In 1981, Olivia Newton-John sang “Let’s get physical” And rightfully so, as the 1980s saw a major rise in the use of leg warmers and VHS workouts. Let’s see where our favorite 1980’s fitness stars are now.
Raquel Welch published a workout lifestyle book on aerobics and yoga.
The book was a major success, and the fitness guru’s poster was a best-seller as well.
Raquel Welch – Now
Welch proceeded to act in various films, taking on roles of strong female characters. She was extremely influential in movie history, often portrraying powerful characters.
Welch was awarded a Golden Globe Award in 1974 for her performance in The Three Musketeers and for Right to Die. In early 2023, Raquel sadly passed away at the age of 82.
Richard Simmons – Then
Picture Richard Simmons. Does the first image that pops to your head that of an exaggeratedly vibrant and charismatic fitness star pop up?
Simmons was known for his quite ‘out there’ and flamboyant personality and gathered an enormous fan base after sharing his personal struggles with obesity.
Richard Simmons – Now
Simmons has not made a public appearance since 2014 and his fitness gym “Slimmons” in Beverly Hills, California closed abruptly in November 2016 without a public statement.
His disappearance from the public eye has sparked speculation and concern about his well-being. We hope that he’s doing alright and still rocking his short shorts.
Cher – Then
In her 1991 book called “Forever Fit: The Lifetime Plan for Health, Fitness, and Beauty,” Cher rocked her best fitness gear, looking strong and determined.
She blossomed in the ’80s as a fitness diva, singer, and performer and earned her well-deserved spot as an icon of the ’80s.
Cher – Now
The singer is still able to give a stellar performance, as seen in her performance at the 2017 Billboard Music Awards.
She can’t stress enough the importance of living a healthy and active lifestyle and proves her lifestyle is holding up quite well against the test of time.
Heather Locklear – Then
Heather Locklear was what you would call, a triple threat. The multi-talented woman made many girls envious and left many guys fantasizing.
She was well known for her fit physique, which led to girls running to stores to buy leotards in hopes of even slightly resembling her.
Heather Locklear – Now
Celebrity trainer Garret Warren who trains at Woodland Hills Athletic club said of Locklear “Heather is one of the nicest people I’ve ever met, but also one of the most professional."
While she parted ways from her home workout videos long ago, she has since moved on to big-screen films. We’re happy to still be seeing the star.
Denise Austin has produced fitness shows and exercise videotapes, and written books and columns on exercise and healthy living.
She has had a long-running exercise program called getting fit with Denise Austin on ESPN2. She is also a former member of The President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports.
The now 60 plus year-old continues to promote fitness to this day. In an interview with shape, the fitness star said: “I still have so much fun promoting fitness. It never goes ‘out of style’ or gets old!”
In 2014 she released her 100th DVD which she called Yoga Booty Lift.
Tamilee Webb – Then
The widely praised series, Buns of Steel and Abs of Steel made Tamilee Webb a household name in the late ’80s. Over $10 million were brought in from video sales.
Her success earned Tamilee a position on FitTV as a fitness expert. The channel is owned by Discovery Communications and ESPN Fitness Pros.
Tamilee Webb – Now
Years later and Tamilee Webb is still rocking those buns of steel and rock-solid abs. She is still releasing workout videos, her latest the Abs of Steel 1, Buns of Steel 3, and Arms & Abs of Steel.
The star also holds a master’s degree in exercise science and is the CEO of her company, Webb International.
Kathy Smith – Then
Kathy Smith became popular for her workout videos during the late 1980s. Her videos have since sold more than 16 million copies.
She created her own nutrition and exercise program which she titled Project: You! Type 2. It was created in collaboration with the American Diabetes Association to help people manage their type 2 diabetes.
Kathy Smith – Now
Kathy Smith has seen major success in her career as the “titan of the workout industry.” Through personal fitness apparel, books, equipment, and videos, her brand has made over $500 Million.
More recently she wrote a book called Moving Through Menopause which garnered her the role of the spokesperson for the International Council on Active Aging.
Jake Steinfeld – Then
It’s hard to talk about this muscle builder without mentioning his nickname which brought him great success- “Body by Jake.”
