The 1980s was a hilarious time in fitness — we didn’t have sleek, edited IG videos. Instead, the 80s was stuck with VHS tapes, fitness television shows, and other corny blasts from the past. Still, they shaped the fitness industry into what it is today, and many of them still carry influence in 2021. After all, for the real ones, fitness is a lifestyle, not a fad. Here are our favorite fitness celebs from the flashiest era ever.
1. Jane Fonda
The star of Grace and Frankie was the ultimate “it” girl back in the 1980s. In 1982, she released Jane Fonda’s Workout, an exercise video that went absolutely viral. After selling millions of copies, she followed up with over 20 more workout videos, making her series one of the highest-selling successes of all time. Along with her activist work, this makes Jane one of our top models.
2. Arnold Schwarzenegger
Nobody can deny it — The Terminator is and has always been the face of fitness in the 80s. Starting since the 1970s, this hulking bodybuilder’s accomplishments are too long to list. His workout video, Shape Up With Arnold, skyrocketed him to commercial success, and his book Arnold’s Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding is still a reference for bodybuilding today.
3. Heather Locklear
Heather, like some of the other gals on this list, started as an actress, but after she was approached about fitness videos, she produced her own and had filmed Personal Training Sessions, which featured her in trend-setting leotards.
4. Suzanne Somers
Just like Fonda, Suzanne discovered the world of fitness only after she started acting. Her claim to fame isn’t a video series, but a product. Somers coined the first ThighMaster, a product that she still endorses and that still experiences success in modern times. Along with this accessory, she wrote many books on anti-aging, health, and hormone replacement after cancer.
5. Denise Austin
Denise still has clout in fitness today, and she looks just as fabulous as she did in the 80s. We first saw her as a co-host on The Jack LaLane Show at the beginning of the 1980s, before she hosted her own workout show and created her own videos. Today, she has over 100 videos and DVDs, acting as an inspiring fitness icon throughout all the decades.
6. Jake Steinfeld
Chances are, you’ve heard of Body By Jake. That’s because people have consistently used it from the 80s up until now. Steinfeld trains celebrities like Harrison Ford and Steven Spielberg, and he’s created a fitness empire, from television channels to innovative workout products. This entrepreneur was the creator behind FitTV, and is one of the pioneers to move from VHS to digital content.
7. Raquel Welch
This babe’s body was enough alone to get people to watch her video. Most people first laid eyes upon her magnificent physique in One Million Years B.C, where she wore that iconic bikini. From there, she released The Raquel Welch Total Beauty and Fitness Program. It was different from other programs at the time due to her incorporation of Hatha yoga moves.
8. Tony Little
Many of us remember this guy for his salesman style and flamboyant personality. And that ponytail. In 2006, he was inducted into the National Fitness Hall of Fame after more than 30 years of being a fitness pioneer. We’ll never forget his cheesy catch phrases on late night infomercials, but there’s one thing we can’t deny: he’s always been passionate about the health of the people.
9. Tamilee Webb
This queen of fitness released Abs of Steel and Buns of Steel in the 80s, earning her more than $10 million in sales alone! She also had a TV show to go with it, which received fabulous ratings. Today, it looks like fitness has helped her hold onto the fountain of youth.
10. Fabio Lanzoni
This bulky hunk was on the cover of many a romance novel, and his lusciously long golden locks didn’t hurt either. After being on the cover of books and magazines, he got picked up by fitness mags, becoming an icon in a space that he was passionate about. He went on to star in his own workout video and published a book which were both extremely popular.
11. Richard Simmons
Most people don’t remember Richard Simmons for his moves alone — instead, it’s his delivery and the bedazzled, loud outfits (and very short shorts) that went with them. Still, he was responsible for many weight loss transformations around the world, and he’s always had a body-positive perspective, even when it wasn’t friendly. Sweatin’ to the Oldies is his most famous work.