Sweatin' In Spandex: A 1980s Workout Mix

Salt N Pepa w DJ Spinderella i i

hide captionSalt N Pepa's "Push It" is a classic jam in its own right, but it also holds particular relevance to 1980s fitness.

Michael Ochs Archives/Stringer/Getty Images
Salt N Pepa w DJ Spinderella

Salt N Pepa's "Push It" is a classic jam in its own right, but it also holds particular relevance to 1980s fitness.

Michael Ochs Archives/Stringer/Getty Images

From the Brat Pack to the Rubik's Cube, Thriller, "Where's the Beef?" and fanny packs, the goofiness of '80s popular culture extended its stay well into the '90s — or what's come to be known as the residual '80s.

Amongst this explosion of unselfconscious revelry, of course, stands the illustrious 1980s fitness regimen: Jane Fonda workouts on VHS, bodybuilding contests, neon Spandex, American Gladiators and more, all wrapped up in one unreal experience.

While many elements contribute to the quintessential '80s workout, "spectacle" easily qualifies as the most important trait. Just as a tree falling in the forest doesn't make a sound if no one is there to listen, so too will your muscles not flex properly if no one is there to watch. To that end, try out this mix of '80s classics to ensure that your workout is as gawky as can be.

Sweatin' In Spandex: A 1980s Workout Mix

Men Without Hats cover

The Safety Dance

  • Artist: Men Without Hats
  • Album: Rhythm of Youth

Warming up, while generally considered an essential step in avoiding injury, can easily serve as the centerpiece of any given '80s workout. There's merit in preventing your average groin strain, of course, but there's so much more to be gained from a proper stretching regimen. "Safety Dance," by the new-wave wizards in Men Without Hats, serves as excellent inspiration here: Explore the space you're about to grace with your sweat. Don't just stretch -- glide. Imposing on the personal space of others is encouraged, so long as you do so with earnest pizzazz. Should any bystanders get injured as a result, do not apologize. The injured party must not have warmed up properly.

Hear "The Safety Dance" on YouTube.

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  • "The Safety Dance"
  • Album: Rhythm of Youth
  • Artist: Men Without Hats
  • Label: MCA Records
  • Released: 1982
 
The Human League cover

Don't You Want Me

  • Artist: The Human League
  • Album: Dare!

Now that you've got your body loose, let's make sure that your mental game is tight. The ultimate aim of this gun show should be to enthrall potential suitors, but don't forget about No. 1. In the spirit of Narcissus, you should be catching your own eye as much as possible; when you ask yourself, "Don't you want me?" the answer ought to be an emphatic, "Yes, you Greek god." Should your gym lack an acceptable mirror, do not hesitate to place yourself in a mental montage sequence -- think Muscle Beach, red convertibles, Flashdance. If you can't visualize your own glory in the '80s workout, you can't handle the '80s workout.

Hear "Don't You Want Me" on YouTube.

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  • "Don't You Want Me"
  • Album: Dare!
  • Artist: The Human League
  • Label: A&M Records
  • Released: 1981
 
Salt N Pepa cover

Push It

  • Artist: Salt 'N Pepa
  • Album: Hot, Cool & Vicious

Salt N Pepa's "Push It" is a classic jam in its own right, but it also holds particular relevance to '80s fitness. Push-ups and bench pressing are part of the equation, sure, as is pushing the tempo in general. But more importantly, "Push It" laid the groundwork for the "Hokey Pokey" of the '80s: spelling your name in the air with your butt. Should you be a newcomer to this hips-heavy method, try pretending that you have a giant hula hoop around your waist and twist accordingly. When performed correctly, this technique will do wonders for your physique -- and your self-esteem.

Hear "Push It" on YouTube.

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  • "Push It"
  • Album: Hot, Cool & Vicious
  • Artist: Salt 'N Pepa
  • Label: London
  • Released: 1986
 
Breakwater cover

Release the Beast

  • Artist: Breakwater
  • Album: Splashdown

Let's get one thing straight: In the '80s workout, there is no such thing as a "friendly" pick-up game. There are the games you win and the games that end prematurely because someone gets hurt. When you finally "release the beast" (typically at the height of your activity), do not let your voice falter. Think "banshee," "ambulance siren" and "Axl Rose trapped in a flaming elevator." There's a good reason why Daft Punk's members couldn't improve upon this song when they sampled it for "Robot Rock" in 2005: They were intimidated.

Hear "Release The Beast" on YouTube.

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  • "Release the Beast"
  • Album: Splashdown
  • Artist: Breakwater
  • Label: Import
  • Released: 1980
 
Yello cover

Oh Yeah

  • Artist: Yello
  • Album: Stella

Say you've got an hourlong workout planned out. At least half of that time needs to be dedicated to this final step: showing off your body. Locate a particularly ostentatious spot in your gym and begin to work up your compliments per minute (CPM) at a comfortable pace. With a workout, your CPM should fall somewhere between 5 and 7, depending on the volume of gym membership, with regular two-minute intervals of "hard-to-get" and "in-your-face" flexing. Be careful not to dehydrate your ego, though -- should your CPM fall to dangerous levels, it may cause irreversible damage to your image. Respect the '80s workout, and it will respect you.

Hear "Oh Yeah" on YouTube.

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  • "Oh Yeah"
  • Album: Stella
  • Artist: Yello
  • Label: Mercury
  • Released: 1985
 

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