Let’s take a step back in time and remember those fitness stars, bodybuilders, and others who kept us all in such great shape during arguably one of the best decades ever, the 1980’s!
Fabio Lanzoni in the 1980s
It’s fair to say that it is obvious that you’ve made it when someone knows you only by one name. For Fabio, last name Lanzoni, that applies precisely. This 1980s heartthrob became a popular symbol of masculinity combining his impressive physique with his long hair. People often associated him with romance novels which he happily let use his name. His fitness book and video was titled Fabio Fitness and became an instant sensation with both his male and female fans.
Fabio Lanzoni as of Today
Although Fabio gathered a wide audience from his romance novels and workout routine, Fabio knew that opportunity lay at the tip of his fingers. Or at least at the tip of his gloriously long hair. Before long, Fabio had made the leap into film and television, appearing on screens both big and small where he gathered an even greater following of excited fans. One of his most memorable business ventures was with the company I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter!
Tamilee Webb in the 1980s
Tamilee Webb’s name has long been associateld with two of her most acclaimed fitness series, one that nobody from the 1980s would dare to have been without. Those two series were of course her Buns of Steel and Abs of Steel videos. Infomercials and other promotions drove sales earning Webb over $10 million.
Tamilee Webb as of Today
The turn of the millenium didn’t change Tamilee Webb’s passion for creating great home workouts for everyone to enjoy. Rather, she added on to her Abs of Steel and Buns of Steel series and started selling bundle packets that were available on DVD. As the world turned towards the internet and away from tapes and disks, Webb started her own company called Webb International. This was after she went back to school and got her master’s degree in exercise science.
Cynthia Kereluk in the 1980s
Known as the exercise guru of Canada, Cynthia Kereluk had spent most of the 1980s cultivating a wide fanbase who eagerly followed her workouts. Not only was she physically strong, she was also considered by many to be particularly beautiful, having won the Miss Canada competition in 1984 and gone on to compete in Miss Universe of the very same year. Her Everyday Workout program aired in both Canada and the United States making most of North America Cynthia fans.
Cynthia Kereluk as of Today
For the most part, Kereluk’s career was very much about the fitness craze of the era. She was able to secure a few small roles in mostly B rated movies but unfortunately she was never able to land any major parts and her career as an actor fizzled out. Not like she needed it much though, Kereluk was able to live comfortably for the last 3 decades off the hard work she had put into her popular work out tapes.
Judi Sheppard-Missett in the 1980s
It could convincingly be argued that the exercise movement which seemed to partially define the 1980s would not have been as gripping as it was without the work of Judi Sheppard-Missett. Sheppard-Missett launched a fitness routine which has been remembered until this very day. The act, nay, the art of Jazzercise. Her company eventually spawned a remarkable 8,300 franchises, each one full of people dancing along to that jazzy beat. Even the training for the franchisees was done via VHS.
Judi Sheppard-Missett as of Today
Throughout the decades, this Jazzercise queen hasn’t stopped. It’s fair to say that she is an example of how sticking to a lifelong fitness routine is possible (although to do so is undoubtedly hard). In an interview with the Huffington Post, Sheppard-Missett 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.”
Nancy Kerrigan in the 1980s
Unlike real royalty, Nancy Kerrigan’s title of the ice princess was something earned, not inherited by birth. Her parents worked hard, sometimes working multiple jobs at a time, so that Nancy could get on the ice and practice her skating. Her parents’ sacrifice most certainly paid off for Nancy Kerrigan, she went on to become one of the best skaters in the world. She competed in the National Championships and even earned a bronze medal at the 1992 Winter Olympics.
Nancy Kerrigan as of Today
Nancy Kerrigan would later make headlines not for winning more medals, but for taking a central role in the Tonya Harding drama. After receiving her injuries Harding’s face was seen in international newspapers as she cried, “Why, why why?” But it wasn’t completely over for Kerrigan, she did recover from her injuries and went on to receive the silver medal in Lillehammer. She then skated in ice shows and even on Broadway before making a more recent reality show appearance.
Chris Evert in the 1980s
A tennis star in the making, Chris Evert began training for the sport before she was even old enough to be in first grade. One could say it was in her genes to be a great tennis player. Her father had been one, and he began coaching her when she was at the tender age of five. Eleven years later, at age 16, Evert was invited to play at the US Open but sadly didn’t make it past the semi-finals.