He created FitTV, a 24-hour fitness lifestyle network. He subsequently sold the network to News Corp in order to take on a new project- founding the Major League Lacrosse.
Jake Steinfeld – Now
Having a business mindset is what brought Jack so much success. His latest idea came in the way of transforming the training industry for the modern tech age.
He created the FitOrbit 2.0, an online personal training platform that provides the services of trainers and nutritionists at affordable prices.
Jamie Lee Curtis – Then
In 1985, Jamie Lee Curtis starred alongside John Travolta in the film, Perfect. The film was based on a number of articles in the late 1970s that chronicleded the popularity of LA health clubs among single people.
The film brought Curtis more recognition and had Quentin Tarantino claiming that it was a greatly under-appreciated film.
Jamie Lee Curtis – Now
Jamie Lee Curtis's career took a turn for the better when she became the unstoppable scream queen and starred in horror films like Halloween II, The Fog, Prom Night, Terror Train, and Road games.
She is recognized for her humanitarian work which includes her support and advocacy of children’s hospitals.
John Travolta – Then
If girls didn’t fall in love with John Travolta's super short shorts in Perfect then they definitely fell for his perfectly greased hair and bad boy character in Grease.
He is fully deserving of a spot on this list.
John Travolta – Now
Although his acting career saw a decline in the ’80s, after starring in Pulp Fiction, his career enjoyed a revival shortly thereafter.
He has received numerous nominations for his performances and won a Golden Globe Award for Best Actor in a Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy for his role in Get Shorty.
Arnold Schwarzenegger – Then
The Austrian-born star started to gain worldwide attention at the young age of 18 after winning one of his first major competitions, the junior Mr. Europe contest in 1965.
Apart from his fitness career, he also wrote a monthly column for Muscle & Fitness and Flex, two bodybuilding magazines.
Arnold Schwarzenegger – Now
He had his breakthrough role in 1982 in Conan the Barbarian and shortly after he appeared in the Terminator movie franchise.
As if fitness and acting career weren’t he ended up serving as governor until 2011. Oh and one of the best professional bodybuilding competitions which were named after him.
Lou Ferrigno – Then
Lou has had a long and versatile career, including working as a fitness trainer, consultant, actor and professional bodybuilder.
Prior to his fame, Lou worked as a sheet metal worker for $10 an hour. Luckily, he realized that there were better opportunities meant for him and left the job in pursuit of greater things.
Lou Ferrigno – Now
Following his bodybuilding career, Lou played football for the Toronto Argonauts but his career was cut short after he broke the legs of another player.
He later went on to star in The Incredible Hulk, which clearly fits the mold. At the start of the 2000s, he was cast in The King of Queens, playing himself.
Judi Sheppard Missett – Then
The 80’s fitness industry would be nothing without Jazzercise. Jazzercise, a dance fitness franchise company that was founded by Judi Sheppard Missett in 1969.
She made it her mission to create a class that combined dance with physical fitness. The concept quickly took off and people were hooked.
Judi Sheppard Missett – Now
Judi is still fit at the age of 74. In June 2016, she wrote a piece for the Huffington Post titled “Don’t Act Your Age.”
In it, she shared her relationship with fitness and her prosperous career in the field.
Tonya Harding – Then
In the mid-’80s, she became a prominent face in the world of skating. Tonya achieved several accomplishments throughout her skating career, like being the first American woman to execute a triple Axel.
She also competed in the 1994 Winter Olympics Figure Skating Competition. However, the controversy seemed to trail Harding every step of the way.
Tonya Harding – Now
One month prior to the 1994 Winter Olympics, champion Nancy Kerrigan was beaten in the knee. Harding was convicted in court and the attack received a lot of publicity.
In 2017, a biographical film was released titled “I, Tonya.” It received positive reviews. Harding continues to be referenced in popular culture, in T.V, film, and music.
Nancy Kerrigan – Then
Her family wasn’t financially equipped to deal with the high costs involved in professional figure skating, her father did everything in his power to help his daughter make her dreams come true.
In 1987, Nancy took fourth place at the junior U.S Figure Skating Championships and her jumping skills and talent became widely recognized.
