The Best (Worst) Workout Wear From Every Decade

I have a theory that every girl has a unitard lurking somewhere in her closet, just like every man probably still owns a jean button-down shirt. We keep them not necessarily because they remind us of the good times but -- and this is the best part of my theory -- because we hope to wear them again someday. Retro workout wear is not just for skinny hipsters anymore! Bring on the unironic awesomeness! Behold:

I have a soft spot for anything with vintage fashion and this 1972 ad for "Sears Beauty Spa" (yes, Sears, as in the department store) made my whole darn day. They're exercising while reclining! And getting jiggled! And all while wearing polyester adult footie pajamas! This is why I blog at 10 o'clock at night, folks. I would pay good money to see this kind of personal training in action.

Invoking blogger privilege, I will now hijack the rest of this post to show you other hilarious examples of vintage workouts and/or workout wear. Why? Because it amuses me in a way that only people who have bought a snuggie off TV can truly understand.

The 30's brought us this marvelous contraption that I believe is supposed to shake the fat off you -- a practice still en vogue forty years later as evidenced by the picture above and the fact that my grandma actually wrote about doing this in her journal. Plus -- knickers. And swim caps. And collars on swim suits. Love.

Heading back to the 40's, we get not only awesome beachwear but girl fights! Don't you love how "scared" the girl in the middle is? I love their not-a-hair-out-of-place rolled coif.

Nothing says fitness competitor like this shot of Marilyn Monroe in the '50s. Not only is she pressing like 20 whole pounds but she also has her sexyface going on. Don't forget, all you lady lifters -- the tip toes make this a compound exercise! Bonus: high waisted shorts + pointy bra = best lifting outfit evah!

Nothing says "A-Train to Harlem" like this vintage 60's tracksuit, complete with Bruce Lee tee that probably eBays for $500 now. Actually, now that I think about it, this whole outfit seems to be pretty trendy right now. Or maybe it just never went out of style. Darn men and their practicality! Although the stirrup pants might be just a wee bit over the top. But don't let that hold you back.

Ah, Olivia Newton John -- how do I love thee? Only you can work Valentine's day spandex and a fem-mullet with such class! Plus the posing! I will practice every night in the mirror until I have perfected hamstring stretch/salute to Fame pose.

The 70's & 80's were pretty much dominated by one shiny, thong-wearing, how-on-earth-did-they-pee-with-tights-on woman: Jane Fonda. Look at all the awesomeness going on in this picture -- belts! suspenders! purple leopard print! mock turtlenecks! halfsie zippers! scrunched matchy-matchy socks! baby dumbbells! And the fizz in this bag of pop rocks? The hair.

This shot from the 80's demonstrates perfectly all the problems with leggings for men (meggings?). But when said leggings come as part of a suspendered unitard with stirrup bottoms (not to mention the sewn-in shirt)? Bring on the hotness! Please, please, please let someone wear this to my Y someday.

Which brings me to this unfortunate picture. There are no words except that some designer somewhere must have really hated this team.