Favorite Fitness Icons of the '80s -- Find Out What They're Up To (PHOTOS)

Sara Morrow | Nov 13, 2015 Celebrities

The 1980s — the era of neon leotards and leg warmers, Jazzercise and Sweatin’ to the Oldies — had more than its fair share of fitness celebrities. From Jane Fonda to Jake Steinfeld, here's a look at those larger-than-life personalities you’ll remember from the decade’s workout crazes and VHS tapes.

Plenty of these fitness fanatics are still active, encouraging folks, some 30 years later, to continue living a healthy life. So, to borrow a phrase from Richard Simmons, let’s party off the pounds. 


Image © Splash News/Corbis

  • Jane Fonda: Then


    After the 1982 release of her first exercise tape, Jane Fonda’s Workout, the icon went on to sell 17 million copies of the 22 videos in the series. She might also be the only fitness personality to be immortalized in Sir Mix-a-Lot lyrics.

  • Jane Fonda: Now


    Since her ’80s breakout, Fonda has worn many hats. Most recently she crushed a recurring role in Newsroom and played one of the leads in the Netflix original Grace and Frankie. She also released another series of workout videos beginning in 2010, aimed at the boomer generation, whom she felt was being largely ignored by current options. Over the years, she’s been an impassioned activist, one with an active Twitter feed, no less. Fonda’s original VHS series was recently re-released on DVD


  • Richard Simmons: Then


    Perhaps one of the most notable — not to mention wackiest — fitness personalities of all time, Richard Simmons certainly isn’t lacking in the presence department: Loud outfits and an enthusiastic approach made his workout videos instant hits. After weighing more than 250 pounds in his late teens, Simmons lost the weight, moved to Los Angeles, and launched a veritable fitness empire.

  • Richard Simmons: Now


    Still teaching classes at Slimmons Studio in Beverly Hills, the star has more than 10 books and countless videos and DVDs under his belt – he even released a song and video, Hair Do, in 2013.

    More from The Stir: 17 Exercise Fads From the '80s and '90s You'll Want to Try Again (PHOTOS)

  • Kathy Smith: Then


    Kathy Smith’s late ’80s and ’90s videos covered nearly every workout trend, including aerobics, step and belly dancing.

  • Kathy Smith: Now


    Another '80s fitness icon that’s kept the business going 30 years later, Smith’s latest DVD is called Ageless with Kathy Smith. She also serves as a spokesperson for the International Council on Active Aging and addresses issues associated with getting older, such as the “Project: You! Type 2” program she kicked off with the American Diabetes Association.

  • Denise Austin: Then


    After graduating from college with a degree in PE, Denise Austin began co-hosting the already popular Jack LaLanne Show in 1981. Toward the end of the decade, she broke out on her own, launching Getting Fit on ESPN. She's also sold more than 20 million workout videos.

  • Denise Austin: Now


    Austin has nearly 100 fitness videos under her belt, including her latest, 2014’s Yoga Booty Lift. She also shares an all-around healthy living plan, with workouts, meal plans, and more on her own site. 

    More from The Stir: 8 Amazing Fitness Fads That Made Us Laugh -- Some of Them Even Worked! (PHOTOS)

  • Jake Steinfeld: Then


    Called the father of the personal training industry, Jake Steinfeld launched Fitness Break by Jake on CNN in 1982, but he’s perhaps better known for Body by Jake, which began airing in 1986.

  • Jake Steinfeld: Now


    Steinfeld has turned the brand into a big business, and as chairman and CEO of Body by Jake Global, he’s kept up with the changing times: In 2012 he debuted FitOrbit, a web platform personal trainers can use to connect with clients across the globe.