Nancy Kerrigan – Now
After the scandalous attack that changed her life, she luckily recovered and was able to compete in the 1994 Olympics in Norway.
Most recently, she was spotted on Dancing With The Stars for season 24 and made it until the seventh week.
Chris Evert Lloyd – Then
Chris started playing tennis at the age of 5, thanks to her father Jimmy who was a professional coach. She made her professional debut in 1971 at the Grand Slam tournament at the young age of 16.
She consistently won seven French Open singles, a record that remained unbroken for 27 years.
Chris Evert Lloyd – Now
Her career was at an all-time high in the ’80s. She decided to leave the sport in 1989 after winning 154 singles titles, 18 Grand Slam singles, and 32 double titles.
Apart from her career, Chris was married three times to fellow athletes. She currently runs a tennis academy in Florida and contributes to Tennis magazine.
Sharon Bruneau – Then
Initially, a successful model until a bad case of pneumonia led her to lose a lot of weight. Bruneau began to lift weights in order to put on weight and go back to modeling but was countlessly rejected for her new “larger” frame.
She found great success in bodybuilding, becoming Weider Health and Fitness publications first-ever female representative from 1991-1998.
Sharon Bruneau – Now
Sharon retired from bodybuilding after the 1994 Ms. Olympia contest and switched instead to fitness competitions but shortly left that a year later. She has held small roles in films including Paste.
Nowadays, she can be found inspiring others through motivational workshops in which she discusses how health and fitness impacted her life.
Tracy Austin – Then
Tracy Austin has three Grand Slam titles and the mixed doubles title at the Wimbledon Championships in 1980.
She is the youngest person ever to win the US Open female singles champion in history since 1979 and is the youngest person to be inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame.
Tracy Austin – Now
Since retiring in 1994, she has contributed her deep knowledge as a commentator on NBC and the USA network and is a regular broadcaster on the Australian Open and the BBC’s coverage of Wimbledon.
In 2010, she joined the US Open team on the Tennis Channel and has been covering the Rogers Cup on Canadian TV since 2004.
Jane Fonda – Then
The best-selling workout video of the ’80s was by far The Jane Fonda Workout. It sold more than a million copies all over the world.
Due to her popularity, she released 23 videos and saw sales skyrocket to 17 million copies, topping the charts of workout videos. Jane was unbeatable.
Jane Fonda – Now
Jane is still taking the world by storm and producing workout videos, this time for a more fitting crowd for her age group- an older one.
Besides her career as a fitness instructor, she has recently been starring in a successful sitcom "Grace and Frankie." She is also a political activist.
Alyssa Milano – Then
Before casting spells on people in her role on the television series Charmed, Alyssa was getting her fit on. At just 16 years of age, in 1988, she created a teen workout video called “Teen Steam.”
The video was intended to teach girls how to let off some steam from the everyday problems of mothers and boys.
Alyssa Milano – Now
Milano has built quite the resume for herself since with shows like Melrose Place, Charmed, and My Name is Earl. In 2013, she acted in Mistresses for two seasons but left due to family issues.
Milano married Creative Artists Agency agent David Bugliari in December 2009 and the two have a son and a daughter together.
Linnea Quigley – Then
Linnea’s workout video was not your typical at-home workout setting. She (bizarrely?) released a horror workout with zombies at poolside aerobic session.
We aren’t sure how motivational this was in terms of fitness but we’ve gotta give her points on being different.
Linnea Quigley – Now
Linda Quigley became the “scream queen,” after appearing in a number of low-budget horror films. The B-movie actress has also dipped her feet in singing and writing and has written three books.
These days she is a dedicated animal rights activist and active with PETA. She has been a vegetarian since the late ’70s.
Paula Abdul – Then
Paula Abdul was discovered by The Jacksons. She released several dance and fitness videos and has worked as a choreographer for some of the most famous celebrities including Janet Jackson.
Her first workout video was called Paula Abdul’s Get Up and Dance! Following this, she released Cardio Dance and Cardio Cheer.
Paula Abdul- Now
Paula has gained worldwide recognition as a judge on American Idol. Following that long gig, she was a judge on the X factor, Live to Dance and So You Think You Can Dance Australia.
