In the 1980s, the health-centric fad began to skyrocket, mainly fitness and aerobics. You didn’t have to rely on running the track or playing basketball anymore. The ’80s saw bright-colored tank tops and tights during workouts.
You also had a healthy dose of Jane Fonda and Jake Steinfeld to instruct you on your VHS players. It was an excellent time to stay home and ditch the gym thanks to these ’80s fitness stars. See what they’re up to now!
Jane Fonda – Then
Jane Fonda knew how to capitalize on the market. She was already a household name as an actress by the time she released The Jane Fonda Workout, thus helping her video become the highest-selling home video with more than one million copies shipped out.
All the baby boomers wanted to have possession of this tape. VCRs started selling in heaps just so people could sweat with Fonda. Her 23 series workout videos sold 17 million copies total.
Jane Fonda – Now
You can only do exercise videos for so long. Eventually, Fonda took an extensive break from all the workouts to focus on her acting career and private life. In 2010, 15 years after the last exercise video, Fonda came out with two new movies on DVD.
Having been out the spotlight or so long and new mediums out there, she had to switch her target audience. Her focus became older women. She currently stars in the Netflix original Grace and Frankie.
Heather Locklear – Then
Heather Locklear was a shining star in the ’80s. Her popularity only grew with each role she took on. From Sammy Jo Carrington to Stacy Sheridan, Locklear was guaranteed to put on a good show.
Her sensational body made her the belle of the ball. Men wanted to be with her and women wanted to be her. Locklear’s video Personal Training Sessions had people thinking they could get as beautiful and fit as she was.
Heather Locklear – Now
“Heather is one of the nicest people I’ve ever met, but also one of the most professional. She was always on-time, incredibly committed and very driven when it came to her workouts,” Celebrity trainer Garrett Warren said of Heather Locklear. That’s tremendous praise and things you always love to hear about others.
Now in her fifties, Locklear looks like she hasn’t missed a beat. It’s been some time since her last workout video, but she’s still busy with television work.
Cher – Then
While not many people can pull off the mononym, it wasn’t an issue for Cher. Her real name is Cherilyn Sarkisian, so that might have helped with the shortening of the name. Cher was a force on the mic, but also gathered attention with her interest in fitness.
Cher was an ’80s star without a doubt, but her exercise book didn’t come out until very early in the ’90s. Forever Fit: The Lifetime Plan for Health, Fitness, and Beauty was very popular.
Cher – Now
Cher is still in the spotlight a considerable amount, namely for her contributions to the music and film industry. Of course, she might not come out with any exercise videos anytime soon, but she still has a very fit body.
She might be keeping all the secrets to herself now!
Jake Steinfeld – Then
Jake Steinfeld was a genius when it came to marketing. He launched a very successful company Body By Jake helping to push him to the top of the ranks in the fitness industry. He became an icon during the process.
Steinfeld brought the fitness life to the screens and made a fortune while doing so. Many credit him for popularizing the fitness industry. He started his own network, the 24-hour FitTv which he would end up selling to News Corp for a load of money.
Jake Steinfeld – Now
Jake Steinfeld grew up a natural entrepreneur. He’s always had a knack for business so that’s why he started his huge company called Body By Jake Global. He just transformed his training business into a massive company.
Steinfeld didn’t stop there, however. He also started a weight loss program called FitOrbit. He’s just all over the place! In 2001, Steinfeld also started the first professional outdoor lacrosse league and called it Major League Lacrosse. The man just doesn’t know how to stop.
Denise Austin – Then
Born in Los Angeles, California, Denise Austin started gymnastics when she was 12 years old. She earned an athletic scholarship to the University of Arizona, where she ranked No. 9 in the NCAA on balance team. She graduated with a degree in physical education and exercise physiology, so it’s no surprise that she forged a successful career as a fitness instructor in her twenties and beyond.
Austin began teaching classes and produced a series of popular exercise videotapes. She authored books on fitness and nutrition and garnered fans near and far thanks to her realistic approach to wellness. She upped the ante when she was named as a member of the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports in 2002.
Denise Austin – Now
Today, Denise Austin is still a big figure in the fitness industry. At 61 years old, she looks amazing and says she feels as great as ever. Austin has kept up with the evolving media industry, transitioning from VHS tapes to the web. She now offers various packages on her website for people who want to look and feel great.
Her daughter has also followed it her mom’s fitness footsteps, creating her own workout guides called Get Fit With Katie. The mother-daughter duo even teams up for workouts every now and then.
Kathy Smith – Then
Not everyone had a dual background like Jane Fonda. For Kathy Smith, she grew her passion for running and turned it into a workout video empire! Counting back since the ’80s, Smith’s videos have sold more than a million tapes.
She also teamed up with the American Diabetes Association to create a nutrition and exercise program called Project: You! Type 2. It helped those with the condition to manage their lifestyle within the limits of diabetes.
Kathy Smith – Now
They don’t call Smith the “Titan of the workout industry” for giggles. There have been few to come close to how successful Smith was in the workout industry. Her massive success earned her that nickname and we couldn’t agree more.
With a combination of her fitness books, tapes, apparel, and equipment, Smith made more than $500 million throughout her career. Her success got her into the Video Hall of Fame as well! She is also the International Council on Active Aging’s spokesperson.
Olivia Newton-John – Then
No matter what iconic role or impact she leaves on the world, Olivia Newton-John will always be known as Sandy from Grease. She can play the most outstanding role she’s ever done today, but Sandy will always be attached to her.
She was smart with her song “Physical.” The song spent ten weeks on the Billboard Hot 100, so she layered the suggestive lyrics on an aerobics themed tape and frolicked around in her workout attire.
Olivia Newton-John – Now
Her glory days from the ’80s might be over, but Newton-John is still out here touring and making music. One of her most recent albums, Friends for Christmas, which was an album with Australian pop singer John Farnham, entered at number one in Australia.
You might have caught her live in Las Vegas during her residency at The Flamingo Hotel. She was also a guest judge on Dancing with the Stars back in 2015 in case you missed it.
Richard Simmons – Then
One of the most widely-recognized fitness stars, Richard Simmons first began helping people lose weight in the 70s when he relocated to Los Angeles. Simmons opened his own fitness studios that welcomed people who were out of shape and overweight– something other studios at the time weren’t doing at the time.
Simmons’s popularity grew throughout the 80s and by the 90s he was making appearances on TV shows and commercials.
Richard Simmons – Now
In early 2014, fans noticed that Richard Simmons disappeared from the spotlight– we simply stopped hearing about him. This led to concerns for his health, and by 2016 people were wondering if there was something that was wrong.
Nevertheless, Simmons’s publicist assured the public that there was nothing to be concerned about, that the fitness star simply wanted to lead a more private life during this time. He lives with his three Dalmatians in Beverly Hills, California.
Jamie Lee Curtis – Then
Halloween is the movie that shot Jamie Lee Curtis’ career into the stratosphere. By the time she was in Perfect with John Travolta in 1985, her stardom was already peaking.
Perfect was based on the rise of Los Angeles health clubs during the ’70s and also stemmed from a log of articles from Rolling Stone in the ’70s. The film didn’t do so hot, but it helped thrust Curtis into the aerobic culture. Many in the athletic community loved the press the film brought them.
Jamie Lee Curtis – Now
If you thought Curtis would be at home minding her business this late in her career, then you need to think again. She became known as the “Scream Queen” thanks to her scary movie past. She starred in other films like Prom Night and Terror Train to further solidify that nickname.
The only down part about any of this is that Curtis hasn’t appeared in any exercise videos in quite some time. Fans will have to settle for more Halloweens.
Lou Ferrigno – Then
Before he became an actor, Lou Ferrigno had a career as a body builder. Fresh out of high school in 1969, Ferrigno won the title of IFBB Mr. America and won IFBB Mr. Universe four years later.
At that point, he trained with Arnold Schwarzenegger and decided he wanted to defeat Schwarzenegger in the Mr. Olympia competition. His attempts to do so were filmed for the documentary Pumping Iron, which made him famous.
Lou Ferrigno – Now
The same year that Pumping Iron came out, Ferrigno starred as the Hulk in 1977’s The Incredible Hulk. It was an obvious choice given his bulging muscles. This only added to the body builder’s growing fame. By the early ’90s, he was also a fitness trainer with clientele that included Michael Jackson.
He has his own line of fitness equipment called Ferrigno Fitness and appeared on the cover of Flex magazine in 2017. In May 2018, Ferrigno was appointed as a member of President Donald Trump’s Council on Sports, Fitness & Nutrition.
Tony Little – Then
Tony Little was never one to lack confidence. Just take a look at that ponytail, you’ve got to be dripping with confidence to rock a style like that, especially for a man. Little also called himself “America’s Personal Trainer.”
If you’ve gained $4 billion from the sale of fitness products, confidence is now your middle name. A car accident is what forced Little to begin making videos as he recovered. Little’s most popular product is the Gazelle which is an elliptical.
Tony Little – Now
Little’s father left him and his mother when he was very young and that effected him deeply. Still, he overcame it and become the fitness icon we know today. It’s always great to hear a perseverance story.
Due to the way he looks, (cartoonish smile, long pony tail, and insane workout videos) Little has always been an easy target to make fun of. Still, he managed to always laugh at himself and poke fun at others in the industry. You might catch him on a TV show here and there.
Cynthia Kereluk – Then
Cynthia Kereluk became something of a workout guru over in Canada. She grew a substantial fan base and never slowed down. She worked hard but also had great genes to help in sculpting her amazing figure.
Did you know that she even won Miss Canada back in 1984? She then went on to compete in Miss Universe that same year. Between ’85 and 2000, Kereluk hosted an exercise program called Everyday Workout that aired in the United States and Canada.
Cynthia Kereluk – Now
Outside of aerobics, Kereluk didn’t have much of a career to fall back on. Her looks landed her a couple of small roles in B-movies like Mark of Cain, and The Pink Chiquitas, but her acting never really gained any traction.
Luckily, she was able to live off of her three-decade-long show for quite a while. With all that behind her now, Kereluk ended up marrying Bad Company singer Paul Rodgers back in 2007 at a surprise wedding in British Columbia.
