New-school spin on old-school exercise videos make workouts fun


woman working out at home

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I grew up during the celebrity workout craze of the 1980s and 1990s and, while I’ve moved on from celebrity worship and the empty promises of famous people trying to get me to lose weight, I still look back fondly on those cassette tapes stacked by the VCR. Workouts have evolved since then, but some of the newer celebrity exercise videos maintain the spirit of the old with some new twists. Remember, talk to your doctor before getting started to make sure these workouts are right for you.


Blonde Ambition

I was just entering the most amazing, epic puberty when Beverly Hills, 90210 became a pop culture sensation, so when Jennie Garth, the actress who played resident cool girl Kelly Taylor, released a workout video, Jennie Garth: Body in Progress, I was overjoyed. Why, my body was in progress, too! Surely this was the tape for me! I puffed my way through the workout, my bicycle shorts and frizzy ponytail held by a massive scrunchie making me feel just a bit closer to looking like a gorgeous teen dream, but ultimately, a workout video alone does not a healthy life make, and it didn’t help that the workout itself was kind of tedious.

I’m a much wiser person than I was back then and don’t blindly follow workout crazes and celebrity cash grabs, but I sometimes miss the goofy excitement I felt when working out with Kelly Taylor. I’m glad I found Be A Knockout With Kendra, a workout video released in 2010 featuring reality television mainstay Kendra Wilkinson, because it perfectly captures that mix of bubbly awkwardness that makes celebrity exercise videos so awesome. Wilkinson’s perma-grin, stilted affirmations and mild complaining about the tougher exercises throughout are actually endearing — stars, they’re just like us! — and, unlike Garth’s video, the celebrity is joined by a celebrity trainer, Nicky Holender, former pro soccer player who is now a part of the Radius Fitness team. He’s also one of my celebrity trainer crushes. The sculpted arms, the dazzling smile, that voice — you can’t lose, really. Look, working out is hard sometimes. Eye candy helps.

But I digress. The workout, which is similar to Holender’s fun, fast-paced Pro Skills Sampler for Radius, involves interval drills centered on sports such as soccer, football and basketball. Holender guides Wilkinson and us through the workout, pointing out Wilkinson’s proper form along the way, but there’s not an abundance of instruction. This workout is lots of fun for those who have an understanding of proper technique for basic exercises such as squats and lunges and are looking to add some intensity and a few laughs to their routine. Fitness lifestyle company Gaiam offers the workout free on YouTube. Follow along with the “Celebrity Workout” playlist from number six on. The DVD is available for purchase online as well.


Fonda’s new workout plan

In the nineties, step aerobics were all the rage; the ubiquitous cumbersome step platform took up space in living rooms across the nation, in no small part thanks to Jane Fonda, the grande dame of celebrity at-home workouts.

Fonda’s workouts are the antithesis of fly-by-night celebrity exercise videos. She is still getting making workout videos, now geared toward older folks and beginners who may need a gentle introduction to exercise and its basic components. The Fit & Strong Level 1 workout is a wonderful primer of basic toning moves and proper form. She also talks about important elements of health such as bone density. Her gentle AM Yoga Energy Boosting sequence, which focuses on breathing and very basic standing yoga poses, really does help me get centered and energized, while her cardio dance routines from the Firm and Burn Low Impact Cardio workout are easy to follow, a bit silly — she pays homage to John Travolta with iconic moves from Saturday Night Fever and Pulp Fiction in the Funk dance segment — and fun. Fonda’s workouts remind me that I don’t need to have, or aspire to have, a perfectly taut, toned body in order to enjoy exercise and its benefits. Check out a variety of her workouts on the BeFit YouTube channel, which also provide links to purchase Fonda’s exercise DVDs.

Put some fun into your workout with these celeb-powered workouts.