80’s Step Aerobics

January 27, 2023

Written by Emma Kongs, Group Exercise Manager

Whether you have seen it in a classic ’80s movie or participated in the Wii Fit version, step aerobics is often one of the top classes people think of when asked about group fitness. But how did step classes become so popular, and how are they making a resurgence today? Want to step into a class soon? Below is a little backstory and the potential benefits of the classic step aerobics class.


The ’80s were full of big hair, bright colors, and the increased popularity of group exercise classes. Early in 1982, aerobic dance workouts were all the rage; however, there was a substantial increase in injuries to participants and instructors due to the high intensity of classes and lack of modifications for beginners. Gin Miller, a well-known instructor at the time, suffered from continual stress fractures due to the high intensity of aerobic dance workouts. To rehab the injury, Gin was told by her doctor to step up and down on a milk crate. This sparked the idea of a low-impact workout that anyone, whether beginner or expert, could accomplish. The first aerobic step classes were choreographed at a slower pace with simple choreography, with the goal and mindset to keep participants moving. As it grew in popularity, the choreography became more explosive and unique, creating a fun and challenging class for all fitness levels.


Step aerobics has a multitude of benefits, such as cardiovascular endurance, stability, agility, and coordination, to name a few. Aerobic step classes are designed in a way to keep participants moving through low-impact movements to optimize cardiovascular performance without unnecessary strain on the joints. Aerobic step classes also have a diverse set of modifications and progressions to personalize the class by either increasing or decreasing the intensity of the movements. Step aerobics has numerous mental and emotional benefits as well. Choreography on the step provides the mental challenge to remember the movements while also improving coordination. (Not to mention that it is incredibly fun!) The best benefit of aerobic step classes is that they don’t feel like a workout at all!

Offerings & Events

The best way to understand Step Aerobics is to experience it yourself! LaHaye Recreation & Fitness Center offers weekly “Step and Sculpt” classes incorporating the best step aerobics and a sculpting portion that utilizes weighted movements to build long, lean muscle. This class puts a new spin on a typical fitness class. But, if you want to blast to the past, be sure to join us this spring on March 4 for our 80’s Step Workshop! This workshop will be filled with great music, neon colors, and the classic step choreography everyone loves. Come join in on a fun workout crafted for everyone!

Parker, R. (2021, July 14). The popularity of fitness classes – trends and Demographics. Human Kinetics Blog. Retrieved November 17, 2022, from https://humankinetics.me/2019/09/19/the-popularity-of-fitness-classes-trends-and-demographics/

Fleming, C. (2020, January 8). A brief history of step aerobics: Gxunited: Helping fit pros thrive. GXunited. Retrieved November 17, 2022, from https://gxunited.com/blog/step-aerobics-history/#:~:text=Step%20aerobics%20came%20to%20life,an%20emphasis%20on%20athletic%20movements.