Sweat bands galore, ankle warmers, cut-off sweatpants and shirts, colorful tights as vast as the rainbow … the 80s truly had their own world when it came to fitness fashion.
But as memorable as the sweat-tastic style was, maybe the bigger question isn’t what gym rats and aerobic lovers were wearing; it’s what they were listening to?
So let’s jump into the workout world of Olivia Newton John and Richard Simmons and uncover 10 of the best 80s workout tracks to complete the perfect throwback gym playlist.
“Living on a Prayer” - Bon Jovi
If there’s one thing that Jon Bon Jovi is good at, other than being a heartthrob (still), it’s writing a catchy rock anthem that lasts the test of time. Whether it’s at the cocktail bar or the barbell, “Living on a Prayer” will get you amped up.
“Jump” – Van Halen
It’s like Eddie Van Halen knew all along that he was writing workout gold with the plyometric masterpiece “Jump.” It’s a feel good track that encourages you to, well … jump. What more motivation do you need?!
“Beat It” – Michael Jackson
From the moment that iconic drum beat drops and the electric guitar riff hits, “Beat It” overwhelms the senses and puts you in the mood to move. So it’s only fitting that King of Pop, the man with all the moves, would write a song to make you do just that.
“Physical” – Olivia Newton-John
The music video for this 80s classic is literally a pilates routine. If that doesn’t sweatily scream workout playlist gold, then what does?
“Straight Up” – Paula Abdul
Olivia Newton-John might have been the workout queen of the 80s, but Paula Abdul had her own fair share of gym staple hits with the likes of “Straight Up.” In fact, one can argue that the lyrics straight up are actually Paula just reinforcing good form and posture … right?
“Flashdance (What a Feeling)” – Irene Cara
Blame it on the movie, but there’s no way to listen to “Flashdance (What a Feeling)” and not think about dancing and being active. It’s like listening to “Footloose,” and telling yourself you won’t kick off your Sunday shoes and get loose. Not gonna happen.
“Push It” – Salt-N-Pepa
Ever been in the middle of a workout, dog-tired and ready to throw in the towel only to have this song come on the gym radio and challenge you to power through. It’s like the song itself is your own personal trainer telling you “One more rep!!!”
“Eye of the Tiger” – Survivor
Let’s be honest, if a song can motivate Rocky Balboa – the greatest underdog of all time – to get in the gym and grind, then it will surely do the same to help you conquer your workout routine.
“I Wanna Dance with Somebody” – Whitney Houston
Oh Whitney, we never know whether to dance or workout when your 80s pop hits come on, but we do know that we just have to move to the beat. And while you’re probably not talking about dancing with a pair of dumbbells, we’re open to interpretation.
“It’s Tricky” – Run DMC
While rap may still have been in its infancy in the mid-late 80s, there’s one song that dominated (and still does) gym radio. Sometimes you’ve got to add a little swagger to your gym routine and “It’s Tricky” does just that.
The 80s were filled with countless hits that could make you want to sprint your tail off on the treadmill or break your PR on the bench press. But at the end of the day, if you’re looking for a solid 30-minute sweat session, check out these ten tracks to get the blood pumping and the energy flowing. Guaranteed.