Most people see only novelty in 1980s aerobics videos. But in high school, senior Melinda Pearl saw an opportunity.
Pearl, who now hosts a televised workout show on GWTV, first encountered the videos when a high school cross-country coach cancelled practice because of the weather and instead had her and the team exercise to the tapes.
“Everyone dreaded them, but I secretly fell in love with them,” she said.
Although Pearl fits the persona of a typical aerobics instructor -healthy, fit, energetic, outgoing and motivational – she said she isn’t “crazy healthy.” In other words, she is not strict about her diet and wears clothes that aren’t spandex and aerobic tops.
“I think it’s incredibly important for people to see that yes, I am an aerobics instructor and I am passionate about health and fitness, but I’m healthy and smart about it. It’s not my whole life, I’m not an exercise addict,” said Pearl.
But it may seem otherwise when students walk into the School of Media and Public Affairs building and see her doing pushups on TV. Her show, which is taped in her dorm room, is almost always playing on one of the six TVs in the lobby.
“I actually think it’s just pretty funny knowing people see me on TV when they walk into the Media and Public Affairs building; sometimes I even laugh at myself,” said Pearl, a senior. “I’m excited knowing that people can walk in and see something that will put a smile on their face.”
Pearl’s show started when she and then-GWTV producer Matt Saunders met on an Israel Birthright trip. When they returned, Saunders and Pearl decided to do a dorm-room accessible workout show.
“My most vivid memory is sweating so much because there were so many bright lights on me in such a small space,” she said about one of the first tapings.
Other students often accompany Pearl on the show, now called “MelindAerobics.” Most students that appear on her show are volunteers.
“I did not recruit these students. They contacted me. GWTV started receiving fan mail from students saying that they wanted to be on the show,” she said. “So we started this new thing where now we go to people’s dorm rooms and give them a workout!”
Pearl’s ultimate goal is to take MelindAerobics to the next level. She wants to make workout DVDs and continue teaching classes. She is majoring in journalism, with a focus in broadcasting and minoring in genetics.
Some of Pearl’s students even become her good friends. Her current roommate, Sarah, was once her aerobics student. Pearl recalls teaching her first class at the Lerner Health and Wellness Center on campus. Pearl taught classes at the Wellness Center before she began her MelindAerobics show.
“It was during the summer, so only two people showed up, but I was still nervous,” she said.
Although this is her seventh semester of teaching, she still gets anxious when she walks into a classroom.
“When I walk into a room full of students eager to take my class, I feel so energized and so excited. I have such a passion for fitness and making people feel well,” she said. “Sometimes I’m having the worst day, but I leave it at the door because my priority when I walk into the room is to give people a great, fun and effective workout.”