“Let me hear your body talk,” sang Olivia Newton-John, and indeed, the 1980’s had a whole lot to do with getting physical. The decade in which legwarmers ruled the world and sweatbands were the coolest accessories around brought an exercise craze in the format of VHS tapes. Where are these fitness favorites now?
Richard Simmons – Then
Known for his extravagant outfits and exquisite personality, Simmons sparked a craze by sharing his personal weight loss goal journey with the rest of America.
Richard Simmons – Now
Nowadays, Simmons stays true to his unique self by embracing sparkling outfits and sequins all over. His shorts have not, unlike what many would have anticipated, gotten longer over the years. But all in all, this is a pretty common Richard Simmons thing to do, so no one is alarmed by his choice of clothing. His Slimmons Studio in Beverly Hills, California is a thriving business doing better than ever, and he can be recognized in Geico commercials along many other endorsements.
Cher – Then
Her 1991 book titled Forever Fit: The Lifetime Plan for Health, Fitness and Beauty presented a cover photo of the diva in a knotted t-shirt and black boot placed on a barbell. She vowed to be fit forever and declared it a life choice she was fully dedicated to. Her book featured, like many others, exercise and weight loss programs, as well as nutrition tips and highly recommended skin-care products. Cher was a fitness master, flawless singer and performer, and an 80’s icon.
Cher – Now
Cher’s performance at the 2017 Billboard Music Awards was everything fans could have hoped for. In addition to her mesmerizing glow and dazzling bodysuit, it was her great shape that left many in awe. The 71-year-old phenomenon looked out at the audience and announced proudly – “I can do a 5-minute plank, okay?” Leading a healthy, active life is something the star strongly suggests, and her fit physique is proof enough that some things are worth investing the time and effort in.
Jake Steinfeld – Then
It is hard to mention Jake Steinfeld without discussing the embedded nickname he was granted by successful marketing strategies for his brand – “Body by Jake.” As one of the fitness industry’s reigning icons, Jake is said to be held accountable for creating the personal fitness training industry. Steinfeld himself created FitTV, which is a 24-hour fitness lifestyle network. Later on, Steinfeld sold FitTV to News Corp so that he could focus on a new project: founding the Major League Lacrosse (MLL) – the first professional outdoor lacrosse league.
Jake Steinfeld – Now
Steinfeld realized he had a soft spot for new businesses, which is why he became an entrepreneur. Using his street-smarts as Chairman and CEO of Body by Jake Global, Steinfeld developed an eye for brands and products. His latest goal set was to revolutionize the training industry for the digital age. He planned to do so by creating FitOrbit 2.0, which is an online personal training platform that offers services of trainers and nutritionists at a more affordable rate and in a way that is accessible to all.
Olivia Newton John – Then
Although more frequently remembered for her much-celebrated role as the nerdy-turned-cool gal on Grease, the “Let’s Get Physical” video was placed on a training pedestal for breaking musical grounds and setting high standards for those who stuck to strictly cranking up moves before. Double and triple threats were on the rise, and Newton-John was rightfully credited for being able to both hit high notes and master straining moves while wearing spandex, as well as being a successful actress.
Olivia Newton John – Now
Nowadays, Olivia Newton-John is no longer known for her 80’s sweat sessions but is regarded to as a four-time Grammy Award-winning singer who mastered five number-one Billboard Hot 100 singles. Not only has she sold around 100 million records worldwide, but the Grease soundtrack “You’re The One That I Want” landed her the unofficial title of singing one of the most successful soundtracks in history. To this very day, Olivia still tours, mostly in Australia and the United States.
Jamie Lee Curtis – Then
John Travolta played alongside Lee Curtis in the ’85 film Perfect, which was based on some pieces that were printed in Rolling Stone magazine during the 70’s. The series chronicled the hype around Los Angeles health clubs amongst single people. This movie put Lee Curtis on the map, although she did manage to land smaller roles in films before Perfect came out. Despite the fact the athletic community felt the movie assisted in bringing awareness to their existence in society, the movie was, according to Quentin Tarantino, “greatly underappreciated.”
