First hit workout video: April 24, 1982

A new video, titled “Jane Fonda’s Workout” is released and no one, particularly its star, thinks it will amount to much.  Fonda had been convinced to create a video version of her best-selling  “Jane Fonda’s Workout Book” by a friend who made home improvement videos.  But she didn’t think many people would buy it. For starters, she didn’t know anyone who owned a video cassette player. And she worried that it would be bad for her acting career.

But Fonda had gone ahead, thinking it might make a little money for a political organization run by her then husband, Tom Hayden.  Fonda had written the script herself while sitting on the floor of a hotel room during a ski vacation.  The shooting had been done with only one camera and Fonda had handled her own hair and makeup.

The workout, set to music, had been based on an aerobic exercise routine Fonda had learned from a Los Angeles fitness instructor and taught to the cast and crew of the movie “The Electric Horseman," when she was filming it in Utah.  Before then, Fonda’s daily  choice of exercise had been ballet, but she switched to aerobics after breaking her foot while filming “The China Syndrome.”

It didn’t take long for the new workout video to hit the mainstream of pop culture, along with two of Fonda’s favorite motivational phrases, “Feel the burn” and “No pain, no gain.” Its popularity was said to spark sales of video cassette players, as women saw the video as great way to exercise in private and on  their own schedules.  Within a few years, more than a million copies of the video were sold.  Ultimately, people bought more than 17 million copies of "Jane Fonda's Workout."

Over the next 13 years, Fonda cranked out 26 more exercise videos.  In recent years, Fonda had hip and knee replacement surgery, but said that it was due to the osteoarthritis that runs in her family, and was not a result of all the exercise pounding her body has taken.

In 2012, at the age of 75, Fonda released her latest exercise DVD.  This one was much kinder and gentler than her original workout video.  It’s built around yoga.

More history slices

First LSD hallucination:  April 16, 1943

The Twinkie invented: April 6, 1930

First artificial heart:  April 4, 1969

First batch of Coca-Cola:  March 29, 1886

Finally, antiseptic surgery: March 16, 1867