The 1980s were glorious times indeed. Legends were born, fortunes were made, culture was in bloom, and spandex in all shapes and sizes was worn by all. And the enthusiasm with which these colorful spandex get-ups were worn knew zero bounds. If you don’t believe us, or if your memory needs a little tiny bit of refreshing, put on some comfy pants, and stick around while we bring you on an epic 80s throwback.
In this article, we bring you the best leotard-wearing, leg warmer rocking fitness stars of the 1980s. During that decade, it seems like these guys and girls and their shiny pants were everywhere, but as the decade turned, they faded out of our minds. Their celebrity and ubiquity further declined with the turn of the new millennium. Who were these people? And where are they now? Stay tuned and find out.
Lou Ferringo – Back In the 80s
Thank god Lou Ferringo was around and ruthlessly pumping iron in the 70s and 80s because if not, the producers of The Incredible Hulk would have been in big trouble. They’d probably have a hard time finding someone who was such a real-life Hulk. These were the days before CGI (computer-generated imagery) and they were the initial glorious times of Lou Ferringo’s career.
Besides Hollywood, Ferringo has also had a fruitful athletic career. He finished in fourth place in the world’s first World’s Strongest Man competition in 1977. He competed in some prestigious bodybuilding competitions in the 1990s, and then soon thereafter retired from lifting. Along the way, he has also been involved in lots of training work, where he helped people get ripped.
Lou Ferringo – Today
Do you even lift bro? Lou Ferringo, now 68, would answer with an unequivocal “yes.” Although he’s not exactly 20, he’s still really into working out and to be honest, he doesn’t look a day over 50. Good for him – #lifegoals. Anyway, our own envy notwithstanding, Ferringo has still got it. Over the last 20 years, he has appeared in a bunch of acting roles, including in The King of Queens.
As for spandex and exercise work, Ferringo’s muscles seem to have always been just a little too big for the confines of shiny fabric, but he’s always in the gym. He’s serious about other things though too. In 2013, he was sworn in as a special deputy at Delaware Country Sheriff’s Department in Ohio. Also, just a couple of years ago, he was made a member of the president’s Council on Sports, Fitness and Nutrition.
Kathy Smith – Back In the 80s
Kathy Smith is pretty much the quintessential American workout personality. She doesn’t act, she doesn’t sing, she doesn’t model, she’s not into activism, she doesn’t write. Nope, Smith is 100%, totally focused on fitness. Obviously she’s doing something right because she always looks stunning.
When she was only 17, her father tragically passed away due to heart issues. Then tragedy sadly struck again a year and a half later when her mother died in a plane crash. Smith started working out, she says, as a means to combat depression. She lived in Hawaii and attended college there. Her boyfriend at the time was really into running, so Smith also started. This lit the spark that would lead her to make ultra-famous workout videos.
Kathy Smith – Today
These days Kathy Smith is still going strong, at 68 years old. A few years ago, she released another exercise video, titled Ageless with Kathy Smith: Staying Strong. Not only does she look great in the video but she’s also extremely motivational. Seriously, with this awesome video you could have gone 20 years without eating a vegetable or exercising, then boom, put Smith on and your whole lifestyle stands a good chance at being revolutionized.
Besides spending time with her two daughters and staying in great shape, she also manages her website, which is consistently making waves in fitness communities. The website hosts Smith’s insightful podcast, her blog, offers a range of fitness-related products, and gives awesome recommendations for tasty and healthy eating.
Billy Blanks – Back In the 80s
At 11 years old, Billy Blanks started studying martial arts, including Karate and Taekwondo. Legend has it that when he became a big fan of Bruce Lee, he became inspired and decided he wanted to become a martial arts expert. His career ambitions didn’t exactly pan out yet, but something amazing did happen. He got a job as a bodyguard, and for one client, American actress Catherine Bach, he flew to Manila for the gig.
At the time, in 1988, the Philipines were in a state of social and political upheaval, which is the reason why the production crew of Driving Force insisted on security for the cast. The crew was so impressed with Blanks that they wrote him a part in the film. After gaining some show biz traction in more movies, he developed the Tae Bo workout and became a fitness legend.
Billy Blanks – Today
In 2009, Billy Blanks separated from his wife of 33 years after she filed for divorce, citing “irreconcilable differences.” A couple of years prior, Blanks met Tomoko Sato, as she worked as his Japanese interpreter. A few years later, the pair linked up again, fell in love, got married, and Blanks relocated to Japan for a few years.
In terms of his professional life, since his big break in the 80s, Blanks has been killin’ it non-stop. Throughout the last few decades, he has produced a steady stream of workout videos and martial arts techniques. He has also traveled to some volatile places, such as Iraq and Afghanistan, to teach his martial arts and fitness techniques to American military personnel.
Richard Simmons – Back In the 80s
If we had a dictionary featuring an entry called “American fitness personality” you would find a picture of a smiling Richard Simmons beside it. He’s the definition of classic. Simmons comes from very modest beginnings; working at restaurants in L.A. After grinding away in the service industry for a while, he developed a passion for fitness. He notes that during the 70s, fitness centers had a bias for favoring the already-fit customer.
The perceived bias left him feeling that there was not enough attention given to people who are totally out of shape, who in some ways, need help the most. He opened a studio called “The Anatomy Asylum”, where through his workouts, he emphasized healthy eating and mutual support. His health club began to draw major attention, and he was subsequently featured in a bunch of programs. And then, almost all of a sudden, he became a star!
