Jane Fonda's latest video, 'AM/PM Yoga for Beginners,' goes on sale Tuesday.(Photo: Lionsgate)
Forget about having to do headstands or twists that could jam a disk in your neck or tear a ligament in your shoulder or hip.
Fonda hopes to breathe new life into yoga, a form of exercise that has
come under fire the past couple of years for injuries associated with
torturous poses. Her new DVD, Prime Time AM/PM Yoga for Beginners,
is out Tuesday. She is targeting people like herself, she says, who
feel age creeping up on them, and also younger people who are out of
shape. Meet a gentle Jane.
"I used to be all about going for the
pain,'' says Fonda, who has produced more than 20 fitness videos. She
started out doing hard-core aerobic workouts in the early 1980s.
anymore. I'm not asking them to do anything too hard. I do them with
older people in mind. I want it to be fun and easy for them, but
There are five segments, the first three devoted to
morning: abdominal and back muscles, light stretches and basic yoga
poses, and strength training with light hand weights. For night, there
are two sections: mobility and relaxation. None is longer than 20
minutes. Several of the exercises - planks, for instance - use a chair
or other prop, making them easier to complete.
are blended with some Pilates,'' she says. "They'll build strong muscles
to protect your joints, build stronger bones and make you limber."
Fonda used to do more strenuous yoga "two hours a day. But those days are long gone. It got to be too hard."
She turns 75 on Dec. 21, "and I'm trying to own it,'' she says.
says she has osteoarthritis, a disease that affects 27 million
Americans and causes cartilage, the cushion between joints, to break
down. She has had a knee and hip replacement. She also is recovering
from back surgery in March.
Laughing, she says she'll probably
have to have the other knee and hip replaced "if I live long enough.
I'll have more titanium added to this body. "
But she doesn't dwell on the downside. Yoga "makes me feel happy, alive and healthy."
can be about "undoing'' damage, says Carol Krucoff, a yoga therapist at
Duke Integrative Medicine at Duke University in Durham, N.C. Krucoff
started doing yoga 30 years ago when she suffered from chronic neck
Yoga poses help stretch tight muscles and strengthen weak
ones, cultivating flexibility, stability and ease of movement, she
"People in their 70s and 80s might still have the
misperception that they should stop moving to save their joints when
they get arthritis,'' says Krucoff, author of Healing Yoga for Neck and Shoulder Pain.
Doing gentle yoga "is essential to saving joints,'' she says, "and it breaks the cycle of pain."
begins all five segments slowly, and her coaching throughout the video
is marked by comments such as, "Be gentle'' and "Go only as far as you
can." In several sessions, one of the women practicing with Fonda
stretches midway and holds the position to illustrate.
get the idea that Fonda has gone soft. The form-fitting outfits she
wears in the DVD reveal an incredibly well-toned, strong and capable
body. "I'm well aware of how 75 can look," she says.
But she proves that it can look awesome. She has kept important muscle groups strong, especially the quadriceps.
single time I go to get out of a car now, I say 'Thank you, Lord, I
have strong quads,' '' she says. "Because if I didn't have strong quads,
I couldn't be independent. You have to keep your back and legs strong
so you can remain free and independent."