Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Minifigure Week! Day 3: Fitness Instructor (series 5, 2011)

Minifigures are one of my favourite things about Lego – and series 12 is on the way (possibly even out in your country by the time you read this). So to celebrate this upcoming release, every day this week, we’ll be looking at a different minifigure from the series that have come before. This is by no means a comprehensive overview – nor even necessarily a look at my favourites – but it’s an example of some of the unusual figures the line has produced since it debuted back in 2010.  Today we look at the Fitness Instructor from Series 5, all the way back in 2011.
Don’t fall down now! We’re just getting warmed up!

The Fitness Instructor has devoted herself to one thing and one thing only: getting people in great shape! With the help of a boom-box full of energetic workout tunes and a wall full of degrees in aerobics, yoga and more, she leads fitness sessions and promotes good health wherever she goes.
With her endless energy and enthusiasm, the Fitness Instructor makes exercise look like so much fun that you just can’t resist joining in. But if you do, be prepared for the workout of a lifetime, because she’ll keep going and going long after everybody else is ready to drop from exhaustion!
-- biography

The 1980s. An era that gave us Reaganomics, some of the best music the world has ever seen, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, RoboCop – and Jane Fonda’s workout tapes.
Pic from
I’m sure I’m generalising a bit here, but it seems that in the late 1970s and early 1980s gyms were largely for Arnie-esque muscle men, and women didn’t really have anywhere they could go to work out. But the release of Jane Fonda’s workout tapes changed all that, helping innovate the “home exercise” movement, alongside other pioneers like Richard Simmons. As far as I can tell, this isn't such a big thing these days, but it was HUGE in the 1980s and 1990s. You couldn't turn on the TV without seeing an ad for some new piece of exercise equipment or VHS that would "strip the fat away", "get those abs toned" or "give you magical powers" (advertising laws weren't as strict back then, and we didn't have the internet to fact check). There was even a TV show called Aerobics Oz Style that ran for YEARS on Channel Ten over here, and I'm sure most readers had their own local equivalents too.   
How does this relate to today’s review? Well, any of the more 1980s-savvy you will probably have clicked by now -- though the Gym Instructor isn’t specifically Jane Fonda, I think it’s a fairly safe bet to say she was the central inspiration. And of course, one can only assume that Olivia Newton-John’s Physical music video (hilarious but borderline NSFW) had a role to play too.
Released in 2011 as part of series 5, the Gym Instructor is a bit of an oddity in a Lego theme that has produced a lot of unusual figures. She doesn’t really fit with any of the other characters – maybe the Weightlifter from series 2 – or any other Lego sets that I’ve ever seen. Maybe you could slot her in with some of the really pink and girly sets from the 1990s, but I think she'd look like an anachronism there too.  
The slightly bouffant hair, pink patterned leotard, lime headband, lime belt, lime legwarmers and bright blue tights are all 1980s gold. It doesn't seem to be specifically based on a particular costume, but this one looks about right. 
She comes with one accessory – a lavender boom box – which boosts the whole thing from “pretty cool” to absolute winner.  The main thing that could really improve the whole ensemble is a Richard Simmons analogue to make a truly 80s-tastic display. Or at least an out-of-shape student or two. 
I’m a big fan of this minifigure. She’s very 1980s and very tacky, which tends to be a winning combo in my book. I've been watching The Goldbergs a lot lately, which has only increased my appreciation, and which I highly recommend to any fellow 80s-philes out there.  
Also, I decided to include her because I remember how disappointed my friend Boon (of TheBoonArmies fame) was when he bought something like four Minifigure blind bags and got her in about three of them. I wouldn’t have been thrilled myself, but I do remember it annoying him a whole lot, and I hoped to rekindle some of that irritation :)

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