Sweatin’ to the Oldies (and the Newsies): The Evolution of Workout Videos

There’s a certain luxury in being able to get a killer workout into your day without even leaving your living room. Like, for example, the fact that you can work out in your pajamas (it’s not practical, but it’s possible.) But really, it’s all about convenience, versatility, and the freedom of knowing that you can try new things, like that king pigeon pose you’ve been hoping to master, without worrying about looking silly in the company of your fellow gym rats.

Take a look at some of our favorite fitness video highlights from over the years, and get ready to start referring to your living room as your “home gym.”

The 80s

We’re grateful for a lot of what the 80s gave us (“Thriller” or Super Mario, Bros., anyone?) But more than anything, we’re just happy that we got to welcome Jane Fonda and Richard Simmons into our homes as our very own on-screen personal trainers thanks to their iconic videos “Workout” and “Sweatin to the Oldies,” respectively. Perhaps the best part of the rising workout video trend in the 80s is that it was inclusive. Sure, anybody could get a “Super Stomach” with Denise Austin, but videos like “Dancing Grannies” and “Blessercise: The Christian Workout” made sure to cater to more specific audiences in search of something different.

The 90s

The Spice Girls and scrunchies might have ruled the 90s, but the volume of workout videos and trends to come out of this decade clearly put fitness in a close third. From Billy Banks’ popular Tae Bo workout to Crawford’s “Buns of Steel” videos, with titles to suggest you’ll come out of them looking like the Terminator, at-home fitness was all the rage. This was also the decade of celebrity fitness videos. We’re talking everybody from Suzanne Somers to Fabio to Paula Abdul to Claudia Schiffer to Cher to Kris Jenner to Heather Locklear. Oh, and let’s not forget the gem that is Mark Wahlberg’s – ahem, Marky Marks’ – fitness video. Yes, that Mark Wahlberg. And yes, it is everything.

The 2000s

The millennium was all about making the workout video trend cool for a new generation for whom parents’ retro fitness VHS tapes had thus far been a (wildly effective) closet obsession. Hardcore trainers like Jillian Michaels and Shaun T came onto the fitness video stage with workouts like the 30-Day Shred and, the instant sensation, Insanity. Just like that, working out in your living room suddenly became a lot more intriguing and brag-worthy for young men and women alike.

Today

Nowadays most of us are too obsessed with our spinning classes or Crossfit gyms to consider an at-home workout, but that hasn’t stopped the workout video craze from powering on and adapting to a new age. Gone are the VHS tapes, and for the most part, the DVDs, too. Workout videos now live mostly online in the form of YouTube videos, like those from Fitness Blender and XHIT, and instant downloads from the chic websites of the most sought-after trainers. Which is perfect, because the convenience of working out in front of your TV when you can’t be bothered to leave the house is never really going to get old. Plus, there was that time that Michelle Obama showed us all up in her very own workout video. If workout videos have the first lady’s seal of approval, it’s safe to say we’re on board. 

About Tamara Rahoumi

Tamara Rahoumi is a writer on The Path Editorial Team.  She is a graduate of Rutgers University and is currently pursuing a master’s degree in magazine journalism at NYU. Her passion for wellness always has her researching the latest fitness trends, experimenting with recipes from superfood cookbooks, and working towards an overall healthier and happier lifestyle.  In addition to reading her articles on The Path, you can follow her adventures on her lifestyle blog, The Curly Nomad