Richard Simmons – Today
Simmons gained critical acclaim through his outstandingly positive workout videos, his successful studios, and his Emmy Award-winning show, The Richard Simmons Show. Since then, throughout the 90s and early 2000s, he made numerous appearances as himself on TV series. They included shows like Whose Line Is It Anyway? and Saturday Night Live.
It’s a little hard to know what’s up with Richard Simmons precisely today because he made a retreat from public life in 2014. Some speculation that eventually lent itself to outlandish theories started swirling around in 2016. One crazy theory was that his housekeeper was holding him hostage. Concerns were allayed when he posted a message on Facebook saying that he was fine, but just a little under the weather recently. We hope he’s fine now!
Bess Motta – Back In the 80s
First of all, cool name girl. Most celebs with cool names turn out to have chosen them as their professional aliases, but not Motta. It seems that this is her actual name. Anyhow, Motta is often credited for the birth of TV aerobics. She is one of the first pioneers responsible for making TV fitness videos a thing, as she popularized the much-fabled 20 Minute Workout series.
At some point in the early 80s, she traveled to England, and when she came back, she realized, to her great dismay, that she had gained 30 pounds. This prompted her to go headfirst into fitness. She got so into it that she became a fitness advocate and started producing videos. The videos went wild, and she got huge (in the celebrity sense). Although at a lower key, she has also done some acting work, appearing, for example, in a small role in The Terminator.
Bess Motta – Today
These days, Bess Motta is still busy, and she’s still in remarkably good shape. Just hit up her Instagram for a quick browsing session and you’ll see tons of pictures of her working out. We don’t know if she has a gym in her house but in a lot of photos, she’s riding workout bikes, or doing the plank on some other machine.
Reliable information on Motta in 2020 is a little scarce, but through a few solid sources we’re able to weave some more things together. She doesn’t do any acting anymore, but a few years ago she appeared on Ken Reid’s TV Guidance Counselor Podcast. Also, rumor has it, and Instagram substantiates it, that she has taken up cosplay as a hobby. But don’t quote us on that!
Alyssa Milano – Back In the 80s
Alyssa Milano has been rocking the world of show biz for a while now. She is most known for her role as Phoebe in the popular series, Charmed. But did you know that when she was a teenager, she had a workout video? Forget CNN. Forget about the BBC. This ladies and gentlemen is news for us. We’re not lying. At 15 years old, she was the star in a peculiar video called Team Steam.
As one amazing author put it: “…so much more than the weird, ineffective exercises performed by a 15-year-old girl.” Indeed, the video is essentially an exercise tape, but it also includes strange music videos, sleepovers, and boy problems. We don’t know if it’s the 80s factor, the content of the video, or a bit of both, but we have to say, the results are somewhat comical. Check it out, you’ll have a good time!
Alyssa Milano – Today
Today, Alyssa Milano is 47, and it seems she is no less busy than she was when she was in her teens. Since the 80s, she hasn’t starred in another one of those videos. We guess that Teen Steam was so incredibly amazing that she never even had to consider another fitness video venture.
She still plays in all sorts of movies and shows, and can these days be spotted as Coralee Armstrong in the series, Insatiable. She has also taken up another trade lately: sports column writer. She attends tons of games, observes, and commentates on the results. She also has a sports gear label called Touch, which is doing really well; racking in a lot of Benjamins and keeping lots of game-goers warm during the match.
Jake Steinfeld – Back In the 80s
Since the 80s, Jake Steinfeld has sort of been a “Jake of all trades.” Most of his recognition comes first and foremost for being a big-time fitness guru. We’re not exaggerating when we say “big-time” cause he has some huge guns. But he also kept his game up in Hollywood, starring in a bunch of films and series during the 80s and 90s. Also, not to be overlooked, he’s an accomplished writer.
His career as a fitness icon began when he created FitTV, which became a mega-successful fitness network. He then went on to create Body by Jake, a fitness company, specializing in workout gear. After he built up some momentum as a fitness icon, he started to train some of Hollywood’s finest, such as Steven Spielberg and Harrison Ford. He has also written several books, some of which became New York Times bestsellers!
Jake Steinfeld – Today
What’s this muscle man up to today? If you look up some pictures of him, you’ll notice that for one, he’s clearly still hitting the gym hard. Of course, he’s not as massively ripped as he was in the 80s or 90s, but he’s still game. In terms of acting, he’s not that active anymore; long gone are the days of Big Brother Jake or Money Pit, but when it comes to business, he’s still going strong.
His company is thriving, and since the 90s, he has also founded a music label, and a youth lacrosse league, all of which are booming. In addition, his penmanship is strong as ever, having just released a new book a few years ago called Take A Shot! He’s now 62 years old, and he’s an incredible whirlwind of activity and energy, and we’ll admit – we’re a little jealous…
Suzanne Somers – Back In the 80s
Suzanne Sommers is nothing if she’s not versatile. That is, she’s an actress, singer, businesswoman, author, and of course, last but not least, she’s an 80s fitness guru. In the 60s and 70s she started playing in all sorts of small roles, including on a few talk shows. By the time the 80s fitness wave emerged, Somers was ready, hypothetical surfboard in hand.