Jamie Lee Curtis – Now
Curtis’s film career skyrocketed when she understood horror films were her forte. Subsequently to her appearance in Halloween, she starred in the films Halloween II, The Fog, Prom Night, Terror Train, and Roadgames. Curtis became the undefeated “scream queen” to the mainstream audience. In addition to making a name for herself in the film industry, Curtis appeared on television and even wrote a number of children’s books. Her humanitarian side is particularly seen through her support and advocacy of children’s hospitals.
John Travolta – Then
It is hard to list our favorite and classiest 80’s fitness fanatics and A-listers without name-dropping the Travolta name, so here it is. Let us just pretend that it is easy to look past the crotch thrusting scene in Perfect or ignore the sleeked back hair and bad boy attitude in Grease – Travolta made waves with a single smile and knee-weakening wink, so it is really no shocker at all that he made this very prestigious list.
John Travolta – Now
His athletically built body may have loosened slightly over the years, but some things simply never change – like that irresistible charm and undeniable talent. It seems everything Travolta touches turns into gold, which could explain why despite the slight decline in job offerings he had in the 80’s, the man bounced back and returned stronger than ever, landing roles on timeless films like Pulp Fiction, Swordfish, and Hairspray. Travolta was also nominated for an Academy Award and won a Golden Globe.
Tony Little – Then
His famous (or is it infamous?) ponytail precedes the man otherwise known as “America’s Personal Trainer,” but whether you agree with his uncommon hairstyle choice or not, you cannot stand in the way of the fact that this fitness guru sold more than $4 billion of fitness products via infomercials. His trademark smile and chained necklace photographed well on TV, which were highlighted by his selection of sleeveless shirts as a repeated item clothing. The most memorable product sold by Little is the Gazelle elliptical glider.
Tony Little – Now
Little had a rough childhood – his father left him and his mother, which is something he carries with him to this day. Despite the success he achieved in the field of athleticism, Little was not cut any slack by those who envied his accomplishments. He was often bullied and the target of parody. He was ridiculed by other TV personalities from his field, like Fabio, Richard Simmons, and Susan Powter. However, Little didn’t let others get the best of him, and he has since made several appearances on TV.
Cynthia Kereluk – Then
Referred to as the Canadian exercise guru, Cynthia Michele Kereluk might have worked hard to keep a well-toned, firm body, but some of the gifts she was granted are due to mother nature and good ‘ol genes. Her looks landed her the Miss Canada title in ’84 and a place in the Miss Universe contest that very same year. This fact assisted in gaining Kereluk a widespread audience in both Canada and America since she signed on to have her own fitness program, Everyday Workout.
Cynthia Kereluk – Now
Good looks are always a strong trait, especially when your job consists of keeping up appearances in front of the camera. Kereluk might have had a good run as a workout master, but her career was relatively short-lived, and soon she found herself acting in B-Movies such as Overnight, The Pink Chiquitas, and Mark of Cain. In 2007, she and English rocker Paul Rodgers, who has recently gone on tour with the legendary Queen, wed in a surprise ceremony in British Columbia.
Raquel Welch – Then
Welch’s book, Raquel: The Raquel Welch Total Beauty and Fitness Program, combined instructions on aerobics and yoga with lifestyle tips. Once it got published and hit the stands, the book turned out to be quite a success. However, this was not all Welch was credited for – she caught big names’ eye after her memorable 60’s role in Fantastic Voyage, which was strong enough to guarantee her a contract with 20th Century Fox. Her top-notch body was printed on posters that became best-selling in no time.
Raquel Welch – Now
Welch went on to portray strong female characters in numerous films and took pride in breaking the mold of the meek, powerless girl that was the copy and paste template for most actresses in her time. Her appearance in The Three Musketeers was so outstanding it got her a Golden Globe Award, and not much later, she was nominated for another one for her Right to Die film. Playboy ranked Welch as third on their “100 Hottest Stars of the Twentieth Century,” and to this day she can be spotted everywhere.
Suzanne Somers – Then
Complex.com put it best by stating that “As the spokeswoman for the Thighmaster, she [Suzanne Somers] is largely responsible for the invention of the infomercial … we would never have had the joys of ShamWow, Shake Weight, and Miss Cleo’s Psychic Friend’s Network if she hadn’t blazed that trail.” However, Somers did not want to be known for her ability to squeeze exercise equipment between her thighs, which is why she used the platform provided by her title as a spokeswoman to land roles in films.
