Given her ageless looks and fabulous refusal to stop churning out records and international tours, Cher's age may seem unknowable. But of course, the power of the internet (and Biography) tells us that the icon is only human after all and that, as of 2019, she's 73 in regular human years.
As otherworldly as Cher seems, it'd be remiss — not to mention pretty scientifically dubious — to assume that she owes it all to a single exercise, no matter how hardcore that workout may be. That said, the legendary singer has gone on record particularly highlighting one (or two) exercises that keep her looking and feeling like the true Goddess of Pop.
Cher's Fitness History
"I feel better and look better in (and out of!) of my clothes. I know that if you make this commitment to exercise, you too will look and feel your best." — Cher, Cher Fitness: A New Attitude, 1991
Not only is Cher's age enough to make people a third of her years feel bad for skipping a single gym day, but Cher's children — Chastity Bono and Elijah Blue Allman — are well into adulthood and her latest album (Dancing Queen) came out in 2018. In the summer of 2019, she can be found touring the Netherlands. By some form of dark wizardry, Cher has still found a way to not only stay fit all these years but to share her fitness secrets with the world.
In 1991, she released her very own '90s-tastic workout video on VHS, Cher Fitness: A New Attitude. On the tape, she says, "I do this program myself, every day, and I know that it works. I feel better and look better in (and out of!) of my clothes. I know that if you make this commitment to exercise, you too will look and feel your best."
The three aerobic programs in Cher Fitness include a 38-minute step workout, 10 minutes focusing on dynamic ab exercises to encourage proper alignment and breathing and 32 minutes for hips, butt and thighs. She notes that the workout was designed by personal trainers, so it's still likely to burn off some calories and tighten buns today, but surely Cher's routine has evolved since 1991, right?
From the Source: Cher's Planks
If you've been waiting for a Cher fitness update since the early '90s, Ellen DeGeneres has your back. In a September 2018 appearance on The Ellen Show, Cher brought the knowledge. On Ellen, she proudly reported on her record planking time, revealing that "Once, I did 5 minutes, but I'll never do that again. But I could do it for, like, 2 minutes without a sweat."
"Once, I [planked for] 5 minutes, but I'll never do that again." — Cher, The Ellen Show, 2018
Whether you sweat or not, planks have a reputation as some of the most hardcore ab exercises out there. If Cher has highlighted one exercise more than others, it's this one. Here's how to get down with a classic, Cher-approved front plank, according to ExRx.net:
- Lie face down, prone on your workout mat. Keep your legs together, extended behind you. Support your lower body on your toes and forefeet.
- Position your forearms so that they're flat on the mat and your elbows are under your shoulders, with your hands facing forward.
- Raise your body upward on your forearms. Keep your head, spine and legs all in a straight line.
- Hold the position. You can work up your hold over time, or shoot for a 2-minute plank, just like Cher.
For a less intense plank, support your lower body on your knees instead of your feet, or angle yourself upon an elevated platform. To make your plank more challenging, raise one foot off the floor as you're holding the plank position.
Planks, as Harvard Health Publishing points out, have earned their reputation by recruiting a wide array of core muscles on the back, front and sides of the body all while going easy on the back.
The Fire Hydrant
Of course, Cher's regular workout doesn't end with planks. When it comes to keeping the butt in a shape worthy of the Queen of Camp, she doesn't mess around. But she does stick to some tried and true classics, including core-busting, glute-friendly fire hydrants.
Fire Hydrant with Arm Lifted
- Place both hands and knees on your workout mat, so that you're on all fours with your arms straight. Keep your hands right below your shoulders and knees under your hips.
- Lift your left hand about an inch off the ground. Keep it lifted for your entire set of right-leg fire hydrants.
- Lift your right leg out to your side, forming a roughly 45-degree angle at your hip joint and a 90-degree angle at your knee joint. Or, as Cher describes the move to Ellen, "make an 'L' with your leg."
- Return your right leg to the starting position, then repeat.
- Switch sides with each set, lifting your right hand a little off the ground and lifting your left leg out to the side.
- Repeat for three sets of 25 on each leg to ascend to Cher levels (but feel free to start smaller and work up as you're comfortable — Cher didn't become Cher in a day).
