No form of entertainment better encapsulated the vibe of an entire decade than pro wrestling did in the ‘80s. It was loud and colorful, with a distinct air of cartoonish absurdity that fit the zeitgeist perfectly. And from this marriage of voluminous hair, garish spandex, and unfettered capitalism, the Hulkamania Workout Set was born.
Endorsed by the WWF’s biggest attraction, this set was half toy, half home exercise kit, aimed directly at the 8-and-over crowd. In addition to a 40-minute workout cassette narrated by Hogan, the set also came with a Hulkamania headband, red and white wristbands, a jump rope, exercise chart, hand gripper, and the pièce de ré·sis·tance: a pair of 3-pound dumbbells.
In theory, everything you needed to get those 24-inch pythons was inside this box—all you had to do was drape yourself in traditional Hulkamania garb and pump those plastic blue weights until your prepubescent muscles gave out. Oh, and a few of Hulk’s patented chewable vitamins probably wouldn’t hurt (sold separately, of course).
Typical of the era, the product was introduced to the masses by way of someone crashing through a wall and screaming at a child in its debut commercial. Was this intruder Hulk Hogan himself? Of course not. The Hulkster doesn’t appear in the ad at all—instead, it’s fellow WWF star “Mr. Wonderful” Paul Orndorff that sells audiences on the toy.
Despite the distinct lack of Hulk, the commercial is definitely worth a watch:
Thankfully, someone uploaded the entire 40-minute workout cassette onto YouTube, which basically consists of stock ‘80s music, with occasional bits of motivation from Hulk sprinkled throughout. Even for peak ’80s Hogan, it’s an intense listen—at one point, he even threatens to body slam anyone that quits in the middle of a set.
The highlight, though, is a nearly seven-minute rant at the beginning where he unleashes all his workout wisdom on the listener, punctuated with plenty of Hoganisms and one brief moment where he imagines life as a school teacher. It’s phenomenal:
While it’s all fun and games to snicker at ‘80s nostalgia, you might not be smiling if you threw out the Hulkamania Workout Set you had as a kid—they’re currently going for over $300 online, brother.