Will the recent Jazzercise revival force us to reevaluate the dominance of the all-black fitness uniform?
On one of his trips to the U.S., the world’s foremost yoga teacher, B.K.S. Iyengar was said to have expressed surprise that unlike his Indian devotees, none of his students wore color when they practiced yoga. As he looked across the sea of students, all were wearing black, fitted cotton tanks and flare-legged “yoga” pants.
Jane Fonda single-handedly started the craze for leotards worn in brightly colored combinations.
While Mr. Iyengar may not have had great insight into the West’s acceptance of the slimming effects of black lycra, it’s interesting to note the 30 year journey that our fitness wear has taken and remember a more joyful time before the unspoken dominance of the all-black fitness uniform began.
Stretchy spandex - which was invented in 1959 – fabrics with their easy care and ability to be dyed in strong vibrant colors were the hallmark of the 1980s Jazzercise outfit. The brightly colored leotards worn with legwarmers and over-sized grey Marl sweatshirts featured matching belts and hairbands.
Reviving the 80s sound and look, Madonna wore a pink leotard for her Confessions on a Dance Floor album.
Another trend that evolved during the fitness-crazed 80s were lightweight nylon jogging suits – also made in wild patterns of neon pinks, blues, light greens – that although designed for the gym were quickly adopted as street wear. Perhaps, the garish legacy of fitness wear gone wild is too recent a memory for some, but if bright, energy sustaining colors can make a workout more appealing, it might be time to feel the burn all over again.
The 80s shell suit is a trend thats best left to the archives of truly bad taste.