Throughout her life, Jane Fonda has reinvented herself, emerging into the world as the daughter of Academy Award-winning actor Henry Fonda, rising into her own career as an actress, generating controversy as an activist and eventually evolving into a philanthropist.
One of the things for which Fonda is most famous is her role as a celebrity fitness guru of the 1980s, entering a fledgling field that since has been inherited by fitness experts, including Denise Austin, and more recently, Jillian Michaels. Fonda since then produced and starred in more than 20 fitness videos between 1982 and 1995.The amazing thing at the time was that Fonda entered that phase of her career when she was 45 years old. At 73, she’s revisiting that era of her life, updating the program she developed for the middle-aged for those same fans.
“I felt like no one was marketing to the over-50 set,” the author of Prime Time: Making the Most of Your Life recently told the L.A. Times’ Stacie Stukin. “I thought, who better than me to do it? I’m old, I have a new hip, a new knee and I have credibility in the fitness arena.”
Her new Jane Fonda “Prime Time” video series, which includes Fit and Strong and Walk Out, shows senior exercisers how they can still “feel the burn” so they can ward off heart disease, diabetes and other ills of aging by keeping in shape.
Fonda, who had studied ballet, entered the fitness field after she fractured her foot while filming The China Syndrome. Wanting to remain fit and healthy, she sought another way to stay in shape.
Under the direction of Leni Cazden, the two-time Oscar winner started aerobics and strength training exercises. Cazden’s workout became Jane Fonda’s Workout, which eventually sold 17 million copies, more than any other home video.
The breast cancer survivor’s career as a fitness guru also led to her career as an author, starting with the best-selling Jane Fonda’s Workout Book. In 2005, Random House published her autobiography My Life So Far.
Though Fonda, who has had a hip replacement in 2005 and a knee replacement in 2009, may have ditched the head band and leg warmers, she continues to emphasize the importance of exercise as we age. She credits staying active with keeping her physically and mentally fit and emphasizes that exercise is the way to prolong well-being and quality of life.
Reporters have remarked how Fonda often lists the litany of physical ailments and their results, including heart disease, effects on mood and loss of bone mass. A regular exercise regimen at any age can help reduce the risks for these and other conditions, such as high blood pressure, abdominal aortic aneurysm and formation of blood clots.
“The good news is that, even if you never have been active before, you can start all this in your third act,“ she told Stukin.
Colin Milner, chief executive of the International Council on Active Aging, has noted that seniors using Fonda’s DVD may need to devise some adjustments on their own because it does not provide alternative moves for people with physical limitations.