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Decoder Ring is a podcast about cracking cultural mysteries. Every episode, host Willa Paskin takes on a cultural question, object, idea, or habit and speaks with experts, historians, and obsessives to try and figure out where it comes from, what it means, and why it matters.
In part two of our special two-part episode, we return to the 1982 VHS tape that created the at-home video industry: Jane Fonda’s Workout. On this episode, we deconstruct the tape itself, how it was made, and why anyone thought it was a good idea in the first place. Then we’ll explore how it was possible for an extremely polarizing political activist, despised by some for her activism during the Vietnam War, to become America’s premier exercise guru. It’s a story that involves one enterprising home video visionary, dozens of ridiculous celebrity workout tapes, Tricky Dick Nixon, and one very full life.