I’m an 80’s kid. I watched Olivia Newton John strut across my giant tube television screen as she “got physical” and I’ll never forget Jennifer Bealls’ sexy leotard as she danced bare bottomed in Flashdance. What a feeling it must have been to wear a sweatshirt so loose a boob slip was inevitable or a leotard so tight a camel toe adjustment was needed every take.
80’s workout gear revealed more than just rib cages and pelvic bones. Even Disney’s Mousercise featured the trainer wearing belts and suspenders to compliment her thigh high, neon leotard. It’s no wonder “Great Shape Barbie” wearing heels and leg warmers or Richard Simmons’ short shorts and sequined tank tops are still popular Halloween costumes two decades later, but can you imagine actually working out in those clothes?
I blame the 80’s for my dysfunctional gym behavior. While I didn’t show up in leotards and pumps, I did view the gym as a place to be seen. I walked in with full make-up, beautifully groomed (and tanned) legs and underarms, and the best workout clothes a teacher salary could buy. If the clothes were dirty or the legs weren’t shaved, that was reason enough to skip the gym. When it was time to hop on the treadmill I made sure my ponytail swayed as I walked as fast as I could, without running, and as soon as I started to sweat, I hopped off.
If you’re thinking I’m superficial you’ve never been to LA Fitness at 6pm. Some girls my age wouldn’t even be seen in a ponytail; They look like they just came from the salon, their perfectly formed tresses flowing down their back as they lifted 10lbs in front of a mirror. Maybe they suffered from the same 80’s syndrome I did because they weren’t concerned that their hair would stick to their sweaty back and look like a hot mess by the time their workout was complete… BECAUSE THEY WEREN’T THERE TO ACTUALLY SWEAT!
Fast forward to 2010 where female fitness icons showed women that muscle is sexy and how hard work (aka sweat) is necessary to getting a toned body. Soft curves have been replaced with athletic ripples and recognized as the new sexy, but it takes hard work to get that type of muscle definition. Women seeking the new sexy have to be ready to sweat so much that shapes form in places that would have made Mickey Mouse and his Mousercise crew blush.
Recently, one of my class instructors wore a pair of gray capris. About 30 minutes into a 50 minute kickboxing class, a wet spot started to seep through her pants. She saw it, shrugged and kept kicking ass. She wore her vagina sweat like a badge of honor. It made me think, had Olivia Newton John ever sprung a leak in her leotard?
A few months ago, I was doing crossfit. On a particularly tough WOD, I turned to look at myself in the mirror and noticed everything was drenched, except two circles around my boobs. I had worn a regular bra in my rush to class and it showed through to the entire gym. 10 years ago, I would have been mortified, and I have to admit that a tinge of embarrassment did surge through my body. Then, I had an epiphany, “who cares?” That goddess looking back at me was a red faced, pineapple headed, armpit stubble, sexy beast who had just pushed her body to its limits for 60 minutes straight. That boob sweat rockin’ bitch was the sexiest thing I had ever seen. Doctor, I was cured!
My 80’s syndrome was treated by some amazing female trainers that didn’t let me stop because I was too tired or concerned about what I looked like in the depths of my workout. They showed me that true confidence and strength comes from within.
It was also cured by my beast of a husband who stinks up the gym at 5 am every morning and our resolve to eat clean, healthy foods. They’ve all shown me that it’s not about the image that you put out in the gym, it’s about being healthier and actually becoming stronger.
My mantra to my 80’s self: Vagina’s sweat, armpit hair grows, make-up melts, hair gets tangled, and if it doesn’t, you’re just not working hard enough!