Suzanne Somers – Now
If you ask someone random walking down the street who Suzanne Somers is, the first thing that would probably come to mind is her role as Chrissy Snow on Three’s Company, or as Carol Foster Lambert on Step by Step. The truth is, Suzanne made a name for herself in many different industries, on account of branching out to being an author, singer, actress, businesswoman and health spokesperson. Although she has been publicly criticized for views on certain medical subjects, she remains an admired individuals to this day.
Tamilee Webb – Then
Tamilee Webb’s profoundly acclaimed series, Buns of Steel and Abs of Steel, made her a household name all across America. The series were massively promoted with the use of infomercials, which were a popular medium for selling fitness merchandise back in the 80’s. Overall, more than $10 million were made in video sales. This accomplishment got her a position as one of the fitness experts that were featured on FitTV, which is a digital channel owned by Discovery Communications and ESPN Fitness Pros.
Tamilee Webb – Now
Webb has recently released her next workout videos in the series, which she titled Abs of Steel 1, Buns of Steel 3, and Arms & Abs of Steel. All were issued on DVD as a collection, available for purchase in most DVD stores today. Few people are aware of the fact that the bouncing Webb is also quite the brainiac: she holds a master’s degree in exercise science and acts as the CEO of her own company, which she named Webb International.
Arnold Schwarzenegger – Then
Arnold Schwarzenegger is deemed one of the most influential personages in the history of bodybuilding. One of the first competitions Schwarzenegger won was the Junior Mr. Europe contest in 1965, which was then followed by his landslide win of Mr. Europe the following year, at age 19. For years on end, Arnold wrote a monthly column for Muscle & Fitness and Flex, which are both bodybuilding magazines. Schwarzenegger has an impressive attainment of a whopping seven Mr. Olympia wins under his belt.
Arnold Schwarzenegger – Now
15-year-old Arnold may have dreamt about becoming an ultimate weightlifter, but adult Schwarzenegger gained international recognition the moment he started dipping his toe in acting. Before he knew it, the man became one of Hollywood’s biggest action film icons. Feeling as though he wanted to have a greater impact, Schwarzenegger announced his candidacy for the 2003 California recall election for Governor of California. His highly publicized candidacy resulted in him being elected Governor. As for fitness, his legacy is celebrated annually in the Arnold Classic bodybuilding competition.
Lou Ferrigno – Then
Many titles appear on Lou’s resume, including fitness trainer and consultant, actor and professional bodybuilder. Although he is retired as the latter, it is still worth mentioning the man won an IFBB Mr. America title and appeared in Pumping Iron, which is a raved-about bodybuilding documentary. Lou did not have an easy start at this life, having booked his first paying job as a sheet metal worker for $10-an-hour, but he thankfully soon realized leading a dangerous life was not on his agenda and left to pursue other paths.
Lou Ferrigno – Now
Lou attempted at playing football for the Toronto Argonauts for a while, but after he broke the legs of another player during a scrimmage, he realized this wasn’t for him either. Ferrigno also tried acting – he was cast as the Hulk in notable film, The Incredible Hulk. In the beginning of 2000, Lou was offered to play himself during occasional guest appearances on The King of Queens. The show was a CBS sitcom that was well received by critics everywhere.
Judi Sheppard Missett – Then
Where would the 80’s fitness industry be if it were not for the memorable Jazzercise routines? The woman credited for the dance fitness franchise is the same one who founded the company – the prominent Judi Sheppard Missett. Combining dance, strength, and resistance training, Jazzercise is a fun workout that has its practicers bouncing around to popular mainstream music, creating an all-body routine. Judi swore by it, and since her body acted as a foolproof guarantee, she and her business skyrocketed like no other.
Judi Sheppard Missett – Now
In June 2016, Judi wrote a piece for the Huffington Post, which she titled “Don’t Act Your Age.” In the post, she noted how she managed to have a long-lasting relationship with fitness and thus, a thriving career in the field. Her biggest secret? Not acting her age. “How old do you feel?” She wrote, “I feel about 30. Then I look in the mirror, and I don’t see a 30-year-old. What I do see is someone who looks pretty good, is active and healthy, and has a serious spark to her.”