Chris Evert as of Today
It didn’t matter though that Evert didn’t win her first match at the US Open, the pro tennis player ended up going on to win a record breaking 18 Grand Slams instead. In addition to those, Evert won another 136 titles and 32 double titles. Evert was able to reach the semifinals 273 out of 303 times she played in a tournament over the course of her career. Today Evert runs a tennis academy in Florida and works on ESPN.
Charlene Prickett in the 1980s
Born in Little Rock, Arkansas in the 1940s, one of the most defining decades of the twentieth century, Charlene Prickett jumped into the fitness scene just as it was beginning to define the 1980s. For Prickett, her intent was to combine simple, fun, and easy to do workout moves that could be enjoyed by anyone. As a result, many younger people looking for a more intense workout tended to turn away from her routines but were loved by the elderly.
Charlene Prickett as of Today
For Cherlene, her workouts were her own personal projects where she was not only the star, but also the director, and the writer of each video. Her time in the spotlight earned her the nickname the “Queen of the TV Gym.” While she was popular in the 1980s, she began to steadily decline going into the 1990s, taking a break from hitting the TV gym. She came back briefly in the early 2000s but didn’t stick around for much longer.
Cathy Crosby in the 1980s
Cathy Crosby was an outstanding tennis player, having played from an early age and moving into competitions as soon as possible. Before long, Crosby had the eyes of the nation on her, and was ranked seventh throughout the US. But Crosby had her eye on the prize, the highly renowned and prestigious tournament where only the tennis greats dare to go. We’re speaking of course about Wimbledon. As the tournament got closer, Crosby found herself distracted by her TV work.
Cathy Crosby as of Today
Crosby not only played in Wimbledon once, she participated as a player in that prestigious event a second time as well. She soon left tennis behind her for good following her achieving that goal, and set out to find success in Hollywood. After participating in some reality television, Crosby became the next Wonder Woman, a role she was famous for until it was passed to Lynda Carter. She is also remembered for her tumultuous relationship with NFL star Joe Theismann.
Sharon Bruneau in the 1980s
Sharon Bruneau seemed like someone for whom success just comes naturally. She began with a career as a fashion model, and after multiple photo shoots for high profile companies seemed destined for the top. Unfortunately, she contracted pneumonia, a disease which left her bed ridden and caused her to lose a massive amount of weight. But she didn’t let that slow her down, after recovering Bruneau decided to get into fitness, trading runways for barbells and appearing in fitness competitions.
Sharon Bruneau as of Today
As Sharon earned a reputation for her muscle bound physique she was eventually signed by Weider Health and Fitness publications to be their first ever fitness representative. It was a risky business move, as the company feared that their audience would not be receptive to having a woman representing bodybuilding. Ultimately it was a very smart choice, Sharon became the company’s representative for eight long years from 1991-1998. Since then she has appeared in movies and speaking tours promoting fitness.
Debbie Dobbins in the 1980s
Debbie Dobbins was born in the Philippines, moving with her family to the United States at a young age. While life in her new country was likely tough for her, she found that she was able to stand out from the crowd by participating in sports such as track and field and basketball. These sports kept her busy throughout her high school and college years, and after practicing aerobics outside the classroom decided that she would become a fitness instructor.
Debbie Dobbins as of Today
Debbie Dobbins seemed like she could do anything she put her mind to. Her workout routine increased in popularity throughout the years prompting Dobbins to take on her biggest challenge to date: the 1993 Miss Galaxy Fitness competition. In a remarkable feat for a first time competitor, Dobbins finished second in the highly rated competition and was determined to come back the next year for a second shot. Sadly, she never got that opportunity, Dobbins tragically died the year after.
Richard Simmons in the 1980s
Here’s a name that even most young people today are likely going to recognize. After all, without this workout star and his energetic and exciting personality it’s fair to say that the world of home fitness workout tapes may not have reached the heights that they did then. We are of course talking about Richard Simmons. Not only were his workout routines designed to kick people into gear, but his eccentric personality made it difficult for audiences to look away.
Richard Simmons as of Today
Sadly for many of Richard Simmons’ biggest fans, the colorful fitness guru has retired from public life, preferring to leave his reputation intact as the man who helped to spice up the fitness routine of the 1980s. That said, he still chooses to go out in public with his sparkling outfits, showing that he still has that spark of energy that made him so popular. Unfortunately the Richard Simmons gym he owned (known as Simmons Gym) closed down in 2016.
