In the 1980s, aerobics was not only the most popular workout of the decade, but it was also the workout that brought physical fitness to the masses. In fact, you couldn’t go anywhere without seeing aerobics classes in action – from the local gym to your local YMCA.
So what exactly is aerobics? Aerobics is a cardiovascular exercise that is low-impact, high-intensity and uses a range of body movements to increase heart rate and build endurance. It has since been replaced by more intense workouts such as high-intensity interval training (HIIT) and plyometrics, but it remains one of the most popular types of exercise today.
The History of Aerobics:
The first ever aerobics class was created by Dr. Kenneth Cooper in 1968 when he began developing his theories on fitness and physical activity. He believed that individuals should exercise at least three times per week for 20 minutes at a time, at least 60 minutes total per week to get enough exercise for optimal health.
This idea led him to create his own aerobic class called “Aerobic Dance” in 1970 which he then expanded into “Aerobic Dancing” in 1972 which included music with a faster beat and included a series of movements that could be done at any level.
In 1974, Dr. Cooper published his book titled Aerobics which explained his theories on fitness and physical activity. The book became a bestseller and his theory became known as the “Cooper Aerobics” which included his ideas on aerobics and other exercises.
The book even spawned a fitness craze with people everywhere trying to get in shape with the “Cooper Aerobics” and people started joining aerobic classes in droves. In 1976, an aerobics class instructor named Barbara Harris-McLeod started teaching aerobics classes to the masses at her own studio in New York City called “Aerobic Dance Centers” (ADC).
She was soon joined by Jane Fonda who began teaching aerobics classes at her own studio called “Jane Fonda’s Workout Studio” (JFS). Her studio became hugely popular after it was featured on an episode of 60 Minutes in 1978. In 1981, Jane Fonda released her own aerobic video titled Jane Fonda’s Workout that went on to sell over 3 million copies!
Aerobic dance classes quickly became the most popular workout of the decade with women of all ages joining classes in droves. Jane Fonda was even dubbed “The Queen of Aerobics” and became a household name overnight.
Other aerobics instructors began teaching their own classes in their own studios and everyone wanted to be an aerobics instructor. Aerobic exercise was big business with many fitness equipment companies creating aerobic equipment specifically for use in aerobics classes such as the Reebok Step, the Reebok Stepper, the Schwinn Air-Dyne Bike, the Star Trac Treadmill and even Jane Fonda’s very own line of aerobic workout videos called “Jane Fonda’s Workout Series”.
Aerobic exercise was a low-impact workout that didn’t require any special equipment or expensive gym memberships. It was also relatively easy to learn as it required no athletic skills or experience. Women who couldn’t run due to knee injuries or joint problems could still get a great cardio workout by doing an aerobic class instead. And since you could do aerobics just about anywhere (as long as you had some space), there were plenty of studios popping up all over the place.
Aerobic classes became so popular that they spawned their own line of aerobics clothing such as leotards, leg warmers, tights and short shorts for women. Aerobic exercise was so popular that aerobics competitions were held, women’s aerobic fitness magazines were published and aerobics even became a category in the 1984 Summer Olympics.
The workout even spawned its own stars such as the aerobics instructor and actress Jane Fonda, the singer Donna Summer, the singer Helen Reddy and the singer Olivia Newton-John.
Aerobic exercise quickly became one of the most popular workouts of all time and was taught in virtually every type of fitness studio including health clubs, gymnasiums, community centers, schools, YMCAs and even some hospitals.
Aerobic exercise was so popular that it spawned a whole new line of aerobic exercise equipment that could be used for aerobics classes such as barbells, dumbbells, stability balls, medicine balls and even kettlebells. It was even used by celebrities such as Madonna, Jennifer Aniston, Jennifer Lopez and Oprah Winfrey.
Most Popular Aerobics Moves:
1. Aerobic Step
The Aerobic Step is one of the most popular moves in any aerobics class. It is a low-impact workout that involves stepping up and down on a step platform. It can be done with either your arms or your legs, but it is usually done with your arms.
To do the Aerobic Step, stand facing away from the step platform with your feet together and place both hands on the platform. Step up onto the platform with one foot and bring your other foot up to meet it. You can also step down from the platform by placing both feet together and stepping down onto the floor or by placing one foot on top of the other as you lower yourself down to the floor.
2. Leg Lift
The Leg Lift is a great move for the lower body. It is an isolation exercise that isolates the lower body muscles by working each leg individually. It is done while standing on the floor with your feet together and hands on your hips. To do the Leg Lift, raise one leg out to the side and up toward your waist as high as you can without moving your hips or torso. Then lower it back down to the floor and repeat with the other leg.
The Inchworm is a great move for toning up your upper body, especially your back and shoulders. It is also a great stretch for your hamstrings and calves if you perform it with bent knees at first. It can be done while standing or sitting on the floor, but it’s best to start with it while standing before you try it from a seated position. To do the Inchworm, start by leaning forward from your waist with both hands on the floor in front of you as if you were going to do a push-up. Then walk forward on your hands until you are in a plank position (in which only your toes are touching the ground). Then walk backward until you are in a push-up position.