Tonya Harding – Then
Originally from Portland, Oregon, Harding was not born into a life that put great emphasis on athleticism. Her parents were blue-collar employees who pushed Tonya to be whoever she wanted to be, regardless of her background. That is why when she announced figure skating was the one thing on her mind, there was no stopping Tonya from pushing through, right up until she competed in the 1994 Winter Olympics Figure Skating Competition and Exhibition. However, scandal was quick to follow Tonya wherever she went.
Tonya Harding – Now
A month before the Winter Olympics, champion skater Nancy Kerrigan was brutally beaten in the knee. The assault made her incapable of competing and so Harding stepped in. It didn’t take long for rumors to spark about Tonya and her ex-husband being the ones who hired someone to attack Kerrigan. Harding was convicted in a court of law and, having a hard time dealing with the claims, Harding went on a bad streak: she was arrested twice and attempted suicide. Since then, Harding shied away from the spotlight.
Nancy Kerrigan – Then
Although her family was short of means and were constantly in a financial quicksand state, her dad would pull all the stops to make his baby girl’s dream come true – including working in three jobs to fund her skating. Daniel Kerrigan would also drive the ice resurfacer at a local rink in Stoneham, Massachusetts to have a bargaining chip to exchange for Nancy’s lessons. In ’87, she placed fourth at the junior level at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships and made an early impression as a solid jumper.
Nancy Kerrigan – Now
Nancy fell in love with figure skating from the young age of 6, which is what enabled her to get very skilled very quickly. Right up before the attack that changed her life for good, Kerrigan already had an Olympic medal to her name – she took the bronze medal in ’92’s Games in Albertville, France. After the scandal, Kerrigan went to compete in the ’94 Games in Norway. Her latest appearance was on Dancing With The Stars, as she returned to the spotlight for season 24 of the show.
Chris Evert Lloyd – Then
At only five years old, Evert began taking tennis lessons from her father, who was a professional coach and winner of men’s singles at the Canadian Championships in ’47. The Grand Slam tournament in ’71 was her big debut in the professional sphere, and she was only 16 at the time, but after this competition, everything was about to change. Evert dominated the women’s tennis and became a walking phenomenon, causing many experts to praise the woman for being undefeatable. Even her record of seven French Open singles was unbroken for 27 years.
Chris Evert Lloyd – Now
Professionally peaking all throughout the 80’s, Evert decided to call it quits in ’89. She retired from the tour after winning 154 singles titles, 18 Grand Slam singles, and 32 double titles. Out of the 303 tournaments she entered, Evert reached 273 semifinals. Even her last match was a win. Her personal life did not lack a surprising factor either – Evert was married three times in her life, all three to fellow athletes. Her third and final marriage to this date, however, also dissolved into a divorce in 2009.
Charlene Prickett – Then
The 40’s baby who was born in Little Rock, Arkansas, was known for her fitness videos that consisted of a rather simple choreography and basic workout moves, meaning it applied to an older crowd and those who were looking for a cushioned start when integrating athleticism into their daily routine. Some claimed there was too much talking in the videos, which did not serve the purpose of motivating one to get going and break a sweat. Unfortunately, the chatter came at a cost.
Charlene Prickett – Now
Prickett was named a director and writer of her own videos, among the few was No Jump Aerobics, which came out in 1988. The next two videos released came out in 2002: Return to Slender: A Step Aerobics and Muscle Toning Workout for Postnatal and Overweight Women and Cruising Altitude: 1 Hour Vigorous Low Impact Aerobics. These days, Charlene is nowhere to be found. She used to have an operating website registered to her name – charleneprickett.com – but the site is now either under maintenance or closed for good.
Cathy Lee Crosby – Then
Cathy Lee Crosby presented excellent acting skills as she pulled one effortlessly natural performance after another in both television and film. The fact the femme was not too hard on the eyes was definitely a contributing factor, but Crosby worked hard to keep her model physique flawless. While other women in her field lifted weights and practiced modern dance, this bold blonde perfected her professional tennis game. Crosby was well trained and stepped up her game towards the ultimate goal of competing in Wimbledon.
