Fonda’s hit workout tape, Jane Fonda’s Workout, came out on VHS in April 1982 and was the first non-theatrical videotape to top sales charts and was the top-selling VHS tape for the next six years. I have no idea when I learned about the tape, it feels like it simply seeped into my consciousness by way of knowing women who bought it, and to be honest I didn’t even really know what the exercises looked like or what type of workout it was until pitching this story. But if Jane Fonda can be as fit as she is at 84, it seemed as good a place as any to start setting myself up for more agile golden years.
Fonda’s workout tapes are available for rental or purchase on Amazon Prime Video, however most can also be found on YouTube with handy time stamps indicating when certain exercises start or where to skip to if you’d rather do the 55-minute advanced workout instead of the 30-minute beginners workout. (Remember, this was originally on VHS where you’d just have to fast forward and rewind to get where you wanted.) So a few weeks ago I loaded up her OG video, pushed my couch aside and got ready to see what all the fuss was about.
For the next 30 minutes, Jane Fonda and her leotard-clad crew guided me through a warm-up, arm, waist, leg, ab, hip and butt exercises, and finally a cool-down stretch. Immediately I found myself smiling and laughing along, partly because of the wonderfully outdated workout clothing and hairdos, but also because Jane herself is fun to workout with. She’s cheery and encouraging without seeming disingenuous or overly smiley. And you can tell that she and the others in the video are actually working out and feeling the burn, just like I was in my apartment. In fact, many parts of the workout were much harder than I’d anticipated. The arm exercises aren’t exactly hardcore—I eventually added in some light weights to make them tougher—but those hip moves? Whoa nelly, they really wiped me out.