Keep your core tight throughout the exercise and focus on engaging your glutes as you move your leg out from your hip. Avoid swaying from side to side and keep your head still, looking either forward or down.
This equipment-free old-school exercise offers a solid functional core workout, as the American Council on Exercise reports. In addition to working your glutes, spine and hip mobility, regularly practicing core and glute exercises like the fire hydrant can help you improve your posture, increase your range of motion and stabilize your trunk by strengthening the lumbar spine and scapula-thoracic joints.
Squat Like Cher
If you've ever seen the music video for "If I Could Turn Back Time," you know that Cher definitely doesn't skip leg day. Further professing her dedication to the things that just plain work, she tells Ellen that, "you do squats, you do old-fashioned things."
Cher has plenty of reason for her common-sense affinity toward booty-building squats — Harvard Health Publishing backs her up, reminding everyone that "squats may be the most important exercise you do."
That's because squats engage the hips, knees, feet, ankles, quads, glutes, hip flexors, hamstrings and calves. All that engagement not only helps you sculpt and strengthen your lower body, but it can enhance your mobility and even help counteract some of the effects of excessive sitting, a common problem for desk-bound Americans.
ExRx.net offers some guidance for a traditional bodyweight squat:
- Stand straight up with your feet just about shoulder-width apart.
- Extend your arms fully, pointing them straight out and forward (think of Superman flying).
- Lower your butt toward the floor into a — you guessed it — squatting position, with your thighs parallel to the ground. To get there, bend your hips back as you allow the knees to bend forward. Keep your back straight and knees pointed in the same direction as your feet.
- Return to the starting position, maintaining your straight arms and facing forward. Repeat in sets, always keeping your feet flat, your chest high and your back straight. Focus on maintaining equal weight distribution through your heel and forefoot.
For a more accessible bodyweight squat, hold on to rails (or even chairs) on either side of you to add a little stability, or practice a more shallow squat before you lower yourself too deeply. Dumbbells, kettlebells or barbells can be added for a more challenging exercise.
More Tips from Cher
When Ellen asked, "Do you work out a lot?" Cher was quick to answer right to the point: "Yep. Not every day, but a lot of times." Modest as the answer may be, her fitness regimen is naturally not quite so simple. For instance, Cher also dishes to Ellen that, at least in 2018, she had incorporated some Zumba into her routine. Though she treats this tidbit like a confession, it's actually not a bad choice.
A systematic review of 11 studies covering 586 total participants published in the December 2016 edition of PM & R: The Journal of Injury, Function and Rehabilitation concludes that, while there's limited evidence on Zumba's effectiveness for strength and flexibility, it's effective for improving aerobic capacity and exhibits "small but positive benefits" for body weight. It also has positive psychological effects in terms of overall social quality of life when practiced in a group format. Not too shabby for dancing.
Also of note, Cher's gone on the record as owning a Power Plate in 2018, which is a workout gadget that accommodates whole-body vibration (WBV). This one's a little more controversial, as hard research on WBV is lacking — as Edward R. Laskowski, MD, writes at Mayo Clinic, "whole-body vibration can offer some fitness and health benefits, but it's not clear if it's as good for you as regular exercise." Cher clearly practices whole-body vibration in tandem with plenty of other exercises, though, rather than as a replacement.
If Cher's workouts seem a little overwhelming, remember what the legend herself said in Cher Fitness and don't worry if you feel like you've got a lot to learn: "I'm a student along with you, so I don't want you to feel that you're alone."
- Biography.com: "Cher"
- The Ellen Show: "Cher Divulges Her Butt Exercises"
- Cher: "Dancing Queen"
- Archive.org: Fox Video: "Cher Fitness — A New Attitude (VHS)"
- Harvard Health Publishing: "Want a Stronger Core? Skip the Sit-Ups"
- ExRx.net: "Front Plank"
- American Council on Exercise: "Your Functional Core: A 10-Minute Series to Develop Core Stability and Mobility"
- Harvard Health Publishing: "The Lowdown on Squats"
- ExRx.net: "Squat"
- NCBI PubMed.gov: PM & R: "Health Benefits of Zumba Fitness Training: A Systematic Review"
- Mayo Clinic: "Is Whole-Body Vibration a Good Way to Lose Weight and Improve Fitness?"
- Power Plate: "Home"