Sweating to the Oldies

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Sweating to the Oldies

Richard Simmons became a fitness guru by selling workout videos that featured ordinary folks (not raisins).

Catherine McGann/­Getty Images

­Workout guru Richard Simmons was a formerly overweight kid who lost more than 100 pounds (45 kilograms) and decided to use his success to cheerlead the rest of the country into its skinny jeans. In the mid-1980s, he capitalized on the idea that many big-boned Americans were sick of seeing waiflike models in their exercise videos and were tired of trying to keep up with grueling workout regimens. So Simmons donned his signature tank top and short shorts, surrounded himself with a group of zaftig exercisers and created a program that was both easy to follow and featured songs grandma could dance to. He sweated his way straight to infomercial gold, selling more than 20 million copies of his workout videos [source: Richard Simmons.com].

 

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