Tracy Austin in the 1980s
There must have been something in the Austin family that made them truly remarkable tennis players. Whether it’s genetics or lifestyle or something else going on there, the fact of the matter is that Tracy Austin and her siblings excelled at the sport of tennis. As good as her siblings were, Tracy alone rose above them, winning her first US Open title by 1979. That victory made her the youngest US Open female champion in the history of the sport.
Tracy Austin as of Today
There’s no doubt that had Tracy Austin continued down the path that she had started that she would’ve been universally remembered today as the best tennis player in the history of the sport. Unfortunately life sometimes has other plans, and Austin was suffering from a recurring bout of sciatica. While this forced her to put down the tennis racket, Austin wasn’t ready to walk away from the spot just yet. So she became a commentator for NBC and USA Network.
Heather Locklear in the 1980s
During the 1980s Heather Locklear was one of the most popular actresses to grace the screens of televisions throughout the United States. Renowned for her blond hair and athletic physique, Locklear was able to combine the classically good looks of someone like Marilyn Monroe, while keeping in shape with a body that was considered to be enviable during that era. Locklear wasn’t just on television shows though, she took advantage of the attention by releasing a series of workout tapes.
Heather Locklear as of Today
For Locklear, the secret to her success was simple, put in the work and be respectful doing it. To quote celebrity trainer Garrett Warren of the Woodland Hills Athletic Club, “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.” While not releasing anymore workout tapes she is still remembered by everyone who grew up in the 80s.
Olivia Newton-John in the 1980s
It’s fair to say that no matter what Olivia Newton-John does for the rest of her life it’s difficult for her to find a role or job that will replace her as Sandy from the hit musical Grease. Considered her defining role, it’s hard to forget just how good she looked strutting her stuff in that black jacket. In addition to her acting, Olivia is an accomplished musician, her first album, Physical, spent 10 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100.
Olivia Newton-John as of Today
While Olivia is no longer jumping around and dancing in her various colored leotards to songs made by her, she is still recording albums and making music. Her most recent Christmas album partnered her up with John Farnham, a very popular Australian pop singer, and was titled Friends for Christmas. Due to their collaboration and talent behind their musical abilities the album peaked in Australia at number 1. Since then she has performed on live TV and in Las Vegas.
Suzanne Somers in the 1980s
Suzanne Somers is known for more than appearing on television series. The woman turned herself into the representative for an entire company, one whose product remained popular throughout the 1980s. This was the Thighmaster, and according to Complex.com, “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 as of Today
While Suzanne Somers is defined by her acting career on television, this isn’t the only thing that this fitness model and actress did during her time. She also took her talents into many other forms of entertainment, including writing, singing, and public speaking. One of her biggest projects was her 2005 Broadway performance of her one woman show. While today she’s often seen in the news for making her political opinions known, her contribution to the Thighmaster won’t be forgotten.
Tony Little in the 1980s
Tony Little might have the word “little” in his name, but in stature and in personality he was anything but. Rocking a ponytail throughout America’s home fitness decade, Little blazed his way through the 1980s selling workout equipment and making an incredible $4 billion in sales. His ability alone to sell such a high volume of workout equipment speaks to the craze that America was going through during the time. His sales record earned him the name “America’s Personal Trainer.”
Tony Little as of Today
Ever heard of the expression quit while you’re ahead? Well Tony Little certainly did. As the fitness craze surrounding at home equipment began to die down in favor of gyms and other more modern workout plans, Little took his money and began his long, successful retirement. Even though he’s out of the public light, there are a few comedians who can’t help poking fun at “America’s Personal Trainer.” Little doesn’t mind though, and is more than happy to poke back.
Jane Fonda in the 1980s
Throughout the 1960s and 1970s Jane Fonda had already become a household name throughout the United States. Known for both her activism and her acting, Jane Fonda was poised to take the 80s by storm but only if she made the right moves. It turned out that Fonda was a savvy business woman, she saw the trends that were happening during the 1980s and ended up creating her own line of workout videos. Those videos immediately became popularized by fans.
