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Famous Fitness Fads

Jog your memory: Celebrities and fitness gurus who made exercise fun

Billy Blanks

— Jun Sato/WireImage

BILLY BLANKS

You probably know the 55-year-old Blanks even if you’ve never watched a second of any of his videos.

Infomercials for his successful Tae Bo fitness videos flooded the late-night airwaves during the ’90s. Blanks was a fledgling actor who landed roles in some early-’80s action movie duds before he dreamed up his Tae Bo workout, which combined elements of tae kwan do and boxing training. His Los Angeles–area gym opened in the early ’90s and, after he drew in celebrity clients like Paula Abdul and Shaquille O’Neal, a fitness fad was born. Blanks, who was elected to the Martial Arts History Museum Hall of Fame in 2003, continues to produce new fitness videos (and infomercials — watch for him next time you’re battling insomnia), though he'll likely always be most closely associated with the Tae Bo craze.

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