After A Year Of At-Home Workouts, These Vintage Jazzercise Videos Are Giving Me Life

May 3, 2021

Jane Fonda workout record

With more people working out at home now than ever before, workout videos have become the bread and butter of at-home fitness.

From Chloe Ting to Blogilates, the reach of fitness celebrities seemed to have skyrocketed in the past twelve months. And yet, despite the wide variety of online personal trainers and YouTube videos, it’s easy to get stuck in a rut watching the same online trainers and doing the same repetitive types of exercise. 

After twelve months of mixing running in with Blogilates videos, I decided it was time to shake up my routine. I scoured the Internet for something that would excite me, but couldn’t find anything that felt quite right. 

Lacking the coordination needed for Zumba, the equipment needed for weight lifting, and the patience needed for yoga, I finally stumbled upon a niche exercise genre that’s reignited my workout routine, and it’s not the modern-day Kim K booty blaster workout you’d expect. 

Peppy, hysterical, and endearingly 80s, YouTube’s small yet powerful presence of Jazzercise videos are absolutely everything. Rounding up some of my top five faves from the kings and queens of Jazzercise, may this be the call you needed to shake up your routine. 

  1. For Lowest Impact: Richard Simmons

Level of Difficulty: 3/10

For those who don’t know, Richard Simmons was the fitness instructor of his time with his most popular fitness tape, Sweatin’ to the Oldies, which sold more than 25 million copies. His body positive workout routines revolved around creating workouts that were accessible for people of any body size and fitness level. 

This video is a great start for beginners looking for low-impact workouts. The steps were simple and easy to follow, and Richard Simmons’ vibrant personality carried me through every step of the way. For an extra workout, I added some light hand weights as I went through the motions for some added resistance.   

2. For Legs on Fire: Kathy Smith  

Level of Difficulty: 7/10

Reminiscent of the modern-day Zumba, this Kathy Smith video workout will get your heart rate thumping and your body jumping with this cardio-heavy routine. 

Perfect for an indoor cardio blast on a rainy day, Kathy Smith pushes your body to the limits with fast-paced jumping, kicking, and twisting. The following glute and thigh portion left my thighs on fire through tiny, subtle movements. Overall, this workout tested my limits and left me feeling the good kind of sore for the next several days. 

3. For Infinite Fun: Judi Sheppard-Missett

Level of Difficulty: 5/10


Judi Sheppard-Missett is the original founder of Jazzercise and the reason I got into Jazzercising in the first place.

Besides being the most enthusiastic and energetic person you’ll ever see or meet, Judi Sheppard-Missett is also all about the belief that exercise should be fun and enjoyable—a belief that is evident in her workout routines. 

The video routines themselves are light and low-impact, but don’t let that fool you. What they lack in intense cardio they make up for in heightened coordination and tons of fun. I found myself breaking quite a sweat during Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy in particular, and couldn’t stop smiling the whole time thanks to Judi Sheppard-Missett’s relentless support and encouragement. 

4. For a Cardio Blast: Denise Austin 

Level of Difficulty: 7/10


Denise Austin’s bright neon color scheme, leotards, and crimped hair should make this video a must-watch for the 80s nostalgia alone. 

It just so happens that, in addition to offering a rainbow-colored 80s panorama, Austin also provides a fun yet intense one-hour cardio workout leaving your abs, legs, and heart throbbing. 

Similar to Kathy Smith, Denise Austin’s video involves non-stop jumping and staying on your toes. Her floor exercises are reminiscent of floor pilates work for those familiar with that type of exercise, and will leave you with a satisfying burn. 

5. For You Morning Workout: Jane Fonda

Level of Difficulty: 3/10

Follow along to award-winning actress, Jane Fonda, as she lunges, twists, and kicks her way through this low-impact Jazzercise routine. 

As a huge Jane Fonda fan, listening to the Grace and Frankie co-star offer words of encouragement and the occasional “woo!” kept me going strong the whole time. To make this 30-minute workout a bit more difficult, I’d recommend adding some weights for extra resistance. 

With both upper and lower body exercise moves, this workout is great for a quick morning pick-me-up to start the day off right.


Jazzercise YouTube videos are the perfect way to shake up your exercise routine and add a skip in your step. Give these videos a try and let us know about your favorite video! 

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Photo: Jacob Whittaker via Flickr

Dana Drosdick
Dana is a marketer living in Saratoga Springs, NY with a passion for all things related to stewardship, faith, wellness, and personal enrichment. Her work has been featured in various Chicken Soup for the Soul anthologies, The Odyssey Online, and The Banner Magazine. Follow her at @danadrosdick on Instagram for foodie trends, her latest book recommendations, and far too many photos of clementines.


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