She starred in a famous workout video called ButtMaster Workout Tips, where she can be seen crunching, dipping, and squatting up a storm. Just after the peak of the age of spandex, she became the spokeswoman for Thighmaster, popping up all in infomercials in all sorts of ungodly hours. We guess if you’re up at 4 am watching infomercials, then maybe you needed to strongly consider starting to change your life around.
Suzanne Somers – Today
If the 80s fitness craze eventually (and sadly) lost momentum, Suzanne Somer certainly did not. Throughout the 90s, she appeared in more exercise machine commercials as she continued to thrive as a face of well-being and fitness. Still, after the 90s she showed no signs of slowing down.
Fast forward to 2012 and Somers is the host of the Suzanne Show, where she welcomed and interviewed (modern podcast style) a variety of different guests with whom she discussed health, fitness, nutrition, and well-being. The show aired for 13 episodes on the Lifetime Network. Going forward a few more years to 2015, she competed on Dancing With the Stars but ultimately didn’t win. Today, she’s 73, looks great, and lives a great life.
Paula Abdul – Back In the 80s
Paula Abdul started on her path to fame as a cheerleader for the Los Angeles Lakers. In the 80s, when spandex and fitness were peaking, Abdul went head-first into the music and choreography scene. She released a couple of albums that did really well, then she eventually found choreography work with the Jacksons. That’s right, already in the 80s, she was super high profile.
When it comes to 80s fitness, Abdul is a little bit of a late bloomer, to be honest. After making big waves in the pop choreography sphere, she decided to try her luck with working out. In the early 90s, she released her workout debut, titled Paula Abdul’s Get Up and Dance! The video was sort of a mix between hip hop and working out, but it got major attention in the fitness world, and soon propelled her to superstar status.
Paula Abdul – Today
Well, where is Ms. Abdul today? After her big workout and dance break she enjoyed in the 90s, she made her way to become an esteemed judge on American Idol. Wait, back up a decade. We forgot to mention: she won a Grammy and five MTV Video Music Awards for her music endeavors! Yeah, she’s a real superstar.
Abdul was married a couple of times, but then subsequently got divorced after a couple of years each time. Ok, back to the 2000s. So, after her American Idol stint, she returned to music. We don’t quite know why, but it seems that to a large degree, she left her spandex days behind her in the early 1990s. Too bad – those vibes were awesome. As of today, Abdul resides in Las Vegas and does various forms of performance work there.
Jack LaLanne – Back In the 80s
Jack LaLanne might be the lord of motivational quotes in the world of fitness. “Remember this: your body is your slave; it works for you.” or “…exercise is the catalyst. That’s what makes everything happen.” are among his most notable. He’s a classic among classics. Long before the 80s fitness wave became a thing, LaLanne was giving people health advice and teaching them how to work out.
When the 80s rolled around, he was not particularly young, but that didn’t stop him from squeezing into some spandex and riding the wave. And he continued to do what he always did best: teach people fitness and health, and, impressively, invent workout machines. Actually, despite the incongruent name, LaLanne is credited with inventing the Smith machine.
Jack LaLanne – Today
Jack LaLanne lived a healthy life and lived happily to the ripe old age of 96. He passed away from natural causes in 2011. Allegedly, he even had a great workout the day before his last, which is truly admirable and says something profound about the effects and benefits of living a healthy and active life.
LaLanne was a pioneer, and a true visionary; a man way ahead of his time. When health, sports, and nutrition sciences were a lot less advanced than they were in the 80s, LaLanne was already blazing a trail and ultimately helping to pave the way for the rest of the 80s spandex crew. In fact, he might even be one of the movement’s foundational, but sometimes overlooked pillars. Rest in peace Jack LaLanne, you deserve it.
Lizzie Webb – Back In the 80s
Lizzie Webb, known by her fans as “Mad Lizzie” gained national fame after making her debut on the morning television program, Good Morning Britain. Throughout the 80s and 90s, she became widely recognized and loved for her energetic attitude and her casual, pajama-like, fitness ensembles.
Following her debut, Webb created a total of nine popular exercise videos including Pop Dance with Lizzie and Shake-out with Lizzie. She also wrote eight books. She is most known for her time starring in a children’s television show, Joggy Bear, which premiered at the end of the 80s. The show involved Lizzie and a bear mascot named Joggy teaching children about the importance of staying fit.
Lizzie Webb – Today
Since her time “shaking it out” and staying fit with a human-sized bear, Webb has not strayed from her fitness-loving ways. Today, she has partnered up with Olympic rowing silver medalist, Debbie Flood to run an organization that goes by the name Creativity in Sport.
According to the program’s website, Creativity in Sport was created “to enable pupils in primary and secondary schools to acquire knowledge with a kinaesthetic approach to learning.” The goal of the program is to provide young adults with the qualifications to integrate exercise, sport, and dance into a regular school curriculum.
Diana Moran – Back In the 80s
Nobody can rock skin-tight green lycra better than fitness guru, Diana Moran. Between 1983 and 1987, Moran hosted a popular exercise segment on BBC1 and became very well known for that gorgeous green get-up. So much so that it earned her the nickname, “the Green Goddess.”
Following the success of this program, Moran released a successful BBC book, record, and video titled Get Fit With The Green Goddess. Way to ride that green wave as far as you could Moran! In addition to several other notable television appearances, the Green Goddess published her second book, A More Difficult Exercise in 1989 which was an autobiographical story of her successful fight against breast cancer.
