The 30 Biggest Fitness Gurus of All Time — Top Celebrity Trainers

Richard Simmons & Suzanne Somers

Getty/Harry Langdon

Celebrity fitness gurus first came to prominence in the 1980s thanks to the popularity of straight-to-video home workout programs. Notable names like Jane Fonda and Kathy Smith taught classes from studios, acting as trainers in homes everywhere. Exercise and fitness infomercials also reached peak mania during this time, which turned spokespeople into celebrities themselves.

Since then, workout DVDs and reality TV shows have continued to keep fitness at the forefront of entertainment. Do you remember these 30 names? Between 1980 and 2010, they were some of the most popular celebrity trainers in the country.

1 of 30

1980: Arnold Schwarzenegger

The multi-hyphenate fitness legend came out of retirement in order to compete for the Mr. Olympia title in 1980. At the time, he was also training for a movie role. Despite the hectic schedule, he ended up winning the title and what would be his final championship in the event.

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2 of 30

1981: Olivia Newton-John

Although not originally fitness guru by occupation, her smash single “Physical” was a global sensation. The top-charting song made everybody want to get on their feet, dance, sweat, and get.. well, physical.

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3 of 30

1982: Suzanne Somers

The Three’s Company actress turned into a full-fledged fitness personality thanks to her workout infomercials and ‘Thighmaster’ endorsements. She’s since gone on to author several weight loss, nutrition, and health books, many of which have become bestsellers.

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4 of 30

1983: Gilad Janklowicz

Bodies In Motion, the longest-running fitness show in the United States, first aired in 1983. The Israeli fitness instructor hosted the long-running show, but also created over 30 workout videos and hosted another show called Total Body Sculpt with Gilad.

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5 of 30

1984: Raquel Welch

1984 marked the release of the legendary actress’ Total Beauty and Fitness Program, which quickly became popular. It was particularly groundbreaking due to its emphasis on yoga postures.

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6 of 30

1985: Jake Steinfeld

Steinfeld’s career first took off when stars like Steven Spielberg and Harrison Ford used him as a personal trainer. He then launched the Body By Jake fitness regimen series that catapulted him into fame.

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7 of 30

1986: Jane Fonda

The fitness queen’s Jane Fonda Workout videos have sold over 17 million copies worldwide, the most among any exercise series. She encouraged many Americans to buy their first VCRs in the ’80s so they could follow her aerobics-based workout routines at home.

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8 of 30

1987: Heather Locklear

The actress and model became a fitness guru with her own line of workout videos, titled Personal Training Sessions, where she rocked bright leotards in typical ’80s fashion.

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9 of 30

1988: Kathy Smith

The fitness personality has sold over 16 million workout videos, which reached peak popularity levels in the late ’80s and early ’90s.

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10 of 30

1989: Chuck Norris

The martial arts legend and action star received his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1989, cementing his legacy as a fitness icon, actor, and producer. He also has a black belt in judo and Brazilian jiu jitsu.

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11 of 30

1990: Derrick Evans

The early ’90s fitness icon, better known as Mr. Motivator, was a British sensation thanks to his appearances on the breakfast TV show GMTV, where he performed live, high-energy workout sessions in bright, colorful spandex.

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12 of 30

1991: Cher

The legendary singer and actress entered the fitness realm with the release of her 1991 book Cher Forever Fit, which featured workout tips, nutrition advice, and her favorite skincare-products.

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13 of 30

1992: Denise Austin

With over 20 million exercise videos sold, “America’s Fitness Sweetheart” is considered one of the top fitness celebrities of the ’90s. She’s also authored 10 fitness books and centers her workout regimen around yoga, pilates, and aerobic exercises.

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14 of 30

1993: Fabio

The Italian/American model, whose face was plastered across romance novel covers all over the world, delved into the fitness realm in 1993 with his self-titled Fabio Fitness workout video.