Jane Fonda as of Today
After her exercise videos had sold an astounding 17 million copies, Fonda decided that she was ready to go back to focusing on acting and taking care of her personal life. But the popular workout instructor couldn’t stay away from these workout tapes forever. Fifteen years after the release of her last workout video Fonda released yet another workout instructional video for her many fans. Rather than being released on VHS though, this one came out in 2010 on DVD.
Kathy Smith in the 1980s
It’s unfair to compare someone like Kathy Smith to Jane Fonda. While Fonda got into the workout game after having been in the public light for nearly 20 years, Kathy Smith made an entry without having any celebrity popularity to back her. But, at the end of the day, she’s sitting right on this list next to Fonda. While her tapes didn’t sell quite as much, over one million were sold making Smith one of the most popular fitness instructors.
Kathy Smith as of Today
Kathy Smith didn’t just pack up her bags and move to the Bahamas after selling her one millionth workout tape though. Rather, Smith decided to double down, betting big on one person she knew she could rely on, herself. After seeing the popularity of her tapes she invested more into the workout industry, producing books, tapes, equipment, and clothing. She ended up making over $500 million with everything, and earned herself the honorary title of “Titan of the Workout Industry.”
John Travola in the 1980s
While not a workout guru himself, John Travolta had all eyes on him during the 1980s, making it likely that if he had decided to put out a series of tapes, he likely would’ve done very well for himself in that arena. Instead Travolta decided to pursue even greater success as a movie star, appearing in the film Perfect next to Jamie Lee Curtis as he danced his way into her heart. It is both perfect and perfectly cringe worthy.
John Travolta as of Today
While we still love turning on Perfect and seeing John Travolta shake his stuff for Jamie Lee Curtis, the film ended up being the first in a long line of flops starring the 80s heartthrob. Much of the 80s and parts of the 90s resulted in Travolta starring in films which just didn’t manage to capture their audience’s attention. It wasn’t until Travolta teamed up with Samuel Jackson in Pulp Fiction that Travolta made his way back into the mainstream.
Denise Austin in the 1980s
Even though Denise Austin had the relatively innocent name of “America’s Fitness Sweetheart,” she dominated the field and rose to heights that few had even dreamed of. Austin attended California State University, Long Beach where she kept up with her fitness so that by the time she graduated she had the experience needed to begin teaching it. Eventually her routines were taped and written down and sold to the eager masses who were looking forward to their next Austin lesson.
Denise Austin as of Today
As time went on and Denise Austin got more and more popular she was eventually given the opportunity of a lifetime. In the early 2000s President George W. Bush decided to name her to the President’s Council of Physical Fitness and Sports. Even after the world of politics, Austin refused to become a cynic, telling SHAPE magazine, “I still have so much fun promoting fitness. It never goes ‘out of style’ or gets old!” Today Austin stays in great shape.
Cherilyn Sarkisian in the 1980s
Originally born Cherilyn Sarkisian, this powerful singer and fitness fan decided to change her name to the more pronounceable and memorable mononym, Cher. Cher had dazzled the public with her unique and powerful singing voice and, during the 1980s, with her enthusiasm in fitness. That experience in fitness led to her publishing a book Forever Fit: The Lifetime Plan for Health, Fitness, and Beauty in 1991. The next year she released two workout videos both under her CherFitness brand name.
Cherilyn Sarkisian as of Today
Even at the age of 71, Cher hasn’t stopped working out her form and maintaining her impressive physique. While the age of exercise videos has passed for the most part, Cher still made sure that her fans knew she could overcome any physical challenge. In 2017 Cher made her first award show appearance in 15 years at the Billboard Music Awards. There, she performed several songs before getting into a bodysuit and saying she could do a 5 minute plank.
Raquel Welch in the 1980s
Raquel Welch is considered by many to have been one of the most beautiful women of the decade whose appearance on workout videos and in films would almost always draw a large crowd. In her book, Raquel: The Raquel Welch Total Beauty and Fitness Program, the fitness model and actress gave a detailed list of workout routines both in aerobic exercises and in yoga. Additionally she supplemented that with lifestyle tips to help teach how to live a healthy lifestyle.
Raquel Welch as of Today
Based on her critical reviews and box office successes it seems Raquel’s acting improved the older she got and more experienced she became in the world of acting. Rather than appearing as another beautiful woman in a feature with only a few lines, she was given roles front and center, roles that would earn her two Golden Globes. Even with this success her workout days were never forgotten with publications listing her as the best looking woman of all time.