Diana Moran – Today
Today Diana Moran, is still staying fit and is still rocking the green. Since her fight against breast cancer, Moran has become a proud advocate for finding a cure. She has partnered with several charities and has recently focused a great deal on campaigning to raise awareness about breast cancer symptoms among women over seventy.
Throughout her fight against cancer, Moran has not forgotten about her love for staying fit. She is still a regular writer and broadcaster and has authored a number of major fitness centered publications including Ease into Fitness and more recently, Beating Osteoporosis: The Facts, The Treatments, The Exercises.
Tamilee Webb – Back In the 80s
Anyone who grew up in the 80s and 90s will probably recognize this fitness guru from her Buns of Steel and Abs of Steel video series that gained huge popularity at the end of the 80s. Back in those days, everyone aspired to look as good in a high cut leotard as Tamilee Webb did.
It was because of this high bar that made her videos so successful. She has sold more than 10 million copies and has earned a number of prestigious awards in the field of personal fitness. Webb was also one of FitTV’s fitness experts and has earned a master’s degree in exercise science. So if you have ever doubted this woman’s qualifications, think again!
Tamilee Webb – Today
Fast forward a few decades and Webb is still killing it in the wonderful world of fitness. And it looks like she hasn’t aged a day. It’s no wonder people are still following her self described “no-nonsense” programs in hopes of getting and staying in tip-top shape.
Since her success in the 80s, Webb has written four best-selling books, including her newest book, Defy Gravity Workout, which she published in 2005. In 2008, she was also inducted into the Fitness Hall of Fame. While she keeps coming out with more hits, her Buns of Steel series continues making its comeback by popular demand and still reigns as her all-time best-seller.
Derrick Evans – Back In the 80s
Jamaican-born British fitness instructor and television personality, Derrick Evans, spent a great deal of the 80s cultivating his fitness-fanaticism. He eventually found popular success in the 90s, having appeared on the popular British morning show GMTV. His dynamic personality and interactive role on the show saw him earning the nickname he was better known by, Mr. Motivator.
Viewers of the show were invited to ask him for tips or advice. But perhaps he is most remembered for his extra colorful an extra tight-fitting outfits, that fans will remember from his numerous workout and fitness videos. He was a real personality throughout the 90s on the fitness circuit.
Derrick Evans – Today
Now, at 67 years old, Mr. Motivator hasn’t slowed down yet. He actually had a bit of a break throughout the 90s, where he stepped out of the public eye. But in 2009 he made a triumphant return to GMTV, hosting a three-week-long special, and releasing an autobiography!
In it, he dove into his upbringing in Jamaica and his rise to stardom as a fitness instructor and wellbeing coach. He even tried briefly to break into the music scene in 2012 but has since shelved that particular dream. Today, you’ll find him busying himself with charity work or helping people with multiple sclerosis get active.
Gilad Janklowicz – Back In the 80s
Israeli-born Gilad Janklowicz rose to fame in the 80s as a fitness instructor. He is best known for appearing on America’s longest-running fitness show, Bodies in Motion – not forgetting his other TV show, Total Body Sculpt with Gilad. He was unique in his fitness offering as he had served as an instructor in the Israeli Army.
Interestingly, Gilad actually branched outside the realm of instructing in the late 90s and early 2000s. He found himself hosting a television game show whereby contestants were made to match the body muscles (shown through a monitor) to cast members of Body in Motion! It got more challenging as the show went on, as images of the muscles were steadily getting less visible.
Gilad Janklowicz – Today
In recent years, Gilad produced the show Total Body Sculpt with Gilad which would air on FitTV until The Discovery Channel combined their health and fitness channels. It still airs today – for those of you missing Gilad you can find him on Jewish Life Television!
And after having created over 30 workout videos, he was finally recognized in March 2007 for his enormous contribution. He was inducted into the National Fitness Hall of Fame, and he still didn’t stop there. A few months later, he followed up by releasing 3 new DVDs for his Total Body Sculpt Series and most recently released Gilad’s Express Workouts. We don’t know what it is about this guy but he never stops!
Cher – Back In the 80s
We all know Cher; she barely needs any introduction here. Of course, her prime element of celebrity comes from her legendary music career. But did you know that she rode the tail end of the 80s fitness wave? Yeah, she spandexed with the best of them, check it out, the results are pretty epic.
Shortly after the release of her final album with Geffen Records, Love Hurts in 1991, she released a fitness book called Forever Fit. Following the release of the book, she also followed up with some videos, titled CherFitness: A New Attitude and CherFitness: Body Confidence. At the time that she put out her videos, the 80s were just wrapping up, but the spandex era was still on fire.
Cher – Today
As of this moment, Cher is 73 years young and still rocking it left and right, up and down, and all around. So, she’s super active today but she’s also been going strong the whole time. In 2018, she made a film return for the musical Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again. Her own music is also still thriving these days.
In 2018, she also headlined the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardis Gras. We have to say, although she’s almost in her mid-70s, she looks great and her voice is just as awesome as ever! More recently, Cher has done some work in the fashion world. Just a few weeks ago, she took on the role of “new face of the brand” for Dsquared. For Cher these days, the spandex have taken a back seat. They are gone but not forgotten.
