Burn Baby Burn!


At 72, aerobics queen Jane Fonda is back in the fitness business

Break out the Spandex and dig out your leg-warmers, Jane Fonda and her exercise videos (well, DVDs this time) are back, and this time she wants boomers and older to feel the burn.

Her 1982 aerobics video, Jane Fonda’s Workout, sold more than 17 million copies and is credited with starting not only the aerobics craze but a home fitness boom, and put “feel the burn” in common usage. Her first video spawned a small empire for Fonda: she released her last workout video in 1995 and has brought out 23 in total in addition to five workout books and 13 audio programs.

Now the 72-year old actress, activist and former fitness queen says it’s time to head back to the dance studio to create exercise DVDs for a target audience she says has been left out: “My age group and the boomers. I want to get to people who have stopped working out, or never did,” Fonda told reporters.

Fonda begins filming in March, and the DVD is slated for release in 2011 by Lionsgate. This time she’s seeking input from her fans – mostly on what she should wear. On her Janefonda.com blog, she wrote: “What should I wear? Curious to hear from you about this. These folks I’m working with can do these productions with their eyes closed. I have to laugh when I think of when I did the first ever…still the biggest selling video of all time. We had no budget, no hair stylist or makeup artists. We did it all ourselves. I wrote the script on a ski trip in Calgary on the floor of my hotel room.”

Part of her impetus, and what may give her common ground with her target audience, are her own health issues. The Oscar-winning actress suffers from osteoarthritis, a hereditary from of arthritis which leads to the gradual disappearance of joint cartilage, and required surgery on her left knee in 2009 forcing her to use a wheelchair for a short time. In addition she had a titanium hip replacement in 2005 and has suffered years of painful back problems.

Though her bouncing, hard-hitting form of aerobics has been denounced by some personal trainers as too hard on the body, Fonda has insisted her joint problems are a matter of genetics, not the result of strenuous exercise.

Her blog is vague on details of what sort of workout she’ll be proposing to boomers+. However, according to Gary Edwards, a level 4 personal trainer based in Toronto, for an aging demographic “the exercises should be low intensity, with high repetitions and should not consist of many sets. Ideally, there should be some work with weights to help maintain muscle tone. I generally suggest low-impact training for people over 70 because it helps reduce the risk of injury.”

He adds: “As long as participants are able to do the exercises properly with good form and they don’t put themselves in any kind of risk of injury- any kind of movement is good movement.”

Personal trainer Ronaldo Isla is a proponent of weight training to help stave off osteoporosis. “Osteoporosis is inevitable, but the process can be slowed down [with the help of weight training],” he said, explaining that weight training will increase bone density by stimulating growth of bone cells. Like Edwards, though, he highly recommends at least a session or two with a trainer to ensure any exercise is performed properly, reducing the risk of injury.

Whatever Fonda finally comes up with for her newest venture into fitness, she says sports and healthy living is at least 30% responsible for why she looks so good. The rest? “I owe 30 per cent to genes, 30 per cent to good sex, 30 per cent because of sports and healthy lifestyle and for the remaining 10 per cent, I have to thank my plastic surgeon.”

photo credit: KEYSTONE PRESS