How many workouts have you done in your life?

I was thinking about that this morning and I’m deep into the five figures. That’s a lot of workouts – and a LOT of different kinds of workouts too, as I’ve ridden the waves of fitness trends over the years.

And as bad as the hair or the outfits were back in the day, I have a soft spot for some of my old workouts. How about you?

Like, I’d like to go out to lunch with them if I could and see how they are doing. We spent a lot of time together – hours and hours, in fact, sweaty and intense. It’d be fun to catch up.

Maybe these wistful memories are coming up now because my first “real” workouts were done in the middle of winter, and here we are, in February.

And maybe also, they taught me some things about myself. Because the truth is, I wasn’t one of those naturally athletic kids growing up. At least I didn’t think I was one of them, but now, looking back, I am pretty sure I could have held my own.

In fact, I got out of gym class for nearly my entire school career, and always joked that I preferred mental gymnastics to the physical kind. 

The Birth of a Fitness Nut

But then in my late teens, a bunch of things happened to make me rethink my “exercise is for losers” philosophy.

First, I gave up being a borderline juvenile delinquent. Then, my dad had a series of heart attacks while in his early 40s, and required serious then-experimental surgery.

That led me to quit smoking.

But after all that, I suffered some pretty crippling anxiety.

And ultimately, it was the anxiety that caused me to get into fitness. That’s because every time I’d have an anxiety attack, my heart would race and feel like it was going to explode.

I figured if it I could make it healthy and strong, it would be less apt to quit on me.

Logical, right? I thought so. Funny enough, it sort of worked.

Vintage Fitness Trends

Jane Fonda’s Workout Book – where it all began.

Anyway, the fitness quest started with a stationary bike in the basement, and then progressed to the original Jane Fonda workout book and album. Yes, there was an actual follow-along record album.

But I really liked the bike. I remember my first endorphin high, when one afternoon I decided to just keep riding the stationary bike for an entire 45 minutes.

It felt great. So every day after that, I put in my 45 minutes, no matter what.

Sometimes we get so fixated on “results” and what’s the supposed “right” way to do things that we forget that movement for its own sake is fun.

Because it really is. This month I’m working on (re)mastering some old fitness tricks and even though they’re not part of an official workout, I’m having fun.

Home Workout Videos

And speaking of fun, how fun – and funny – are some of these old fitness videos?

Back when I first started working out I did a ton of exercise videos. Some of them I did over and over again till I had to buy a second copy. They’re sort of old friends, you know?

Funny, weird, tragically dressed old friends.

Jane Fonda’s Low Impact Workout

This was my first all-time favorite workout. I couldn’t find a good clip of it – I think Jane’s production company is pretty good at policing videos online.

But trust me, it was awesome. There was even a guy who impersonated a chicken halfway through.

I also had her Lean Routine workout – also good. It was when “experts” started learning about the importance of interval training. And check out how edgy it was! (heh).

The Firm, Vol 1 (and beyond)

The “original” Firm videos – before they were bought out by infomercial fitness companies and dumbed-down – were awesome. I remember ordering the original Firm Vol. 1 after seeing it advertised in Shape magazine.

It cost $84, which (yes I looked this up!) is the equivalent of $181 with current inflation. Holy cow! 

Seriously, watch the video below for why Susan Harris became something of a cult favorite among video instructors. If I could find the full version of this video I’d probably give it a go.

Step Reebok: The Video

I did the original Step Reebok video hundreds of times. Pretty sure I could do it from memory. And I still love its corny intensity – they called it “The Toughest Workout on Earth.” 

Set to live drumming!  Hmmmm…. thinking of trying it now. Also thinking of channeling instructor Gin Miller’s no-ponytail look.

Cathe Friedrich PowerMax

I used to do this one in the little “living area” of our townhouse in Springfield, Va. It definitely kicks things up several notches from the original Reebok step workout.

Cathe is an awesome instructor … it’s hard to pick a fave, but this was a go-to so it won.

But how about those “party arms”?

Kathy Smith New Yoga (now Yoga Sculpt)

This video was a favorite to do when I got home from a long day of work, when I was city editor at a daily newspaper.

It was the first time I ever tried yoga – and I loved it. (But I didn’t feel like it was a “real” workout, so I usually ended up doing the Step Reebok workout before.)

Seriously, though: so serious. Seriously serious yoga, seriously.

Fresh, New, Fun Workouts

What’s your idea of a “fun” workout? What do you do to keep your workouts fresh and interesting?

As I mentioned above, I’m mixing in different kinds of workouts and techniques this month to reignite the fun factor. I’m doing some moves I learned when I was training for a fitness show, some barre workouts, lifting, and some HIIT. (and srsly, I’m thinking of trying out the Step Reebok workout again …. just for old times sake).

But I’d love to know what you’re up to! (And have you done any of the workouts above? Or do you have any corny old faves of your own?)