Cathy Lee Crosby – Now
Crosby reached her goal but soon after decided to give up on the sport. Her personal life consisted of many turbulences as well, since her relationship-turned-marriage to football star Joe Theismann ended after only 11 years with a rather ugly divorce. Crosby sued Theismann for $4.5 million, claiming he “abandoned his promise to financially support her,” which surprised many since her acting career seemed to be going well – her latest credited appearance was in the film Ablaze (2001), which was opposite Ice-T and Tom Arnold.
Marianna Komlos – Then
Marianna Komlos began her career as a middleweight bodybuilder and started competing in 1993. In 1997, she took first place at the British Columbia Championships, leading Jerry Kindela, editor-in-chief of Flex to claim, “Marianna’s one of the most beautiful bodybuilders I’ve ever seen.” From this, Komlos went onto become a fitness model and having a stint in the World Wrestling Federation in 1999. Marianna was unfortunately subjected to misogynist comments and names throughout her career which led her to leave WWF soon after her debut.
Marianna Komlos – Now
Sadly, Marianna’s successful career was short lived and the body builder turned fitness model died after a battle with cancer at the young age of 35. Prior to her premature death, she went on to marry former MMA fighter and Hollywood stunt double Paul Lazenby and the two enjoyed a short marriage with the time they had left. Nevertheless, Komlos left a legacy behind her and will forever be remembered as one of the most beautiful and toned women to grace professional wrestling.
Sharon Bruneau – Then
Sharon Bruneau started her career as a fashion model but after contracting a bad case of pneumonia, she lost a lot of weight and had to quit. Upon her recovery, Bruneau began strengthening her body with weights and starting competing in fitness competitions. She later appeared on the covers of Muscle & Fitness and Flex, and had been signed by Weider Health and Fitness publications who took a chance on her and was one of their first every female representatives from 1991-1998.
Sharon Bruneau – Now
After competing in the 1994 Ms. Olympia contest, Sharon switched to fitness competitions but then gave it all up a year later in 1995. From then, she took on some small acting roles in movies including Tornado Run (1995), Nemesis 2: Nebula (1995), Nemesis III: Prey Harder (1996), and R.S.V.P. in 2002. Recently, Sharon has found a new love for inspiring others through motivational speaking and workshops which she does internationally, speaking about health and fitness and how it impacted and changed her life.
Debbie Dobbins – Then
Debbie Dobbins had an early start in her fitness career and after college, she decided to start an aerobics class which went on for an impressive seven years. After moving to Los Angeles to move forward with her fitness career, she began modeling for exercise magazines, doing promotional videos and photoshoots as well as becoming an NFL cheerleader. Her stunning looks led Dobbins to enter the 1993 Ms. Fitness USA competition at which she placed a very respectable third place.
Debbie Dobbins – Now
Despite getting off to a flying start in her fitness career, everything came to an abrupt halt when she was tragically killed from smoke inhalation in a house fire in 1993. Her untimely death shocked the entire fitness community and in a 1994 episode of Hard Copy it was speculated that there may have been foul play involved in the fire that took Dobbin’s life. While the rumor was never confirmed, Dobbins will always be remembered for having an incredible physique and huge potential.
Tracy Austin – Then
Tracy Austin took on Tennis as the rest of her family were playing professionally but she never expected to reach such great success. Her winning streaks were unprecedented and she won three Grand Slam titles, including the women’s singles titles at the 1979 and 1981 US Opens, and the mixed doubles title at the Wimbledon Championships in 1980. She has held the title of the youngest US Open female singles champion in history since 1979, and is the youngest inductee of all time at the International Tennis Hall of Fame.
Tracy Austin – Now
Unfortunately, a series of injuries and a serious car accident abruptly ended Austin’s career. After retiring in 1994, she became a commentator for NBC and the USA Network for the French Open and the US Open. In addition, she regularly broadcasts on the Australian Open and the BBC’s coverage of Wimbledon. In 2010, she joined the US Open team on the Tennis Channel and has been working on Canadian television for their coverage of the Rogers Cup since 2004.
