By Valerie Watson
The success of our own Beachbody workout programs has made stars of deserving folks like Tony Horton, Shaun T, Chalene Johnson, and Debbie Siebers. But once upon a time, there was a whole different class of exercise video: the kind that starred folks who were super-famous before they even decided to get into the workout video game. Actresses. Singers. Sports stars. See if you can match the celebrity with his or her obsolete, colorfully costumed, and often unintentionally amusing exercise video.
Jane Fonda: _____’s Workout (1982). Jane Fonda’s Workout, that is. The grandmammy. The original. The one that started them all. First came the book, then came this, the first of a string of videos. This one is iconic for so many reasons: the striped leotard. The legwarmers. The unbelievably perky Oscar winner asking potential feel-the-burners, “Are you ready to do the workout?” Jane seems so confident here that you never think to ask why the “beginners’ workout class” in the video warms up with ballet moves that would in all likelihood damage the average beginner for life.
Bubba Smith: _____ Until It Hurts: Not Just Another Pretty Workout (1985). Bubba Until It Hurts . . . Here’s a phrase I bet you never thought you’d hear in association with a workout featuring this former All-Pro NFL defensive end: “motion-resistance isometrics.” This videocassette’s slipcover touts it as being “a total-body workout” for men and women of “all fitness levels,” but frankly, it’s hard to know what to think when you see strapping lad Bubba on the cover, flanked by two hotties in heavy eye makeup and revealing leotards—himself clad in skintight red leggings, no shirt, and red suspenders, his chest oiled and glistening under the photo lights. “Not just another pretty workout,” eh? I beg to differ.
Marie Osmond: “Exercises for Mothers-To-Be (1984). Twenty-five years before she became a contestant on Dancing with the Stars and spokeswoman for a national diet system, the only sister of the Osmond Brothers starred in this video, demonstrating gentle aerobics and yoga moves appropriate for expectant women—especially, if the cover means anything, expectant women in baggy yellow, one-piece, zip-up-the-front sweatsuit/jumpsuit hybrids.
Zsa Zsa Gabor: It’s Simple, Darling (1993). Never will you see anyone more inappropriately attired for exercise than Zsa Zsa is here, but it’s OK, because she doesn’t really do anything; she just lies there while her “two muscular friends Mike and François” move her arms and legs around for her. This video is loaded with quotable moments: “Velcome to my own personal exercise video!” “I vasn’t born to be an athlete; I vas born to be a lover!” “You vill see . . . It’s simple, darling!” “Now don’t break my neck, because I need it!”
Alyssa Milano: Teen Steam (1988). The scene: A highly unbelievable bedroom set with a roomy, uncluttered central floor space any real teenager would have filled with a gargantuan pile of dirty laundry. The cast: Messy-ponytailed Alyssa and two straight-outta-Central-Casting gal pals who have ostensibly come over to discuss personal problems, but are conveniently attired in workout gear, so what the hey? Why not do some stretches and aerobics? The most memorable phrases: “Diagonal!” “Now we’re gonna hold the floor!” “I wonder if this is how Michael Jackson got started!”