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Hollywood has its share of legends, but no star has been able to keep surprising us the way Jane Fonda has. She has gone from powerful Academy Award–winning film performances in “Klute” and “Coming Home to headline-making political activism, to an exercise video that changed the face of fitness, to best-selling author of a memoir. Her latest achievement: another exercise video, this one on yoga

by Ilyssa Panitz • Celebrity Reporter
jane fonda image
Photograph: Firooz Zahedi

More: Your new exercise video, AM/PM Yoga for Beginners, is being released December 4.  
Jane Fonda: Over the past two and a half years, the six DVDs I put out were targeted at older people, or baby boomers. Everything is designed to be slower and easier so everyone can take part. This time I am focusing on working out with yoga, and I am calling the video Prime Time, which was also the title of my last book.

More: A yoga video? No more bopping around to aerobics?
JF: This yoga video is for people who are not particularly fit and twisting themselves into pretzels. It is also great for people who don’t have a lot of time because the DVD is shot in 10-minute bites.

More: How long have you been doing yoga?
JF: Since 1997.

More: Your first video, Workout: Starring Jane Fonda, debuted in 1982. Some say you were the pioneer in this area of the fitness industry.
JF: Totally. There was no video industry back then. The hardware was there, but it was too expensive, because you needed a lot of women who would say, “Here is a product that I will use over and over again.” After Workout became a craze, the hardware got less expensive.

More: How did an Academy Awardwinning actress become interested in making fitness videos?

JF: I always exercised. However, my main form of exercise for many years was ballet. I had been doing it since I was 20. I knew what moving to music did for my mind and my body and how good it made me feel inside. I turned it into a business because I was looking to raise money for a political organization I was working on. This was all happening during a recession, and I was told not to go into a business you don’t understand. The one thing I understand is exercise, and that is how it all got started.

More: Do you remember making that first video?
JF: I am really proud of that video, yes. There was one camera, no teleprompter. I wrote the script on the floor of a hotel room, and I did my own hair and makeup. When that video took off, it really floored me. Although I was not a clever businesswoman, I did know timing was everything. I never expected this to happen, yet once I started, I couldn’t go back.

More: Not knowing the success that would follow, sounds like you took a risk.
JF: I never thought a whole lot of people would see it, anyway. When they did see it, it didn’t affect my career in a negative way. If anything, this made me realize people see me in three different ways: one is the actor, two is the political activist and three is the exercise guru. People always say to me things along the lines of, “Cat Ballou was my favorite movie” or “You saved me after my mastectomy” or “Remember when we marched together in San Diego in 1972?” Different people, for different reasons, relate to me in different ways. One does not hurt the others.

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