Jane Fonda sparked NFL Hall of Famer Michael Strahan’s life of fitness

When Michael Strahan was a boy, his brothers teased him about his weight. To the rescue: Jane Fonda workout videos.
When Michael Strahan was a boy, his brothers teased him about his weight. To the rescue: Jane Fonda workout videos.
(Disney-ABC Domestic TV)

At 6 feet, 5 inches, Michael Strahan — the co-host of “Live With Kelly and Michael” and “Good Morning America” and a 2014 inductee into the Pro Football Hall of Fame — defies pigeonholing. Strahan, 42, began exercising three decades ago after his older brothers teased him about his weight. His surprising workout? Jane Fonda’s videos. “I’m comfortable with my manhood to admit that I used Jane Fonda tapes when I was a kid,” he says with a chuckle.

In 2012, his on-air audition for Kelly Ripa’s talk show included a playful homage to the movie “Magic Mike.” Strahan’s athletic dance moves so impressed the movie’s star, Channing Tatum, that Strahan will act in the sequel, “Magic Mike XXL,” out next summer. To prepare, Strahan says, he is “working out a lot harder with heavier weights to build muscles that have to break down when it’s time to shoot.”

What role did Jane Fonda play in first getting you in shape?

When I was 13, I had the original bubble butt. My brothers called me “Bob,” for “booty on back.” Using Jane Fonda’s workout tapes, I did enough leg lifts to literally work my butt off. That’s when I became conscious of the importance of working out and trying to improve my health.


Weekdays, you co-host “Live” and “Good Morning America” in New York. On Sundays (from September until the Super Bowl), you are an analyst on “Fox NFL Sunday” in Los Angeles. How does that work?

I am a resident of L.A. and own a home here. After “Live” on Friday, I grab my stuff, go to the airport and fly to L.A. Saturdays are my one day off to have fun and relax. In the morning, I either play basketball with the fellas, or a friend and I drive our Morgan 3 Wheelers into the mountains of Malibu. In my home gym, I work out for an hour and, before bed, get a two-hour Swedish massage. At 5:30 a.m. on Sunday, I’m in the L.A. studio. Late Sunday, I fly back to New York. ... There, I read notes for Monday’s “Live,” catch some sleep, then head to the studio.

Since leaving pro football, how do you manage your weight?

Early in my career I was 285 pounds and ate anything I could get my hands on. Not anymore. I try to find little things that will have a big effect on my diet and help stave off health issues. I gave up sodas and lost 5 pounds. Now I drink lots of water. For almost a year I have been taking Metamucil powder three times a day. The fiber fills me up and helps lower cholesterol and steady blood sugar levels — something my parents fight. My trainer, Latreal Mitchell, also does my nutrition. She cooks for me so I have the energy to stay focused all day. Eighty percent of the time I eat clean. But I still like, and occasionally eat, ice cream and cookies. With Latreal’s guidance, I mostly choose fresh foods.

How do your 9-year-old twins, Isabella and Sophia, stay fit?

They are active kids. When they are with their mother, they live on a farm and do chores. They care for three horses, two dogs and nine cats. They also rescue dogs. At school, they run track. When they’re with me, they swim, do push-ups and jumping jacks. I don’t let them lift weights. They run after me through a [makeshift obstacle course] like two ducklings following the daddy duck. I love watching them. It reminds me of working out with my dad.

How does daily exercise make you feel?

Great! The body’s meant to be active. When I’m tired, exercise gives me energy. I feel better now than when I was 20. Instead of embracing getting older, many people use age to limit themselves. I have friends with parents in their 80s or 90s. They move fine. They drive. They’re on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Each is active — physically and mentally. I hope I can maintain that.