If there’s one thing that today’s pop culture tells us, it’s that reboots and throwbacks are all the rage. We’re nostalgic for the old days, and it’s obvious in our movies, our music, our video games...and even our fitness routines.
Home workouts are so quintessentially old school. Most of us have fond memories of flailing about our living rooms in front of the TV while the likes of Richard Simmons or Denise Austin cheered us on to “burn those calories!”
But no other 80s fitness guru ever came close to the fitness giant that is the Jane Fonda Workout.
Jane Fonda: Actress, Activist And #Fitspiration
We all know and love Jane Fonda from her workout videos. It all started in 1982, when the Jane Fonda Original Workout came out, based on her 1981 New York Times’ bestselling book. It eventually became one of the most popular videocassettes of all time, with over 17 million copies sold worldwide.
The original workout was just the first in Jane Fonda’s exercise empire; it’s spawned over two dozen titles and has cemented her as a fitness icon. But who is Jane Fonda with her aerobics videos? And how old is Jane Fonda now?
You wouldn’t be able to tell just from looking at her because this actress, producer, and fitness guru still looks incredible at 81. Fonda started her acting career in 1960 with a debut on Broadway and went on to star in several hit films like Barbarella and Sunday in New York.
She snagged her first Oscar nomination in 1969 and has been nominated 6 more times—and won twice—since. So Jane Fonda was a huge box office star and critical darling when she released her contribution to the 80s fitness craze.
Where Would I Know Her From?
Today’s audiences might recognise her as the titular character in the 2001 movie Monster-in-Law or 2018’s feel-good film Book Club. She’s also currently the star of Netflix’s Grace and Frankie.
Most of all, Fonda is and always has been an extremely vocal activist. She’s always used her platform to fight for causes she believes in, even if it comes at a cost—like getting blacklisted from Hollywood after her controversial anti-Vietnam war views came to light.
Fonda is also a proud feminist who co-founded the Women’s Media Center in 2005, alongside feminist icons and theorists; Robin Morgan and Gloria Steinem.
The Workout That Made Jane Fonda A Household Name
Looking back at Jane Fonda’s home workouts, it can be easy to not take the cheesy music and 80s exercise clothes seriously. But at the time, Fonda actually took a special, perhaps even revolutionary, approach to fitness—especially for women.
Gyms and working out were primarily reserved for men or athletes. Jane Fonda’s workouts had a unique feminine energy that made women feel more comfortable with fitness.
The Jane Fonda fitness program is all about embracing your beauty, promoting positive energy, and incorporating emotional wellness into your physical fitness. Fonda didn’t know it at the time, but this holistic approach combined with easy, low impact movements was the formula for success.
The Revolutionary Approach
The original routine combines aerobics with yoga workouts, step workouts, and dance workouts. And Jane Fonda’s diet recommendations include eating healthy, minimising red meat consumption, and going low on carbs. It’s nothing alien to fitness-loving millennials. But there are still many things that make this exercise program stand out, even by today’s standards.
The great thing about Jane Fonda’s workout is that you can do them in the privacy of your own home. If you’re intimidated to go to the gym or are scared of being judged, then this at-home workout is perfect for you. But even if you are a regular gym-goer, Jane Fonda’s exercises are a fun way to add cardio and supplement your current routine.
Fonda worked with cardiologists and physiologists to make sure that the 30 and 60-minute routines were safe, even for beginners. She also recently released the Prime Time workout, a special exercise routine just for seniors or people with injuries. If you want something more advanced, you can spring for the Jane Fonda Workout Challenge: a high-energy, 90-minute class to build strength, increase flexibility, and develop your endurance.
Who Is It For?
There’s virtually no barrier to entry—you don’t need expensive equipment, it’s great for people of all fitness levels, and you can easily squeeze it in between chores or before you go to work.
It’s also incredibly accessible. You can get Jane Fonda’s workout DVDs or stream it online via Amazon Prime Video for less than $10—a steal, especially when compared to $60 gym memberships or $15 spin classes. You can even get some of it on YouTube.
But, for all its benefits, this may not be the best workout routine for everyone.
Some people may be put off by the repetitive nature of the workout video. The exercises never change or scale up, even as your fitness level improves.
People who are already working out might find that the Jane Fonda Workout isn’t challenging enough. If your main goal is to build muscle or tone, then lifting weights might be a better idea than this cardio-packed program.
More than just being a classic icon of the 1980s, Jane Fonda’s workouts are surprisingly still fun, easy, and an effective way to get fit. It also leaves us nostalgic for the days of matching leg warmers and leotards, big hair, and Jane Fonda’s peppy voice yelling at us from the TV to “go for the burn!”