Mr. T – Back In the 80s
Mr. T – pitying fools since the 80s. We know Mr. T, but no one knows him by his real name, which is Lawrence Tureau. For some reason, Mr. T just doesn’t strike us as a Lawrence. Anyway, in 1980, Mr. T was spotted by Sylvester Stallone while he was participating in a “toughest bouncer” competition. He was invited to audition for a small role in Rocky. Stallone and the rest of the crew and cast fell in love.
They loved him so much that he was cast as the main antagonist. And his career was thus born. By the time he gained prominence, it became evident that Mr. T was a fitness freak. Known for his tough demeanor and guns (sculpted by countless hours at the gym), he quickly became an icon in the fitness world, often discussing exercise techniques and the methodology of getting ripped. Although his clothing style had its own eccentricity, spandex weren’t his deal.
Mr T – Today
Since Mr. T had his big break in the early 80s, he has successfully entrenched himself in the show biz bedrock and has even become sort of a cultural icon. Over the decades, Mr. T has appeared in commercials for numerous companies, including Snickers, RadioShack, and Comcast. He has had a pretty steady presence on the screen. His last appearance was in 2017, where he competed on Dancing with the Stars.
Also, when it comes to his fitness guru-ness, he has not let up, not even a little bit. He’s now 67, and he still hits the gym all the time and he still packs some major muscle. We would ‘not’ want to mess with him. Although confirmation of this information is elusive, some sources indicate that his daily workout includes 50 push-ups, 50 squats, 1.5 miles of running, 15 minutes of punching bag work, 50 jumping jacks, and 100 sit-ups. Wow.
Judi Sheppard Missett – Back In the 80s
If you’ve ever been into that unique little slice of culture where fitness meets dance then you probably know (or maybe even love) Judi Sheppard Missett. Sure, listening to music while you break a sweat is common, but what’s about going one step further and totally merging the two? Missett is the mastermind and creator of Jazzercise, which is the archetypal coupling of pop music and working out.
While she was in university, Missett started teaching dance. Her program was pretty rigorous. She noticed that a high percentage of new students ended up dropping out pretty early on. She then came to the conclusion that a lot of the students that came to the class were just looking to have a little bit of fun, and her class was too serious. She switched everything up, and it worked! The whole gig was transformed into a fun, musical workout class.
Judi Sheppard Missett – Today
Today, the Jazzercise method has become tried and trued, and Missett, now 76, is still actively running the derived company (called Jazzercise). Also, she still dances and teaches. So she’s not just sitting on the couch (which she views as her company’s only competitor) and racking in the boatloads of money Jazzercise generates, she’s completely still involved in every aspect of the enterprise.
Jazzercise is bigger than most people sometimes realize. Some reports suggest that in the 80s, at the height of the workout craze, the Jazzercise franchise was a big as Domino’s Pizza. Today, Jazzercise is just as huge as ever, with global cumulative sales over $2 billion! Missett plans on passing the franchise to her daughters eventually, but for now, she’s still dancing away.
Rosemary Conley – Back In the 80s
Recall the fabled Rosemary Conley, writer of the famous The Hip & Thigh Diet. In the mid-70s, Conley decided she wanted to get fit and lose some weight. She started working out, and she was able to crush her goals, getting super fit, and losing a ton of weight. She really enjoyed the whole process, so much so, in fact, that inspiration struck her like a bolt of lightning.
In her native Britain, she started running an evening fitness class, calling it Slimming & Good Grooming Club. The endeavor was highly successful, so she decided to open more clubs. They were a hit. By now, she was gaining international attention in the fitness world. In 1988, she compiled all the fitness and nutrition lessons she learned and released the book (The Hip & Thigh Diet). Spontaneous combustion! She sold tons of copies and became a star.
Rosemary Conley – Today
Following the major success of her fitness clubs and her book, Conley went on to become a consultant with the retailer Marks & Spencer, helping them to develop and market their line of healthy food products. During that time, she also continued to expand her own brand, founding Rosemary Conley Diet And Fitness Clubs.
Today, Conley is 73, and still active, but she has delegated much of the management of her franchise to successors. Online, she still always gives advice and discusses fitness and nutrition, helping millions across the globe get and stay fit. She doesn’t mess around; visit her website and you’ll be flooded with sharp exclamations designed to help you on your fitness journey, such as “Leaving food on your plate is ok!”
Debbie Reynolds – Back In the 80s
Maybe you know Debbie Reynold because of her crazy long and successful acting career. Or maybe you recognize her best as simply being Carrie Fisher’s mother. Or maybe, just maybe, you know her from her contribution to the fitness world during the 80s era of spandex and workouts. By now we all know that 80s fitness culture came, made its mark, and went. The fad was basically a version of “I came, I saw, I conquered.”
Even people that weren’t necessarily from a fitness background got on board. Such is the case with Debbie Reynolds. After decades of celebrity and phenomenal show biz work, Reynolds hosted Do It Debbie’s Way, an 80s aerobic workout video. The video is a classic – jazz music, big smiles, vanity lights, spandex, leotards, it’s all there. It was a big hit, and it significantly added to Reynolds’s already-blazing stardom.
Debbie Reynolds – Today
Sadly, Reynolds left this world in 2016 at the age of 84. This was just one day after her daughter, Carrie Fisher tragically passed away. The whole world mourned the loss of this awesome mother/daughter pair. Inside the world of fitness, and to an even greater degree, out of it, Reynolds made her ever-lasting mark.
