She is a human exclamation point, petite and bubbly and relentlessly upbeat, the unstoppable force who made exercise a fixture on morning TV. "I just want people to know that you can feel better and get energized about yourself," says Denise Austin, the queen of small-screen fitness and Idaho potato pitchwoman. "That's been my mission, and it still is."
Austin, now 55, burst onto the scene in 1981, when she talked Jack LaLanne into letting her cohost his daily fitness show. That led to gigs on the Today show, ESPN, and Lifetime. Her videos and DVDs -- the latest is Shape Up & Shed Pounds -- have earned her a place in the Video Hall of Fame.
"Everything in moderation," Austin says of staying trim. And yes, potatoes are okay: "They're a vegetable."