Do You Remember These 80s Fitness Instructors?

The 1980s was really the start of health and fitness becoming mainstream to the masses. Thus emerging during this time were many popular fitness gurus that were popularizing aerobics and various other workout methods. Some of these instructors became so popular that they even had their exercise videos or a television show, and many in fact became household names at the time!


With most people working out at home in front of their televisions, it was easy for these popular instructors to share their techniques with the masses. Lets take a stroll down memory lane and look at the most popular 1980s fitness instructors and what made them famous!

1. Jane Fonda

Jane Fonda
Jane Fonda

For most of us, the name Jane Fonda quickly brings to mind her workout videos. She was most popular in the 1980s with three successful exercise series on television called “The Workout” (1982), “Prime Time Live” (1987-88), and finally “Jane Fonda’s New Workout” which ran from 1989 until 1994.

However, she also had another claim to fame during this period: music! In 1981, she produced an album titled “Movin’ Up,” which included a single that made it to #17 on Billboard magazine’s Top 100 chart – not too shabby for someone who didn’t start as a musician! Her most popular video sold over 17 million copies!

2. Richard Simmons

richard simmons
Richard Simmons

Richard Simmons’ most popular form of exercise is the “disco workout,” which was brought to light in 1978 on his television show, but he also had a more famous moment during the 1980s. He became so well-known that even people who were not interested in working out knew him as an icon of fitness – and some went so far as to impersonate him!

Probably his most iconic fitness masterpiece was a mini-series called “The Sweatin’ to the Oldies” (1988) starring Richard Simmons himself! His most successful video series came out after this time, with none other than Oprah Winfrey singing its praises on her talk show. The videos are based on aerobics and dancing, making them fun for all ages.

3. Kathy Smith

Kathy Smith
Kathy Smith

Kathy Smith was most popular in the early 1980s with her aerobic workout videos. She started as a personal trainer for celebrities before moving on to creating her videos. Her series was so successful that she became one of the first women to have a video game based on her workouts!

The games were released for both the Commodore 64 and Apple II computer systems and allowed players to follow Kathy’s exercises. In 1987, she even starred in her television show called “Kathy Smith: Get Fit!” which aired until 1991.

4. Billy Blanks

Billy Blanks
Billy Blanks

Billy Blanks is mostly famous for his Tae Bo workout videos. He started as a karate instructor before creating his martial arts-inspired program. In 1988, he released his first Tae Bo video, which became an instant hit. The videos are based on a combination of boxing and taekwondo and have been credited with helping to start the fitness craze that we see today.

5. Denise Austin

Denise Austin

Denise Austin was most popular in the 1980s with her line of workout videos and even had a television show called “Denise,” which ran from 1986 until 1990. She also became one of the most successful authors of fitness books during this period, with many being bestsellers! Her most famous book is “Power Eating,” which came out in 1988 and has helped to turn many into vegetarians.

These are just a few of the most popular 1980s fitness instructors. Did your favorite fitness guru make the list?

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