Her career spanned over 70 years! Wow, that’s 70 decades of acting, singing, and working out – impressive is an understatement. Her legacy is so huge it’s hard to define properly. Besides being remembered for her energetic, and really fun 80s workout video, she is the recipient of over a dozen prestigious accolades, among them, are Golden Globes, Emmys, and Tonys. Yeah… she was, and will always be a superstar.
Raquel Welch – Back In the 80s
Raquel Welch is one of those classic American sweetheart types. In 1966, she played in Fantastic Voyage, where she caught the attention of Hollywood. Subsequently, she was approached by 20th Century Fox and was offered a juicy contract. For the better part of two decades, she was making huge waves in Hollywood, and then the 80s came, and things got even wilder.
By 1984, the workout craze was in full effect and spandex was already ubiquitous. This was the glorious year in which Raquel released The Raquel Welch Total Beauty and Fitness Program. The whole package included a book and a series of workout videos. The book was successful, but the videos were a smash-hit, going Multi-Platinum. Game on.
Raquel Welch – Today
In the late 90s, the spandex was hung up and the fitness outbreak was contained (yes we know, speaking in pathology terms is frisky these days), but Raquel Welch didn’t lose momentum. In the early 2000s, Raquel starred in American Family and she also played a supporting role in Legally Blond alongside Reese Witherspoon.
Today, Welch is 79 years old and she’s still not quite retired. In 2017, she appeared in the sitcom Date My Dad. She doesn’t work out too extensively or intensely anymore, but she still looks fantastic! We guess all of those years of working our and tight spandex really do have something to do with preserving your youth.
Joanie Greggains – Back In the 80s
Joannie Graggains isn’t a Hollywood mega-star, but she’s no less glorious. This woman doesn’t mess around. She has always been 100%, pedal to the metal, focused on fitness. She started her career as a physical education teacher. In the late 70s, she made an appearance on a local San Fransisco talk show during the exercise segment.
Then, 1982 rolled around, and Greggains got her spandex together and started her program called Morning Stretch. The program featured Greggain working out and teaching her students the intense exercise regiment she created. The video gained mad traction and launched Greggains to stardom. In the following years, she released two more workout videos, and they too became massive hits.
Joanie Greggains – Today
After energetically riding the 80s fitness tsunami throughout the 80s and early 90s, Joanie Greggains continued to workout and release videos: one in 1999, one in 2003, and another in 2006. All in all, over the course of her colorful career, Greggains produced and starred in over a dozen exercise videos. She received tons upon tons of awards. So many, in fact, that we don’t have room to list them all here.
Here’s the scope of it though: over ten million copies of her exercise videos have been sold worldwide! Today, she a special advisor to the California Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports. She’s also the founder of several “Fit Camps”, which are pretty self-explanatory. Maybe we should take a trip to Cali and hit one of those camps up.
Mike Tyson – Back In the 80s
Mike Tyson – the man, the eternal boxing legend. At only 18 years old, at the height of the spandex fitness frenzy in the 80s, Tyson made his debut in the world of professional boxing. He gets in the ring. The match starts. Then, bang! He defeats Hector Mercedes via a first-round TKO. Two years later, at 20 years old, he became the youngest-ever heavyweight champion in the books. The rest is history (which, by the way, is wracked with trouble).
Naturally, in addition to being one of boxing’s undisputed champs, Tyson is a fitness monster. Already, in the late 80s, news of his grueling workout routine surfaced. It consisted of 200 sit-ups, 50 dips, 50 push-ups, 50 shrugs with weights, ten times a day, six days a week. No wonder he’s absolutely jacked. This is one dude we definitely would not want to get in the ring with.
Mike Tyson – Today
Where is Mike Tyson today and what is he up to? That’s a question that has controversial answers. After the 80s, it seems that Tyson was having difficulties in his personal life, which in turn led him to train less vigorously. In a 1990 match, his opponent, Buster Douglas got the best of him and knocked him out and won. In the following years, Tyson made a comeback but soon ran into trouble with the law.
After spending a few years in prison, he made another comeback. Throughout the 90s, Tyson’s boxing career was stable, and he was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame. These days, Tyson, at 53, makes appearances all over the place, including in the movie The Hangover. Further, there have been several documentaries made about him, and he is even the lead cartoon character in Mike Tyson Mysteries.
La Toya Jackson – Back In the 80s
La Toya Jackson was just in time to catch the tail end of the 80s fitness craze, which also oozed into the early 90s. She’s the fifth member of the Jackson family. She started gaining traction when she played on The Jacksons. Around the same time that the rest of her siblings started getting huge, she started recording solo albums and doing really well. From there it was pretty smooth sailing through the ocean of stardom.
At the start of the 90s, Jackson released an aerobic exercise video called Step-Up Workout. Watch the video and you’ll get a taste of that classic late 80s/mid 90s workout vibe; huge hair, kind of cheezy music, big smiles, and of course, good old spandex. Sort of comically, at one point in the video, Jackson says ” I chose the stepper because I felt it was one of the best workouts for me when I worked out on it once.”