John Travolta – Then
If we’re going to include Jamie Lee Curtis, then we have to add her onscreen partner in crime, John Travolta. He was the reporter that ended up meeting Curtis’ character who was the fitness instructor.
There was a point in time when Travolta was unbelievably irresistible. Who can forget the scene when he winks at Curtis while participating in the class? Well, that was then so what in the world is the big guy up to these days?
John Travolta – Now
Following a decade of success, it was like Perfect came at the worst time. Then, he started taking on even more bad roles. Thankfully, people mainly remember him for the good movies he did participate in.
Thank goodness for the film that ended his slump, Look Who’s Talking. On top of that, old and young fans fell in love with Vincent Vega and the whole Pulp Fiction movie overall. He’s come a long way from Perfect.
Raquel Welch – Then
There was no one like Raquel Welch when she was in her prime. Having her in your film meant instant success, for the most part. As a side gig, Welch wrote Raquel: The Raquel Welch Total Beauty and Fitness Program.
The book gave tips and instructions on yoga workouts as well as lifestyle tips. She also made several videos based on the book that Andre Weinfeld directed. Her big break in Hollywood came from Fantastic Voyage back in 1966.
Raquel Welch – Now
Now in her late seventies, Welch has aged gracefully and her acting has also become better. You can’t say that for everyone, but Welch found the trick and made it work for her. She didn’t have to only have the roles that involved her popping up scantily clad.
The star won a Golden Globe for Best Actress in The Three Musketeers. She was nominated again 13 years later for her part in Right To Die.
Suzanne Somers – Then
Well before Suzanne Somers became the spokesperson for the Thighmaster, she already made a name for herself on the screen. She was starring on ABC’s Three’s Company when she played Chrissy Snow for the first five seasons.
Complex.com has an amazing quote about Somers. “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.”
Suzanne Somers – Now
Somers wasn’t the type that was going to let one role define her professional career. Her role from Three’s Company might be what many remember her for the most, but she’s also an author, businesswoman, singer, and spokesperson.
Somers even made her Broadway debut back in 2005 in The Blonde in the Thunderbird. She is still very much in the news for various reasons. However, people will always remember her for the Thighmaster whether she likes it or not.
Arnold Schwarzenegger – Then
When you bring up the ’80s, it’s almost impossible not to mention the great Arnold Schwarzenegger. Before he went on to blaze movie screens with his crazy action movies, he was a superb bodybuilder. He won the Mr. Universe title when he was only 20.
Considered the greatest bodybuilder of all-time, Schwarzenegger won the Mr. Olympia title a tremendous seven times. He still holds the crown as the youngest to ever win it at 23-years-old.
Arnold Schwarzenegger – Now
Schwarzenegger was amazing at bodybuilding, but he was also destined for a life beyond lifting weights. He was elected and served as the Governor of California. Schwarzenegger made some of the greatest action movies with the Terminator too. The only issue he ran into was at the start of his career thanks to his thick accent.
After his bid in public office, he returned to Hollywood. He was the “Governator” from 2003 all the way until 2011.
Tonya Harding – Then
Tonya Harding dedicated her life to ice skating since the age of four, eventually climbing the ranks in the U.S. Figure Skating Championships during the late ’80s. In 1991, she became a World silver medalist and landed a triple Axel in competition – the first American woman to do so.
But in 1994, Harding was stripped of her titles when it came to light that she conspired with her ex-husband to orchestrate an attack on her U.S. rival, Nancy Kerrigan, when they both competed in the 1994 Winter Olympics. She earned a life-long ban from the U.S. Figure Skating Association.
Tonya Harding – Now
It was revealed that Harding’s ex-husband hired the man who attacked Kerrigan. Harding herself pleaded guilty to her crimes. Immediately after her scandal, Harding’s fame took a dark left turn with a naughty video and an appearance in a low-budget film called Breakaway.
But in the early 2000s, she tried to forge a career as a boxer. This came about after rumors that she entered the ring due to financial difficulties. It didn’t last long because of her asthma. Her overall record included three winds and three losses. She was also on season 26 of Dancing with the Stars.
Nancy Kerrigan – Then
Like Harding, Nancy Kerrigan had been figure skating since she was just a girl. Kerrigan’s father worked three jobs just to finance his daughter’s figure skating ambitions. In 1991, Kerrigan placed third at the 1991 U.S. Figure Skating Championships and won a bronze medal at the World Figure Skating Championships the same year.
Kerrigan gained international fame as the victim of the attack associated with Harding. Footage after the incident shows Kerrigan gripping her knee and crying “Why, why, why?” However, she recovered in time for the 1994 Winter Olympics, where she earned the silver medal.
Nancy Kerrigan – Now
In 2017, I, Tonya about Harding’s side of the story debuted and Kerrigan didn’t care for it one bit. “I really have nothing to say about it. I haven’t seen anything,” she told The Boston Globe.
Kerrigan has maintained her name in the figure skating world since then. She retired from competition and later became involved with a number of ice shows. In 2017, she competed in season 24 of Dancing with the Stars but was eliminated early.