Joanna Rohrback: Prancercise is a 1980s Approach to Fitness


Fitness and well-being have developed at the essence of American culture along with baseball and hot dogs. There are many fitness programs at our disposal including yoga, Pilates, cross-fit, dance, kick boxing; the list is extensive. When I came across a more obscure form of fitness, I initially thought it was a joke, a parody of sorts. A 1980s fitness development called Prancercise is described as "A springy, rhythmic way of moving forward, similar to a horse's gait and is ideally induced by elation,” according to creator Joanna Rohrback. Before I go into its complexities, check it out for yourself.

Not too difficult right? There are weights one can hook to their ankles or wrists while prancing in a rhythmic dance motion. Although this seems simple enough, there is a book written in 1989 explaining how Prancercise is “the art of physical and spiritual excellence.” The author, Joanna Rohrback states, “To be really fit we need to consider more than just ourselves; we need to also consider the conservation of the environment (as through vegetarianism), and non-violence, through our thought process and behavior.”

Apparently, Prancercise offers access to this frame of thought and well-being. The more I read about this enigmatic exercise, the more I can understand its spiritual and environmental significance. With any fitness program, there are elements of well-being which can be regarded as a spiritual, environmental, or psychological phenomenon.

Based upon the theory that our physicality is interconnected with our psyche, fitness can be transformative for our lives, even with Prancercise. Just because Prancercise hasn’t made its way to the corporate realm or hasn’t normalized itself in society, it can still act as a supportive guide to people’s well-being in a dynamic way. Before you knock it, try it. Who knows? You may discover a form of exercise that inspires and allows for transformative thought. At the very least, it will provide a pleasant, low impact change of pace from the new age workouts.