenders

If you were a bodybuilder in the 1980s, you probably wanted to flaunt your gains because that was the heyday of the sport. And with scarcely there Muscle Tees, what better way to achieve it.

Muscle Tees were essentially tank shirts with a material appearance of 30% missing. They were a stylish must-have for the hard-core training culture in the 1980s and were well-liked in the bodybuilding scene.

11. Zubaz Pants


Zubaz Pants were equally well-liked among bodybuilders as Muscle Tees. The crazy zigzag patterns on these pants gave them the appearance of pajamas.

A pair of brand-new Zubaz would be an effective way to communicate your commitment to the gym. These pants were attractive enough to wear everywhere and were also fashionable enough to work out in. Men’s Zubaz pants are the ideal choice for any 80s fitness look that calls for a superb pair of pants.

12. Velour Tracksuits

Kyle cassidy tracksuit

Velour tracksuits were another well-liked 1980s exercise-related fashion trend. These resembled the “sweat suit” from before, but they were made of “velour,” a substance that feels and looks like velvet.

These were popular as loungewear as well as with track competitors who wore them before to track competitions. Breakdancers and prominent hip hop fashion also wore them.

13. Reebok or Adidas Workout shoes

adidas logo on white running shoe

Of course, a fantastic pair of Adidas or Reebok sneakers are a must-have to complete your 80s fitness outfit. Every athlete had their go-to sneaker for working out at the gym when these two shoe manufacturers really ruled the market in the 1980s.

These shoes were frequently fairly hefty and resembled something your dad would wear today, not the sleek and fashionable styles of today’s sports footwear. Athletic shoes have undoubtedly improved since the 1980s, when they were likely white with some bright colors for decorations.

14. Leg Warmers

Close up woman putting on the leg warmer

Another essential item for completing a ’80s fitness costume are leg warmers. Wear these sleeve-like items, which have an opening to reveal the feet, bunched up about the ankles. Many dance attire supply companies provide leg warmers, but for convenience and cost-effectiveness, you may also cut the foot off a pair of big socks.

Are 80s Workout Clothes Still Popular?

Nowadays, 80s fitness attire is mostly absent from contemporary culture. More comfy fitting gym attire seems to be taking the place of spandex and bodysuits.

Neon headbands and armbands are maybe the only 80s fitness attire still in use today. However, it is likely that their continued existence is more owing to their usefulness than to their fashion. The fact why sweat suits are still in use is also likely related to function rather than design.

Even if the majority of the aforementioned exercise fashion trends have fallen out of favor, we will always remember them from the 1980s when they were at their utmost. It’s just another thing we miss from the greatest decade in history, but the aesthetics were fun and stylish.


The vibrant and colorful flair of the 1980s work out trend was what set it apart. It embraced bright colors, skin-tight fabrics, and accessories that gave the training outfit a little personality. With occasional returns and weary nods to this vivacious period, the ’80s exercise trend still inspires and influences sports clothing today.


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