For her contributions and choreography work, she was awarded the Lifetime Achievement award in 2013.
Cynthia Kereluk – Then
Cynthia Kereluk was an exercise queen, but also landed the title of Miss Canada and Miss Universe in 1984, thanks to her charm, and apparently perfect genes.
Her impact was so profound that she had an audience both in the U.S and in Canada and her own fitness program called Everyday Workout.
Cynthia Kereluk – Now
Kereluk had a short-lived career as a workout master and a beauty pageant winner. Following that, she became an actress in various B-Movies like Overnight, The Pink Chiquitas, and Mark of Cain.
She married English rocker Paul Rodgers in a surprise wedding in 2007. Paul had recently finished up on tour with Queen.
Olivia Newton-John – Then
While she may be most recognized for her role in Grease as Sandy, she was highly celebrated for a number of other accomplishments. In 1981, she released her most successful studio album, the double-platinum "physical."
Following the success of the album, she released another double platinum album and with that, another Grammy nomination.
Olivia Newton John – Now
Olivia hung her towel up long ago, and with great respect. The star was a four-time Grammy Award-winner has sold over 100 million albums worldwide.
Other interests of hers included working as an activist for environmental and animal rights issues. She had a career of over 55 years and in August 2022 she sadly passed away.
Cathy Lee Crosby – Then
Cathy gave one great performance after another in television shows and movies. In order to keep up her good looks and fit frame, unlike taking it to the gym or dance studio, the actress took to the tennis courts.
Crosby was actually quite the skilled player and made it her mission to compete in Wimbledon.
Cathy Lee Crosby – Now
Crosby made it to Wimbledon but soon after quit playing tennis. Crosby then split with ex-husband football star Joe Theismann.
She sued him for $4.5 million with claims that he “abandoned his promise to financially support her.” Her last film was Ablaze in 2001 where she acted opposite Ice-T and Tom Arnold.
Tony Little – Then
This is not your average fitness guru. He sold more than $4 billion worth of fitness products via infomercials.
How’d he do it? We’re sure that his not-so-typical hairstyle, trademark smile, and chained necklace had something to do with it.
Tony Little – Now
Considering his not-so-smooth childhood (his dad abandoned him and his mother) Little was still able to pull it together and find success in fitness.
However, he was often the subject of bullying and ridiculed by other television personalities like Fabio, Richard Simmons, and Susan Powter.
Fabio Lanzoni – Then
Known as Fabio, the Italian norm actor slash model appeared on the cover of many romance novels and fitness magazines. Many people saw him as the personification of a Roman God on earth.
He released an exercise book and fitness video called Fabio Fitness. Girls couldn’t get enough of his blonde locks of beach-wavy hair.
Fabio Lanzoni – Now
Fabio chose to stay in television and films and became the face of the Versace fragrance, Mediterraneum and appeared on The Bold and the Beautiful several times.
He started a business called Healthy Planet Vitamins and was named a spokesperson for the American Cancer Society.
Suzanne Somers – Then
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.”
However, advertising exercise equipment wasn’t her highest aspiration so Somers went on to pursue other endeavors.
Suzanne Somers – Now
Suzanne has had a very successful career in which she’s played several roles such as Chrissy Snow on Three’s Company or as Carol Foster Lambert on Step by Step.
She has written several best-selling books and even poetry. Her work as a health spokesperson has gotten her some criticism but she remains an admirable individual.
Jennifer Beals - Then
She received critical acclaim for her role in Flashdance in 1983 winning NAACP Image Award for Actress and received a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress-Motion Picture Comedy or Musical.
She brought popularity to the off-the-shoulder shirt and leg warmer look and made dancing your way into physical perfection all the rage.
Jennifer Beals - Now
As stunning as ever, Jennifer Beals looks like she can still perform the iconic “Maniac” routine. She hasn’t stopped starring in films and TV shows since her breakthrough in the 80s.
We imagine that having a daughter now does make things a little different. She stars in The L Word: Generation Q.
Gilad Janklowicz - Then
The Israeli native fitness icon made history when his “Bodies in Motion” workout program aired on ESPN.