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15 of 30

1994: Susan Powter

The motivational speaker, nutritionist, and personal trainer reached the height of fame in 1994 when she first hosted her own talk show, The Susan Powter Show, in which she discussed topics like nutrition and fitness with her guests. She was also known the catchphrase “stop the insanity!” which was a highlight of her weight loss infomercial.

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16 of 30

1995: Tony Little

With numerous ’90s fitness infomercials, the self-proclaimed “America’s Fitness Guru” became known for his ponytail, booming voice, and endorsement of several fitness products, most notably the Gazelle Elliptical Glider.

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17 of 30

1996: Richard Simmons

The beloved ’90s fitness guru was known for his contagious energy and flamboyant personality that both helped America actually enjoy working out. His Sweatin’ To The Oldies videos brought an aerobics craze to the masses thanks to his energy and the upbeat soundtracks.

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18 of 30

1997: Don Saladino

For over 20 years, Saladino has coached actors, athletes, musicians, and other celebrity clients like Hugh Jackman, Liev Schreiber, and Ryan Reynolds. This fitness guru is one of the most in-demand personal trainers for the famous and wealthy.

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19 of 30

1998: Billy Blanks

The Tae Bo workout creator (a combination of Tae Kwon Do and Boxing) reportedly sold more than 1.5 million videos of his workout classes between 1998-1999 before launching Billy’s Boot Camp.

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20 of 30

2000: Bob Harper

The TV personality and personal trainer, known for his role in The Biggest Loser, has been open about his sexuality, dieting habits, and heart attack health scare.

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21 of 30

2001: Shaun T

Known for his high-intensity and energetic home workout videos like Hip-Hop Abs and Insanity, Shaun T made many TV appearances on programs like the Oprah Winfrey Show, The Dr. Oz Show and the Tyra Banks Show.

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22 of 30

2002: Jillian Michaels

In 2002, Michaels opened the sports medicine facility Sky Sport & Spa in Beverly Hills before making her TV debut on the hit NBC show The Biggest Loser. She became known for her tough coaching style that helped contestants get whipped into shape. Since then, she’s released several workout DVDs and authored several fitness books.

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23 of 30

2003: Tony Horton

The fitness coach and instructor entered the crowded home workout space with P90x in 2003, through a series of informercials that promised dramatic before and after results after 90 days of completing the program.

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24 of 30

2004: Harley Pasternak

This bonafide celebrity trainer, author, motivational speaker, and TV personality made headlines in 2004 when Halle Berry revealed he trained her for the movie Catwoman. That admission landed him a guest appearance on Oprah and eventually a book deal.

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25 of 30

2005: Gunnar Peterson

One of the most sought-after personal trainers, the guy who counts the Kardashians as clients released his first book in 2005, which delves into the secrets of Hollywood personal training.

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26 of 30

2006: Tracy Anderson

The fitness mogul, known for monthly services and the Tracy Anderson Method, had her big break in 2006 when Gwyneth Paltrow visited her LA studio and dropped a significant amount weight. Paltrow then told Madonna about Anderson and from there, she gained even more popularity.

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27 of 30

2007: Jackie Warner

Warner is an American fitness trainer best known for appearing in the Bravo network’s reality series Work Out, which chronicled her life as she attempted to manage her day-to-day business as well as her relationships.

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28 of 30

2008: Justin Gelband

The trainer to the Victoria’s Secret Angels, this fitness instructor is responsible for helping these ladies get into the best shape of their lives for strutting down the runway.

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29 of 30

2009: David Kirsch

The celebrity trainer, known to many as “the butt guy,” is responsible for helping stars like Jennifer Lopez and Kate Upton achieve a fabulous rear. He is also the founder of Madison Square Club in New York City and also authored the Butt Book in 2009.

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30 of 30

2010: Mary Helen Bowers

Bowers’ Ballet Beautiful empire, consisting of merchandise and videos, counts celebrities such as Zooey Deschanel and Liv Tyler as clients. In 2010, Black Swan came out, where Bowers instructed Natalie Portman on ballet techniques for the film.

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