The exercise craze of the early 1980s was all about aerobics. Doing the combination of calisthenics, stretches and dance to pop music was the de rigeur way to keep in shape during this decade.
For those who wanted to workout out at home, there was the :20 Minute Workout, a half hour television show that showed us all how to limber up and slim down with the three female hosts. Set on a rotating white soundstage, the hosts wore the latest style of aerobics gear: bodysuit, tights, and legwarmers.
The show had one host who told you what to do during the workout and two additional women who would be working out alongside the host. Keeping things simple, there was never any chatter about who they were, but just a focus on the aerobic moves.
The :20 Minute Workout was the first aerobic workout show on television. Syndicated across North America, the Canadian show was created by Ron Harris with City TV, featuring pretty girls to show viewers how to workout, in just a short half hour.
Although as a young teen I was absorbed with my body image, I wasn’t encouraged by the show, instead heading to classes downtown with my friend Patti. We knew we would just watch the show and not do the moves unless we were motivated in person by an instructor.
Ironically the show became the guilty pleasure of plenty of men, able to gawk at the women as they did exercise moves, showing off their fit, sexy bodies. The cameras focused on the repetitive movements of the hosts, as they bounced up and down to work their abs and tone their butts, much to the delight of male viewers. One of the main hosts, brunette Bess Motta, a fan favourite with her trademark curly hair, had a brief career as an actress in the late 1980s.
Although only two seasons of the show were taped, the syndication kept the shows running until well in the 1990s, when the show was taken off the air, more for its lack of trend than for its lack of fitness expertise.