Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Retro Workouts: Let's Get Physical Again

“The 1980's, that bygone era of big hair, big shoulders, big jewelry and general gaudy excess, seems to be inspiring the latest craze in back-to-basics fitness -- retro workouts. ‘Everyone enjoys the feeling of nostalgia while breaking an intense sweat,’ said Carol Johnson, who teaches Retro-Robics, a leg warmers optional old-style aerobics class in New York City. Johnson, group fitness coordinator with the Crunch fitness chain, conceived of Retro-Robics as ‘an homage’ to the decade that gave us Jennifer Beals' soggy, flash-dancing and turned Olivia Newton-John's workout headband into a must-have fashion accessory. ‘Dressing in old-style aerobic outfits is all the rage,’ said Johnson. ‘Jane Fonda's attire is signature; Richard Simmons is an icon.’ Music for the high-intensity cardio workout also harks back to everything from heart thumping aerobics mixes to Michael Jackson, disco, Motown, and Madonna. ‘The class is timeless,’ she said. ‘Good for the heart, spirit, and wallet.’ In fact the economic downturn may have helped spur the current craving for all things low-tech fitness. ‘The idea of retro is not so much turning the clock back as getting back to a basic callisthenic-type workout and away from technology,’ Cedric Bryant, spokesperson for the American Council on Exercise, said. ‘You can do very effective training with inexpensive basic tools.’ Rob Piela, personal training manager at Crunch, agrees. ’The body always works in the same three planes of motion: sagittal, frontal and transverse. Any of these trends come around, it's just reinventing for the sake of keeping peoples' interest peaked,’ he explained. Keeping interests peaked is the guiding principle of Eric Casaburi, an entrepreneurial Gen Xer who has parlayed his love of all things 80s into the Retrofitness chain of health clubs. Casaburi, 34, opened his first location in 2004. The retro-themed franchise has since grown to 50 centers nationwide, and 300 are planned in three years.”

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