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The Top 20 Fitness Icons

Body of Work: The Top Fitness Icons

We are pumped to share one of our fave stories from Fitness Magazine here on FitSugar!

Bionic and iconic, these game changers have inspired us over the years to perspire and put our best body forward. Take a cue from our 20 favorite masters of motivation as they share their secrets to getting better, fitter, stronger than ever.

The Rock (Hard) Star: Gwen Stefani

Before Gwen Stefani began strutting her stuff as the superfly front woman for the otherwise all-guy band No Doubt in 1995, the role of female lead singer tended more toward being a sexpot than having a six-pack. The blond bombshell, now 42, brought a new athleticism to the stage with a bod she credits to "lifting weights [and] a little boxing."

The Legend: Jane Fonda

She has played many roles — Oscar winner, political activist, billionaire's wife — but for millions of women, Jane Fonda's legacy is all about leg warmers. It was 1982, and fresh off her triumph in On Golden Pond, one of Hollywood's leading ladies, at the age of 44, decided her next act would be as a fitness guru. Workout: Starring Jane Fonda, originally on VHS and Beta, remains the best-selling fitness video of all time, having sold 17 million copies.

"It launched the home fitness video industry and made it okay for women to have muscles," Fonda reflects. Only years after its release did she reveal that the cover photo of her in a striped leotard and those maroon leg warmers, legs scissored skyward, was that of a woman who had embraced exercise as a way to save her­self from bulimia.

In 2010, despite hip and knee replacements, Fonda was back in the studio — wearing yoga pants now — to film her Prime Time DVD series targeted at inspiring older people to move. At 74, Fonda loves hiking up mountains, and she has a body most 30-year-olds would envy. Her secret? "It's one-third good genes and less than one-third diet, and all the rest is working out," she says. When asked what's next, Fonda demurs. "I don't know. And if I did, I wouldn't tell because I wouldn't want someone else to get there first."

Keep reading to learn about other important fitness icons.

The Good Cop: Bob Harper

He is The Biggest Loser's beating heart, a tattooed hunk who helps change lives on TV. In 2004, Bob Harper, then a trainer and Spinning instructor in Los Angeles, answered a casting call for a weight-loss reality show.

"I remember being turned off by the title," he recalls. "I wanted to make sure the show depicted obese Americans in the best possible light." Now in its 13th season, The Biggest Loser is a six-day-a-week commitment, yet Harper still finds time to teach a Saturday group fitness class at Crunch and work on his growing product line, which includes supplements, an interactive website, and his book The Skinny Rules: The Simple, Nonnegotiable Principles to Getting to Thin. (Rule 18: "Go to bed slightly hungry.")

Harper's current fitness crush is CrossFit, the interval workout program that includes a lot of reps and plyometrics. "I've put on more muscle," he says of his new regimen's effect. "I shot the cover for a men's magazine, and when I saw it, I thought, Whoa, that's pretty good for a 46-year-old man!"

The Comeback Kid: Dara Torres

Ronald Reagan was in office when 17-year-old Dara Torres swam in her first Olympics, in Los Angeles in 1984. Four presidents later the California native is still making waves. Now 45, an age when most swimmers have long hung up their Speedos, Torres is trying for a mind-boggling sixth Olympics this year in London. She's already swum the qualifying time in the 50-meter freestyle, the event for which she holds the U.S. record. The oldest woman ever to swim in the Olympic Games, she's attempting to add to her total medal count of 12, including three silvers from the 2008 Beijing games, where she narrowly lost the gold in the 50-meter freestyle to a German swimmer half her age.

Unlike many women on the other side of 40, Torres is happy to reveal her age. Her statuesque physique, with its broad shoulders and egg-carton abs, seems chiseled from marble — if marble had a tan. "I found myself saying 'Age is just a number' so many times that I titled my memoir with that mantra," says Torres, who lives in Florida with her 6-year-old daughter, Tessa Grace, and trains up to six hours a day. "Age is definitely part of who I am, but it certainly doesn't define me."
Read on for the complete list of fit icons.

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