Hey, remember VCRs? They may seem like primitive technology now, but when they were first made available to consumers for home use in the mid-1970s, these things changed the world. Suddenly people didn’t have to watch TV shows when the networks wanted them to. And not only that, but people could finally see they’re favorite movies again. Before VCRs, if you wanted to watch the Godfather again, your only hope was that some network might play it after the news on some random Saturday night. So yeah, the ability to record and watch programs at home was a big deal.
This ability also impacted the fitness business in a way people wouldn’t have imagined. Before the 1980s, “working out” was an activity limited to fitness nuts and athletes. It wasn’t something the average stay-at-home mom did. But then the VCR came along, and some genius had a brilliant realization: women want to look like celebrities and would probably be willing to spend a lot of money to make their dreams a reality.
So pretty soon all kinds of celebrities were making their own home workout videos promising women (and occasionally men) that they’d look just like them if they followed a few simple steps.
Of course, the tradition of celebrity workout videos continues to this day. In fact, practically every hot woman who ever had 15 minutes of fame has a workout video. And today, we celebrate this awesomely hilarious videos. So sit back, and get ready to burn some calories…laughing.
Ah yes, Paula Abdul. You youngsters out there think Paula is just some goofy lady who gets made fun of by Simon Cowell for a living, but back in the day she was a huge pop star with such hits as "Straight Up Now Tell Me" and "Opposites Attract." And in fact, Paula actually got her start as a Laker Girl, then as a choreographer for Janet Jackson. So doing a workout tape—a hilarious, late 80s/early 90s workout tape—was a no brainer.
14. Paula Abdul
Heather Locklear, star of such shows as Dynasty and TJ Hooker, was one of the biggest sex symbols of the 1980s. Every guy wanted to be with her and every girl wanted to be her, right down to the fact that she was married to Tommy Lee of Motley Crue (who was cool and not a total loser at the time). Thus, making Your Personal Workout was a total no-brainer.
13. Heather Locklear
Even though the Spice Girls first hit the scene way back in 1996 and had faded into pop culture trivia by 1998, in 2010 former Spice Girl Mel B (real name Melanie Brown) released a workout video called Get Fit with Mel B. Now, Mel B is looking pretty great these days, so the video has that going for it. But they were presumably banking on fame as a former Spice Girl to sell the video...which probably was not a wise move.
12. Mel B
In 1989, Sports Illustrated decided to take three of their sexiest and most popular swimsuit cover models—Elle Macherson, Rachel Hunter, and Cheryl Tiegs—and make a series of workout videos with them. Obviously, that was a great idea. I have no idea whether the fitness program worked, but who wouldn't want to watch these hot-chick all-stars doing a bunch of stuff in spandex?
11. Sports Illustrated Super Shape Up Program
At #10 we have our most ridiculous and scary workout video on this list. After all, in the 80s and 90s, Cher was kind of a weirdo. I mean, who the hell watched the music video for "If I Could Turn Back Time," which featured Cher half-naked on a Navy aircraft carrier performing for a bunch of seamen, and then thought "hey, I'm going to buy that chick's workout tape!" And just look at that outfit she's wearing as she explains her workout video—it's a freaking vinyl boustier.
Up until I was in high school, when I learned about the Vietnam War and all the turbulence that went along with it—including "Hanoi Jane" Fonda's extremely controversial anti-war activism—I thought the only thing the woman was famous for was making aerobics tapes and being married to Ted Turner. Now, obviously, I appreciate the irony.
9. Jane Fonda
Lately, the Great One's daughter, Paulina Gretzky, has been turning the sports blogosphere upside down with all those sexy twitpics. But the apple doesn't fall far from the tree, which is to say that back in the day Paulina's mom was pretty attractive herself. Janet Jones Gretzky never quite made it as a big-name actress, but she did have one hell of a workout tape called "The Firm."
8. Janet Jones Gretzky
Cindy Crawford is one of the most naturally beautiful women of all time. So it was almost cruel for her to do a workout video, because no matter how hard women work out, they've got no chance of looking like her.
7. Cindy Crawford
Don't know who Julianne Hough is? Yeah, I didn't either. Turns out she's one of the pros on Dancing with the Stars and is dating Ryan Seacrest. Also, she has this excellent ballroom workout video. I think I'm going to try it.
6. Julianne Hough
What Kim Kardashian has, no workout video can possibly provide. (If you aren't already blessed with those curves, you'll need to see a plastic surgeon.) However, that didn't Kanye's new girl from releasing a whole series of workouts.
5. Kim Kardashian
If Heather Locklear was the sex symbol of the 80s, then Claudio Schiffer was the sex symbol of the 90s. Or at least the early 90s, when she was just that super sexy Guess Jeans girl and not the girlfriend of illusionist David Copperfield. In any case, I think we can all agree that having Claudia make a workout video was a great idea.
4. Claudia Schiffer
You have to respect Carmen Electra. The woman does not beat around the bush. Rather than doing a subtly sexy workout video filled with innuendo and suggestive poses, she just comes out and does a stripper workout.
3. Carmen Electra
Baywatch is one of the most popular television programs of all time, a fact which can be almost entirely attributed to its famous opening credits sequence that featured the shows buxom stars running along the beach in slow motion. And to David Hasselhoff. Thankfully, though, the Baywatch Workout Series featured the likes of Gena Lee Nolan and not the Hoff. That would have been weird.
2. Baywatch Workout Series
Now, you've gotta wonder to whom, exactly, this workout video is intended to appeal. I mean, the vast majority of workout videos in general are intended to appeal to the female market. But most of the time, Playboy bunnies tend to appeal more to men than women. I could see a few women thinking to themselves, yeah, I'd like to look like a Playboy Playmate, and buying this video. Still, you'd have to assume that men are much more likely to get excited about this one than women—and yet they're not going to buy it. Because if they're going to buy anything from Playboy, it's going to be actual pornography, not pseudo porn like this.
So in the end, the GND Workout is kind of perplexing. I'm still glad it exists, though.
And anyway, here are two more clips: