Fitness icon Jane Fonda turns 75 today. No matter your age, you can probably picture Fonda in the 1980s, with her legwarmers and leotard, leading women through step aerobics. Turns out she’s still got her fitness fashion on, as Fonda just launched the new DVD, AM/PM Yoga for Beginners.
We spoke to the fitness icon, who exemplifies the motto she probably gave us: fitness is the fountain of youth.
Can you speak to the role fitness played during different decades of your life?
From my teens to when I was forty, I did ballet. That’s where the legwarmers are from. A injury stopped me from dancing, so I took up aerobics.
Yoga always seemed sissy to me; I thought it just wouldn’t work me out enough. Yet there was always a voice that said you should do yoga. The same voice told me to meditate.
I started to practice yoga in my mid-50s. I was married to Ted Turner at the time and I was referred to an Ashtanga teacher who traveled with me. I did Ashtanga every day for four years. Wow! Yoga is not just about stretching! It’s aerobic, you have to be incredibly strong, and, if you are really present in your body, it brings you balance and centeredness.
Did you listen to the voice that told you to meditate?
Yes, and I found meditating very, very hard. I started by doing an 8-day silent Buddhist meditation retreat at a ranch in New Mexico. It was with Joan Halifax; she’s incredible. Just like I started yoga with Ashtanga, I started meditation with a 8-day silent retreat. [laughter]
What yogis have influenced you?
Tara Stiles is my favorite yogi friend. She’s phenomenal. I’ve practiced both Ashtanga and Bikram. In fact, Kareem Abdul Jabar introduced me to a Bikram class that was taught by Bikram. I still do Bikram yoga from time to time but the studio has be clean with a lot of light.
Can you tell me a little bit about the process of making AM/PM Yoga?
I realized there weren’t many fitness DVDs for the Baby Boomer generation. I really wanted it to be safe; something that someone who is out of shape and new to fitness could do. Yoga in 10-minute segments makes it very safe and non-intimidating.
What do you think of the fitness scene now and the current boutique fitness craze?
Anything that encourages physical activity is great. But these classes are not for older people. That’s why I began my new fitness brand. —Alexia Brue