La Toya Jackson – Today
Jackson’s history is sort of fraught with trouble. There were major issues with her then-husband Jack Gordon. And due to his prominence in the show biz world as a manager, he sabotaged many opportunities for her. She eventually escaped the bad relationship and went on to release more music. After her musical reemergence in the early 2000s, she decided to try her chances on reality TV, and she starred on CBS’s Armed & Famous.
For Jackson, as for many others, it seems that the fitness wave was just a fad; after her one video at the start of the 90s, she didn’t pursue fitness commercial fitness endeavors anymore. These days, she’s 63, and she manages Dream Cream, a cosmetics line she launched in 2010. She also still appears on all sorts of reality shows. Her most recent appearance was on The Masked Singer, where it was revealed that she was the Alien.
Chuck Norris – Back In the 80s
“Death once had a bear-Chuck-Norris experience.” “When a zombie apocalypse starts, Chuck Norris doesn’t try to survive. The zombies do.” The internet (and culture in general) is absolutely awash in these knee-slappers. How did Chuck Norris get such an iconic tough-guy reputation? He started his career as a martial arts expert who trained celebrities. Already then he was pretty big (in celeb status and muscle mass).
Then, he got a call from his friend, the legendary Bruce Lee, who invited him to play a villain in one of his movies. He liked acting, so he took it further. His big break came with the release of Good Guys Wear Black in 1979. In 1983, when spandex and fitness dominated the scene, he released an exercise book called Toughen Up! the Chuck Norris Fitness System. By this time, the full legend of Chuck Norris had taken form.
Chuck Norris – Today
Now, Chuck Norris is 79 years old. He’s not young, but he’ll never have a heart attack. Even a heart isn’t stupid enough to attack Chuck Norris…Jokes aside, these days Chuck Norris is basking in his legend status and is still busy. Throughout the rest of the 80s and 90s, he continued to play in action films. In the early 2000s, he entered the world of production and released The President’s Man.
And in the last couple of decades, he has appeared in a number of ads, video games, commercials, and articles. The “Chuck Norris facts” (of which we shared a couple here and we’re sure you laughed hard) started popping up in early 2005. Since then, they have become super prominent all over the internet. Norris is for sure going down in history an archetypal tough-guy!
Hulk Hogan – Back In the 80s
According to IGN Entertainment, Hulk Hogan is “the most recognized wrestling star worldwide and the most popular wrestler of the 1980s.” So we think it is fair to say that his body and strength put him fairly on this list of fitness influencers. Because of his reputation, Hogan was also involved in different health product endorsements.
Did you know he even created and financed his very own restaurant? It was called Pastamania and it was located in the Mall of America in Minnesota. He promoted the restaurant a lot on the World Championship Wrestling’s live show. But sadly the restaurant didn’t last longer than a year.
Hulk Hogan – Today
In more recent years, Hogan got more involved with different health and fitness-related companies. In 2006, he unveiled his own energy drink. He called it Hogan Energy. And who wouldn’t want the energy of Hulk Hogan? We wonder if you can still find it around town.
Hogan also launched a new website in 2011 called Hogan Nutrition. Hogan put different health-related content on the website. You can find different nutritional and dietary products and information. You can also find fabulous photos of Hogan in his prime on the website. Go check it out!
Elle Macpherson – Back In the 80s
We can’t write a list of influential fitness people and not include Elle Macpherson. We know that she never made an official fitness video but she has still been influential in the fitness world. She is famously known for her record five front covers for the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue.
Her first cover was back in the 1980s and this led to her nickname “The Body.” The nickname was actually coined by Time Magazine in 1989. Her tall, leggy and strong physique was the envy of the world. This shot her into front and center, and she has definitely used it as a part of her personal brand.
Elle Macpherson – Today
Now Macpherson is 55 and is still looking fit and fabulous. We wish she did do some fitness videos and gave us the exact workout routine that has kept her body looking so good. She also used her brand as “The Body” to start a couple of actual brands including a lingerie line and skincare products.
So although she never directly taught us how to stay fit, we all watched closely to see if we could be influenced by her routine. Macpherson also went on to act a little here and there. She even featured on the TV show Friends as a ballet dancer and model!
Tony Little – Back In the 80s
As you can see, and as you might remember, Tony Little is not so little. This archetypal American fitness dude doesn’t come from riches. His father abandoned him and his mom when he was really young. And then, as if abandonment wasn’t bad enough, Little got into a car accident from which he sustained multiple injuries. It was actually during his recovery that he started to develop exercise programs.
One thing led to another, and then before he knew what hit him, he became a star in the fitness industry. His fitness videos, with his famous coined catchphrase “You can do it” have won him a whopping 14 Platinum Awards and 9 gold video awards, reaching over 47 million customers worldwide! Whoa, Little is huge! He has also made a bunch of media appearances over the years, including, for example, on The Weird Al Show.
Tony Little – Today
Now, Tony Little is 63, but if he were to say that he’s in his late 40s or early 50s, we’d buy it because he looks awesome. To be honest not too much has changed for Little since his rise to fame in the 80s and 90s. He still makes appearances on TV regularly, his last one was just a couple of years ago, where he appeared in a National Car Rental commercial.
In the personal sphere, he has a great life and some nice kids with whom he spends lots of time. What’s about his fitness gigs? He’s still really active. He’s always in the gym, and if you check his Instagram, you can get some useful fitness and nutrition tips. His website, tonylittle.com, is doing really well. There you can find a bunch of gear, news, tips, and other various services. Going on the site makes you want to drop the ice cream and hit the gym.