Nobody could forget Gilad’s toned Arms against the Hawaiian backdrop. And for just half an hour a day, you could up your fitness game from the comfort of your home.
Gilad Janklowicz - Now
Gilad’s show is the longest-running fitness show in the US running from 1985 to 1996. He produced more than 30 workout videos and worked with high-profile clients.
For his contribution to the fitness world, he was inducted into the National Fitness Hall of Fame in March 2007.
Quite different than the rest of the perky spandex-wearing aerobics stars on the list, Mr. T was an iconic symbol of the 80s.
Mr. T was known for his tough-guy image with his distinctive Mohawk hairstyle, gold jewelry, and ripped biceps.
Mr T - Now
Mr. T’s life took quite a turn and his career has parlayed from working as a bouncer to a bodyguard for several high-profile individuals including the famed Muhammad Ali, Steve McQueen, Michael Jackson, and Diana Ross.
He also dabbled in pro wrestling and made several TV appearances, advertising endorsements, and film cameos.
Bess Motta - Then
Bess Motta was easily recognized as the aerobics queen of the 1980s. She was one of the “bevy of beautiful girls” on the Canadian fitness phenomenon “20 minutes workout.”
She has been credited with putting TV aerobics on the map. She became a fitness advocate after coming back from England 30 pounds overweight.
Bess Motta - Now
The big-haired provocative fitness star turned to acting, landing small parts in The Terminator, New Monkees, and The Home Show.
Her last appearance was in 2014 when she was on Ken Reid’s TV guidance counselor podcast. An aerobics comeback wouldn’t go unappreciated.
Derrick Evans - Then
AKA “Mr. Motivator,” is a Jamaican-Born British fitness instructor who rose to fame on the UK show GMTV where he led live fitness sessions.
His trademarks were his tight-fitting and colorful spandex outfits. He went on to produce a number of fitness and workout videos like “Mr. Motivator’s 10 Minutes BLTs” and “Bums Legs & Tums.”
Derrick Evans - Now
Derrick has since retired from his bright-colored outfits but takes to colorful things in new ways- his Jamaican ecotourism resort, PaintSplat.
He also continues to appear on fitness TV programs.
Karen Voight - Then
Karen was such a fitness queen that she trained other fitness icons like Kathy Smith and Keli Roberts as well as big names in Hollywood like Tina Turner and Bette Midler.
She also consulted with the talented Paula Abdul on her dancer workout videos.
Karen Voight - Now
Over the span of her career, she released over 25 fitness videos and published a book on precision training.
She is still recognized as a pioneer in the fitness world. She co-starred in a 90’s fitness video with supermodel Elle Macpherson and continued to make videos into the 2000s.
Debbie Reynolds - Then
The iconic Debbie Reynolds found fame with her adorable upbeat fitness video called “Do it Debbie’s Way” in 1983.
Alongside her starred other popular actresses such as Florence Henderson and Teri Garr.
Debbie Reynolds - Now
While the fitness came later, Debbie was a Hollywood star who received numerous Golden Globe nominations and an Emmy nomination. Her first leading role was in “Singin in the rain.”
Her dance studio in North Hollywood is still running today. Sadly, she died from a stroke in 2016. The accomplished star will be missed.
Susan Powter - Then
The Australian-born fitness personality Susan Powter became popular after moving to America. Known for her signature platinum short hair and red lipstick, she was somewhat of a rebellious personality.
She worked as a nutritionist, personal trainer author, and motivational speaker.
Susan Powter - Now
Her weight loss infomercial that caught on in the ’80s featured the catchphrase “Stop the Insanity.” She is still known for her edgy appearance and going barefoot.
Susan has hosted her own talk show and is still active in publishing and making TV appearances.
Billy Blanks - Then
Billy was a super successful fitness guru who is behind the revolutionary "Tae Bo" workout, a combination of martial arts (Taekwando) and boxing.
Tae Bo rose to popularity in the late 90s and helped hordes of people get in shape and burn calories.
Billy Blanks - Now
Blanks moved to Japan after he married his Japanese interpreter, Tomoko Sato, in 2009.
Blanks still teaches Tae Bo — and his workouts can be found on YouTube and on his website and — he also makes special appearances.