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Kathy Smith is sweating—serious, for-real, totally awesome, let's-take-a-meeting, Beverly Hills sweat. Perspiration is running off her gloriously chiseled face, down her elegant neck and onto a skintight leotard that encases, sort of, 130 of the sweetest pounds in Danskinland. Rarely has one woman done so much for saline fluid.
Smith, 32, is working out in the mezzanine of a high-rise office building on Wilshire Boulevard in Beverly Hills, the kingdom of one Bikram Choudhury, who bills himself as—ready for this?—Yogi to the Stars. There are about two dozen men and women stretching and sweating. Choudhury, the founder, president and chief instructor of the Yoga College of India, sits on blue satin cushions at the front of the room and abuses his well-heeled clientele: "You have money! You come to me for pain, you Beverly Heels people! You pay me to hurt you!"
Smith herself is a guru of sorts. She's the creator of two aerobic dance albums, one of which has sold more than 500,000 copies, a fitness book and a video. She has also endorsed a leotard line. That's all we have time for here, other than to say she's one of Chris Evert Lloyd's best friends—and she is fitness in America. Bikram Choudhury, Yogi to the Stars, is fitness in America. So is Bernie Cornfeld, former fugitive financier, late of Investors Overseas, Ltd. and now a chairman of Orthomolecular Nutrition Institute, Inc. He told Forbes magazine that he's on a mission to bring health and fitness to the world. Which invites the question: What's Robert Vesco up to?
Fitness in America is equipment: rowing machines; gravity boots; minitrampolines (called rebounders); indoor Nordic skiing machines; free weights, weights for the hands, ankles, neck, waist, wrist and head; and weights attached to pulleys and cables on dozens of ominous-looking strength-training machines.
Fitness in America is high technology: pulse meters; computerized blood-pressure readouts; a stationary bike called a Lifecycle that flashes info on things like maximum oxygen uptake and that retails for $1,995.
Fitness in America is aerobics. Is it ever. Aerobics in the morning, aerobics in the evening. Aerobics before pregnancy, aerobics during pregnancy, aerobics after pregnancy. Aerobics naked and aerobics during sex and even aerobics with clothes on.
Fitness in America is apparel: sexy leotards, leg warmers, head bands and workout shoes. They come in bright colors. Or maybe you like pastels. You got 'em—not to mention stripes, polka dots and circles. There are form-fitting togs to sweat in from Travolta and Baryshnikov, and a whole line of clothes to sweat in for "the fuller-figured woman" from Debbie Reynolds. How on earth did Jack La Lanne ever build all those muscles wearing just basic black?
Fitness in America is videocassettes: Jane Fonda's Workout and her Workout Challenge; Raquel: The Raquel Welch Total Beauty and Fitness Program; Sandahl Bergman's Body; Thin Thighs in 30 Days; Everyday with Richard Simmons Family Fitness; Yoga Moves with Alan Finger; Marie Osmond: Exercises For Mothers-To-Be; and Shape Up with Arnold [Schwarzenegger] are a few of them. And who can forget Irlene Mandrell weighing in with the song Texercise for fitness freaks of the country-western persuasion.
Fitness in America is home trainers, for example, the relentlessly upbeat Jake Steinfeld, 26, who hauls high-rolling clients like Steven Spielberg, Harrison Ford, Teri Garr and Morgan Fairchild out of bed for personalized workouts. Naturally, Jake bills himself as Trainer to the Stars. Trainer to the No-names is Trish Winner, a 30-year-old Baltimorean who opened a business called Home-Body that sells a 75-minute workout for $35. "I show up at your house, drag you out of bed if I have to, and give you the motivation," says Winner.
Fitness in America is books: bestsellers like Jane Fonda's Workout Book (1.25 million in hardcover and 500,000 in paperback sales for the first nine months of 1984); Victoria Principal's The Body Principal and The Beauty Principal; Linda Evans Beauty & Exercise Book; and Christie Brink-ley's Outdoor Beauty and Fitness Book.