Jake Steinfeld in the 1980s
Jake Steinfeld was able to rise to the top of the competitive fitness guru world by not only providing an excellent product, but by understanding the importance of marketing and developing an ingenious marketing campaign. His company, Body By Jake, made him an icon and many attributed his work to the popularization of the fitness industry. His 24 hour fitness network, the 24-hour FitTv brought him hefty returns as did his second project, the on demand fitness network, Exercise TV.
Jake Steinfeld as of Today
Even though Jake Steinfeld already had two successful companies under his belt, this business magnate wasn’t done yet. His third and most massive company would be his masterpiece. That company was far more massive than the other two and was called Body By Jake Global. Even with that he didn’t stop, choosing to create a weight loss program called FitOrbit in 2001 and founded the professional outdoor lacrosse league, Major League Lacrosse. Today he is currently a fitness podcast host.
Tonya Harding in the 1980s
Tonya Harding was born to the typical blue collar family in Portland, Oregon. Growing up her and her family engaged in many outdoor activities such as hunting. She also learned to work well with her hands, doing activities like fixing cars with her father as well. But Harding had one real dream, to skate in the Olympics, and win the gold medal for her country. After finishing fourth in 1992, Harding came back eager for the gold the next time.
Tonya Harding as of Today
Before her second round at the Olympics, Tanya’s biggest competitor, and another fitness guru from the list, Nancy Kerrigan, was assaulted by someone and had her leg hit with a club. Rumors went flying that the person who did it was somehow related to Tanya Harding, a charge she initially denied. After finishing eighth in the Olympics she pled guilty to conspiring to hinder the prosecution after it was revealed that it was actually her ex-husband who hired the attacker.
Jamie Lee Curtis in 1980
Jamie Lee Curtis was the dance partner to John Travolta in the 1985 film, Perfect. But by the time she was shaking her stuff next to the man she was already quite a capable and well known actress herself. The movie brought to light the rise of Los Angeles health clubs throughout the 1970s and was entirely based on a series of Rolling Stones articles. While the film itself was a flop, Curtis was put center into the aerobic culture.
Jamie Lee Curtis Acting Today
Jamie Lee Curtis was embraced by the fitness culture throughout the United States, but her main acting was in horror movies. In particular the very popular Halloween series where she played the character Laurie Strode. Her nickname of the “Scream Queen” became even more appropriate after she acted in numerous other horror films such as Prom Night, Terror Train, and Roadgames. While not in any more fitness films, Lee Curtis played to her strengths, appearing in the new Halloween film.
Marianna Komlos in the 1980s
The 80s workout craze was much inspired by the bodybuilding craze which had been a relatively recent staple of the time. When Marianna Komlos got involved in the fitness scene she did so with the intention of also becoming a bodybuilder and actually won the middleweight title at the British Columbia Championships. This was after only just over three years of training. Bodybuilding eventually turned into fitness modeling and later, WWE wrestling, where she went by the moniker Mrs. Cleavage.
Marianna Komlos as of Today
Sadly, Marianna wasn’t able to live to her full potential, if she had who knows where she might have ended up. The reality is that sometimes tragedy strikes in the most unexpected ways. In Marianna’s case it was breast cancer. She passed away from the horrible disease in 2004 at the young age of just 35 years old. Just before she died she had married stunt performer and martial artist Paul Lazenby – they had only been married a few months.
Lou Ferrigno in the 1980s
Before Lou Ferrigno became the actor that many of us know and love today, he was one of the best bodybuilders in the world. After high school he competed in the Mr. America competition, winning and moving on to compete against none other than Arnold Schwarzenegger in the Mr. Universe competition as well. Although he didn’t win his first round, he came back to compete several more times, winning four years later. This experience was the step needed for Hollywood.
Lou Ferrigno as of Today
After being cast as Bruce Banner it seemed as though the sky was the limit for the Mr. Universe champion. Ferrigno seemed to be perfect to play the hulk. Tall and muscular all he needed was green paint in order to complete the role. Since then he spent most of the turn of the millenium playing fictionalised versions of himself, but he hasn’t fully left his bodybuilding ways behind. In 2017 Ferrigno was featured on the cover of Flex magazine.