Heather Locklear – Back In the 80s
Heather Locklear has been in the business for decades. What business exactly you might ask. And to this, we would answer “the acting business.” That’s correct, as you might recall, by trade, Locklear is an actress – and a very famous and successful one. She started small, doing some commercial modeling while in college. Then in the early 80s, she started making TV appearances. From there, her career took off, propelling her to stardom.
Since then, she’s played in over a dozen movies and over 50 series. As Locklear’s acting career was taking off, she decided to try and ride the emergent 80s fitness instructor wave, and she immersed herself in that world. In a Conan interview, she recounted starting with zero experience: “They have a little earpiece in your ear, and they’re like, alright two to the right, two to the left. And my arms are like … what are my arms doing?”
Heather Locklear – Today
Since Locklear’s career took off in the 80s, she has maintained a steady Hollywood presence. She played in the last Scary Movie film, and more recently she played a role in the series Fresh Off the Boat. Unfortunately, she has had some run-ins with the law, as well as some issues with substance abuse, raising concern in 2018 when she was hospitalized. Today, thankfully, she seems ok, and we hope she is recovering swiftly.
She definitely looks great at 58 years old. Since she entered the fitness world in the 80s, over the years she has accumulated a ton of experience, methodology, and street cred. Currently, she’s not as active in terms of fitness instructing as she once was, but she does still regularly discuss health and working out. The spandex outfits seem to have taken a back seat though…
Denise Austin – Back In the 80s
Throwback time. Remember Denise Austin? She started her career when she was just a little girl, 12 years old to be exact. She excelled big-time at gymnastics, which led her to bagging an athletic scholarship at the University of Arizona. At college, she continued to do great, and she continued to sculpt her awesome body.
She graduated from college and then started to teach fitness classes. We guess you could say the rest of the story is in “great shape”, as Austin continued her fitness teaching career and went on to produce a ton of workout videos. And of course, there was someone who “had her back” the whole time: her trusty spandex wardrobe.
Denise Austin – Today
After rocking at college and then starting up a super successful fitness video business, what was Denise up to? Well, let’s linger for a sec on the videos. Her first one was released in 1988. Since then, she has released over 50 more! Most of them have colorful titles, such as Hit the Spot or Denise’s Daily Dozen. Her most recent video was released just a few years ago and by all reports, it’s intense.
Now, Austin is 63, and she looks amazing! Clearly all those years of working out, being hot, and wearing spandex paid off. Austin also has some other interesting items on her CV after her initial startup. For example, she was a member of the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports! As of today, she still teaches classes, makes videos, and continuously adds high-energy content to her thriving website.
Jane Fonda – Back In the 80s
Jane Fonda is an extremely interesting and amazing woman. She has had an extensive career, one which involves acting, modeling, activism of different sorts, exercise videos, and of course, lest we forget, wearing spandex. She got her career fired up early – in the 50s. Her real rise to prominence came in the 60s with her breakthrough role in Cat Ballou.
Although her acting career was on fire (in a really good way), she didn’t compromise on her activism. Her show biz and activism gigs sometimes clashed and caused her some setbacks, but ultimately she was able to reconcile the two. In the 90s, she started another venture: exercise videos. They became highly successful, and she released Jane Fonda’s Workout. Thus her second career was jumpstarted, and the spandex closely followed.
Jane Fonda – Today
Jane Fonda’s career is diverse, and it’s certainly been a wild ride, spanning multiple decades. What’s she up to now? We guess there’s really something to the idea that working out keeps you young. Fonda is now 82 years old but she doesn’t look a day over 70! Amazing. In the early 2000s, she announced that she was quitting acting.
These days, she says she’s probably not young enough to keep making intense and grueling workout videos, but she still discusses fitness and well-being on her website which is very popular. In 2018, HBO released a documentary series called Fonda in Five Acts, reporting on her life from childhood to the present. She is also involved in all sorts of collaborations. And the spandex? They too seem to have retired from their show biz career.
Fabio Lanzoni – Back In the 80s
If you’re like us, you might know Fabio Lanzoni, or simply Fabio, as the epitome of European manly hotness. Interestingly, Fabio’s first job had nothing to do with being good-looking. In his home country, Italy, he was raised Catholic and served for a while as an altar boy. Then he beat up a priest and got kicked out of the country. Just kidding! He was an altar boy though.
As he was coming of age, he started intensely working out. One day at the gym, a photographer approached him as he was pumping iron. That’s when his modeling career kicked off in Italy. After gaining some serious traction (and probably breaking a heart or two) he set off for New York City. He was warmly received by the fashion industry there, earning himself great jobs at Ford Agency, Gap, and Nintendo, among others.
Fabio Lanzoni – Today
One of the highlights of Fabio’s career is the work he did for I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter!, where he was their major spokesman and model since 1994. Maybe because of his work there, many buttery toasts became slightly healthier? At this point, you’re probably wondering “what’s he up to now?” and “where’s his spandex?” He’s now 60, let’s have a look.
What preoccupies most these days is looking for love. It’s not hard to imagine that over the course of his life he has had a few women that were into him, but these days he wants something real. In a Washington Post article, he recounted a former love that never played out: “She had the biggest heart, was always there… But I was too young and wild.”