Jane Fonda – Then
The highest selling home video of the 1980’s was The Jane Fonda Workout, having sold more than a million copies worldwide. Many purchased new VCRs in order to be able to use Fonda’s workout video, and there was growing demand for more routines, which is why she ended up releasing an astounding total of 23 videos. 17 million copies of the series were sold in total, which is more than any other workout series ever sold. Fonda was the undeniable fitness queen.
Jane Fonda – Now
Taking 15 years off from the industry to focus on other aspects of her life, Jane Fonda returned to the business she built from the ground up and released two brand new fitness videos – only this time, they were released on DVD. The year was 2010, and Fonda had to progress over the years – but also wanted her video to be set for a very particular type of audience – an older one. As for her other interests, Fonda still acts to this day and is an ongoing political activist.
Kathy Smith – Then
Smith became well-known for her fitness videos and was so tremendously successful, she sold more than 16 million workout videos since she jump-started her career in the 80’s. Smith even had her very own nutrition and exercise program created, which she titled Project: You! Type 2. The program was meant to assist in completely altering one’s lifestyle to help cope with diabetes, and was made with the help and contribution of the American Diabetes Association. She was a highly notable personal trainer.
Kathy Smith – Now
Commonly referred to as the “titan of the workout industry,” Smith grossed $500 million only through her personal fitness apparel, books, equipment, and videos brand. Her book, Moving Through Menopause, assisted in landing her the role of being the Internation Council on Active Aging’s spokesperson. Her website, kathysmith.com, is a vibrant, colorful one that offers fitness tips, health rules to live by, relationship advice and a personal blog asserting her much-repeated slogan – “progress, not perfection.” She is the healthiest, and in better shape she has ever been.
Heather Locklear – Then
Locklear was not only known for being a kind individual and talented actress – her flawless physique had many women green with envy, and countless men fantasize about being with her. She has graced both television screens and magazine covers since before we can remember, but her workout videos, which she titled Personal Training Sessions, gave people a beacon of hope that they too could rock leotards like one of the most famous, fit and fantastic blonde bombshells to grace our TVs.
Heather Locklear – Now
“Heather is one of the nicest people I’ve ever met, but also one of the most professional,” said celebrity trainer Garrett Warren of Woodland Hills Athletic Club. “She was always on-time, incredibly committed and very driven when it came to her workouts.” This could explain why, at 56, the woman looks the way she does. Although she left the home workout videos in the past and moved on to things more silver screen-related, we are just glad we can still catch a glimpse of her elsewhere.
Denise Austin – Then
They did not call her “America’s Fitness Sweetheart” for nothing – Richards’ big blue eyes and captivating smile has been associated with healthy living since the 80’s. Her range of titles includes fitness instructor, columnist, author, and former member of the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports, among many others. Having kicked off her athletic career doing gymnastics at age 12, Richards married into the industry as well, since she walked down the aisle with sports agent and former tennis player Jeff Austin.
Denise Austin – Now
In an interview given to SHAPE, Austin explains why she would never cease to lead a life that makes her feel this good: “I still have so much fun promoting fitness. It never goes ‘out of style’ or gets old!” The fitness go-getter might only be 5’4”, but she is in no way short of energy when it comes to promoting her career. In 2014, she released her 100th DVD, which she called Yoga Booty Lift, making a tremendous mark in the industry.
Fabio Lanzoni – Then
Most commonly referred to by the mononym Fabio, the Italian actor-turned-model with features that are so god-like they have scored him the unofficial title of most attractive man alive also appeared on the cover of many of romance novels and fitness magazines. Fabio was the embodiment of fitness perfection, and he used that fact to his advantage by writing an exercise book and releasing his very own fitness video called Fabio Fitness. His long, luscious locks of beach-wave blonde hair are also his more recognized feature.
Fabio Lanzoni – Now
Fabio had the looks and skills to have an on-going, thriving career in athleticism and fitness, but instead, he prefers to star in television and films, as well as the occasional appearance in ads. Versace signed Fabio and named him their face for the Mediterraneum fragrance, and he appeared on The Bold and the Beautiful a few times. He also became invested in several business ventures like launching Healthy Planet Vitamins and was named a spokesperson for the American Cancer Society.