I’m sure by now most of us have a few goals that we would like to accomplish in the New Year and beyond. Most common among those goals is probably to lose a few pounds, eat better, exercise more, quit smoking, etc. Basically the idea is that many of us want to get healthy and fit and most of us have been inspired by someone or something to do so. In honor of a New Year and a new desire to be fit, here are 10 of the biggest fitness influences/inspirations that took us this far.
– Who better to inspire the masses to get fit than a man who does not simply do push ups but pushes the earth down? Of course I am talking about none other than the legend, Mr. Carlos Ray aka Chuck Norris. From his late 1960’s role alongside Bruce Lee in “Return of the Dragon”, to his competitive martial arts career, to his awesomely over the top 80’s action movies, Norris has inspired millions to get into fighting shape. And for the past 15 years he’s got insomniacs all over the world into exercise with his late night “Total Gym” infomercials. Chuck has influenced fitness in a major way for over 40 years!
– Coinciding with the emergence of a TV channel entirely devoted to music, pop legend Madonna has used the platform as good as anyone for the past 30 years to make herself a household name. And whether she’s known it or not, the now 55 year old singer has inspired millions to look good and be fit. As she reinvented her image time and time again, one thing that remained constant was her incredibly fit body. With a good portion of that body always on display, some would say even too much, Madonna has shown fans year after year that your body is your temple and it should be kept in top form.
– Forgetting about his current image and legal woes for a moment, Lance Armstrong is one of the biggest fitness influences of the past 20 years. Up until recently, the man had inspired people to persevere, to overcome, and to be healthy in a major way with his athletic excellence and incredible story. When Armstrong came back from cancer in 1999 and went on to become the best cyclist in history up until that point, he made people realize that there is no excuse for not exercising. His website, charity work, and foundation also were huge fitness influences to millions of people over the years.
– Super talented singer, dancer, and sex symbol Janet Jackson literally grew up in front of America’s eyes. She was always a supreme talent, but as Jackson got older and began to come into her own as a women, she emerged as a super hottie and tremendous fitness icon. As fans watched Janet go from a somewhat chubby teen, to an adult, and then go on to amaze us with her athletic prowess in the form of dance, Janet has probably inspired more sit ups than anyone. With that amazing midriff and incredible dancing in her music videos, many people listened when Jackson yelled “Come on, get up!”
– The inventor of quite possibly the most successful and popular exercise routine of the past decade, fitness trainer Tony Horton has been pushing health and fitness for close to 30 years. Aside from his many appearances on popular TV shows, and his personal training of many of the top celebrities out there, Tony Horton made his most significant contribution to fitness with the incredibly popular and effective P90X home fitness program. Horton made a gym membership virtually obsolete and with his own great body and enthusiasm he inspired over 4 million people to get in shape with his workout DVDs.
– Hollywood’s resident fitness expert Jillian Michaels has been using her expertise to help people get fit on a massive scale for most of the past 10 years. As a trainer on the hugely popular weight loss TV show, “The Biggest Loser” for 12 seasons, Michaels has reached an audience that could conceivably reach 1 billion people when all is said and done! Michaels used the show to launch an empire of fitness books, videos, equipment, TV shows, and supplements and is not slowing down any time soon, recently partnering with women’s gym franchise “Curves” to revamp and attract more members to the brand.
– It would be difficult to overstate just how many people have been inspired to lift weights, take up martial arts, or get fit by watching Jean-Claude Van Damme movies. Van Damme, or JCVD, has done a lot in his life to be fit and certainly had/has the body to show for it. From bodybuilding, to weightlifting, to ballet, to his late 1980’s and 90’s action movies, JCVD is a guy that made so many of us want to be ripped like him. And his real life skills and experience meant that the impressive spinning kicks and huge biceps we saw in the movies might actually be attainable in real life.
– Few sports in the world have grown at a more rapid pace than the exciting sport of mixed martial arts. A sport whose participants are a model of strength, fitness, and athleticism, MMA has been inspiring the guys to look good (and fight better) since the late 90’s. In 2007 an athlete came along that brought the women into the fold and blazed a trail that would inspire many more women to follow her lead. Gina Carano, a beautiful, sexy, talented, and athletic woman brought women’s MMA into the mainstream and showed the female masses that they could get fit, kick butt, and still be feminine.
– I would venture to guess that no movie has inspired more people to be fit than Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky movies of the 1970’s, 80’s, 90’s, and 2000’s. Every single element of these movies makes people want to get up to start running stairs and do 1 arm push ups. The fully inspiring theme music, the intense training montages, the underdog story line, the Rocky franchise had everything it needed to get people inspired. Stallone sported a terrific physique throughout his career; even today at 67 years old he walks the walk, still making people want to be active through his films.
– Undoubtedly the most influential person in the health and fitness field over the past 40 or so years is the Governator himself, Arnold Schwarzenegger. Each step of the way throughout his career Arnold has provided some form of inspiration for people all over the world to be fit. His extremely successful bodybuilding career in which he won the Mr. Olympia title 7 times, his iconic movie career that showcased his muscular physique and athletic ability, and all the promoting of fitness he has done throughout, makes Arnold the absolute biggest influence for a healthy lifestyle for many, MANY years.