Wow. Cate and Susan have very different memories and current enjoyment of 80s style aerobics workouts. (They actually say 80s and 90s style but I confess I was too busy with small children in the 90s–they were born in 92, 96, and 98–to do workouts of any kind other than towing them places in the bike trailer or strolling them to sleep. It’s a blur!)
Here’s some shots of active life in the 90s! Check out my long hair.
But back to the 80s.
And even the 70s. I’ll start there actually. It was junior high school and I was in the gifted class. It was Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, at Eric Graves Memorial Junior High, in grade 7. I had come from the Catholic school system in another province where we wore school uniforms. I still wore dresses and skirts because I was used to them (uncool) and I still had all one length long hair (also uncool). There was a dance club that was full cool girls and complicated choreography. The songs were things like, “Working at the Car Wash.”
These girls make it look it easy. It wasn’t. I couldn’t keep up or remember the choreography. I was asked to leave the club. They took me aside and told me that I was holding them back. Sob sigh.
Fast forward to high school. There was an exercise studio opening at the local mall. The dress code was leotards and tights, leg warmers. This was the Jane Fonda/Farrah Fawcett era. I was thinner, more fashionably dressed. I don’t remember what all the exercise routines were. I just know that I felt fat, clumsy, and out of place. Everyone seemed very lithe and very coordinated. This time since they were taking my money they didn’t ask me to leave. I quit.
The third time is the charm? In grad school–started in 88, finished in 93– I spent a year in a tiny apartment in a funky downtown building, River City. It had many charms including being walking distance to the University of Illinois at Chicago campus and the lake. It also had a fitness club. It was my first time going to commercial gym (rather than university gym) with weights and treadmills and group fitness classes. I loved the dance-y style aerobics classes. I learned to dance to disco ironically and joyfully all at the same time. We listened to musicals. Lots of the instructors were gay men. For the first time I was in an environment that was racially diverse, size diverse, and sexual orientation diverse. I continued taking classes through my pregnancy. I don’t even remember what I wore or what I looked like. I do remember having fun.
What changed? Obviously it was a different environment–more Richard Simmons and less Jane Fonda. More laughter, less angst and anxiety. But I was also a different person. I was en route to getting my PhD. At the end of my time there I was en route to being a parent. There was a lot going on in my life and very little of it was attached to my looks or my coordination. I was weightlifting, I was sailboat racing, and I was riding my bike around town. I’d found my place in the world. I was confident and I could laugh when I got things wrong.
Here’s Richard Simmons from that era.
Now there’s a whole new world of dance fitness.
I tried dance fitness classes at GoodLife a few years back. I liked Zumba but there was also a “sexy” dance fitness class with so called “stripper” moves and I loathed it. It took me back to the bad Jane Fonda days of high school, not the fun campy dancing of grad school. So back to Cate and Susan’s post I can feel both of their reactions. I’ll give a hard no to performative femininity in my fitness classes, but once I have new knees I’ll happily dance for fun and fitness.
More fun dance style fitness things here.
And here’s Eight of the best dance workout videos on YouTube.