What Happened To Fitness Trainer Kathy Smith?

If you perused workout videos at a video rental or electronics store, you more than likely came across a few titles by Kathy Smith. Perhaps best known for her workout VHS tapes during the 1990s, Smith seemed ubiquitous, with her name almost seemingly synonymous with the home workout concept. In turn, Smith, who is a personal trainer, became a successful and wealthy fitness icon. 

Yet the home workout video market has admittedly died off in recent years, and you may be wondering if Smith has fallen out of the fitness limelight. However, while VHSs and DVDs are no longer the norm, the need for working out at home remains an important niche filled with streaming options. Smith herself seems to have adapted to these technological changes. In fact, she still appears to be on a mission to help people with their personal fitness, especially in mid to late adulthood, with some other important life events happening in between.

In 2000, Kathy Smith's personal fitness philosophy evolved

Kathy Smith got into fitness in high school and college when she started to seriously consider making her passion into a profession. This led her to eventually create the videos of the 1980s and 1990s that we know her for. At the time, she was also often compared with Jane Fonda, the activist and actress who also had a successful workout video collection. In 1993, according to Billboard, Smith had a vigorous strategy of trying to release at least two new titles per year. While the goal for Smith was to release videos tailored to weight loss, fat-burning, and generalized fitness, she also expressed interest in more niche topics, such as stretches to support lower-back health.

After the aerobic workout video craze of the 1980s and 1990s, Smith started advocating for people to do gentler exercises, too. Some of Smith's well-rounded fitness philosophy was expressed early on through some of her video titles, but the market may not have been there yet. However, this changed, as Smith explained in an interview with writer Steve Obsborne in 2000. "I'm always listening to my consumer and reading between the lines," she said. "It started back when I was doing high impact aerobic tapes. I'd ask people for feedback, and they would say how much they loved the tape. But every fifth person would say, 'The tape was great, but the workout was just too hard on my knees.' So I responded by creating a low-impact workout tape." Since then, Smith started advocating for gentler exercises she personally enjoys, including yoga and Pilates.

In 2010, Kathy Smith launched Project You: Type 2

As Kathy Smith's career evolved, she also started working on more targeted projects. One such successful project was called "Project You: Type 2." Smith developed this workout program with the American Diabetes Association and Bodi (formerly known as Beachbody), and was geared towards helping people with type 2 diabetes. According to a description of the program on Smith's official website, "Project You: Type 2" was the first DVD program of its kind, offering workouts and nutritional advice tailored to people with type 2 diabetes. It is also suitable for people with pre-diabetes, as well as those who are new to working out and would like to start a fitness routine.

"With the help of nutritionists, certified diabetes educators, physicians and the American Diabetes Association, I created a simple but effective program to help people manage the disease," Smith said of the program on her website. "This program can help people lose weight, get healthy, and feel great. It's time to prevent the growth of this epidemic and give people tools to fight back and regain control of their lives." In all, according to the product training guide, "Project You: Type 2" includes 10 different workouts, with some also incorporating low-impact exercises to help boost muscle mass.

In 2016, Kathy Smith traveled to the Rio Olympics

Kathy Smith had the honor to cheer on Team U.S.A. at the Rio Olympics in 2016. This was all due to the fact that her daughter, Kate Grace, competed in the women's 800-meter race. The accomplished runner placed 8th at 00:01:59.570, finishing in the top 10 according the Olympics. In speaking of the generational differences between her and Smith, Kate Grace told The New York Times, "Even if I didn't envision this path, I always had coaches telling me, 'You can do this in college; you can even do this after.' My mom had cheerleading available in high school; she is fitter than most of us, but of course she wasn't told that. But I was told it, and I believed it."

What you may not know about is that Smith's own fitness journey started with running. "It helped me discover who I was and brought up my confidence level," she previously explained in an interview with Ability magazine. "It helped me sort out my life at a time when I wasn't sure whether I wanted to continue college ... It was a very confusing time, and running really helped clear my mind and get me focused. It also helped me deal with pain. When you're training for a marathon, you go out for an hour or an hour-and-a-half run. You're by yourself, so there's a lot of time to think. It was an amazing experience, and that's what really hooked me on wanting to be in this profession."

Kathy Smith started a health blog and a podcast

Kathy Smith continued to evolve from her VHS workout beginnings, expanding her information and entertainment offerings. These included a health blog on her website called "Kathy's Corner" where readers can find fitness tips related to toning, strengthening, and weight loss. Here, Smith also shares recipes, relationship advice, mental health tips, and more. Smith's compassionate, and empathetic voice can be found throughout her posts, even when related to fitness. One example is a post about stretching, where she wrote, "Stretching is like a little vacation for your body and mind. It's a moment of pure indulgence in the hustle and bustle of life ... When you stretch, you're not just giving your muscles a nice, long hug."

In addition to her health and wellness blog, Smith also runs a podcast called "The Art of Living." Here, she frequently interviews experts, such as physicians, psychiatrists, relationships experts, and others. Smith's podcasts are also accessible, with options to view the videos and listen to the audio, or read the transcripts. To date, she has posted over 100 podcasts on her website.

In May 2021, Kathy Smith shared heartbreaking details about her parents

Kathy Smith previously shared how she got her start into personal fitness and running as coping mechanisms following the separate, untimely deaths of her parents. "My father died of a heart attack when I was 17; two-and-a-half years later, I lost my mother in a plane crash," she told Ability magazine. "It was a very depressing time for me, and that's when I started running and doing aerobics. In college, I attended clinics given by a doctor who was working with marathon runners who'd had heart attacks but were on the road to recovery. I was drawn to what he was doing with these men and was excited about how running and aerobics were changing my outlook on life." 

In May 2021, Smith shared more details about her parents and their tragic deaths. In a Mother's Day post published on her blog, Smith explained how her father Carl died three days before she graduated from high school. "He was at the office, standing up to give a debriefing, and because he had a very good sense of humor, everybody thought he was joking when he fell down," Smith said. "When they realized he wasn't, they rushed him to the emergency room. He'd had a massive heart attack." Shortly after that, her mother Lorraine, who had already been fighting with alcohol use disorder, started having even more problems with drinking. "The drinking was so bad that she wasn't functional ... And I was aware at that point of a shift in our relationship, how in some ways, I became the mother," Smith said.

Kathy Smith celebrated her 70th birthday in December 2021

Kathy Smith continues to be an inspiration through the decades with both her affinity for fitness and health, as well as her personal triumphs over tragedy. Half a lifetime ago, Smith became a multimillionaire at the age of 35. It's hard to believe that in December 2021, Smith celebrated her 70th birthday. Before this important milestone, Smith shared some of her thoughts about aging well. "Making every minute count by continually learning, sharing, creating, giving, and experiencing," she said about life in she said in a 2021 interview with Ageist magazine. "Each day is a new adventure. The joy I experience by being present for each day allows me to live life to the fullest."

She also explained how she continues to pursue new activities, including hiking and skiing. "I'm looking at the future with extreme positivity ... I have no time for pettiness, judging others or myself, comparisons, or gossiping. I have no time to waste, and I am not worrying about what people think of me." And, she also offered good advice for other women who might be worried about the aging process, telling the publication. "In an age where we have ready access to so much media exposure, it's time to say goodbye to striving for a younger you. Instead, strive for the best version of you right now." Smith not only practices this philosophy, but it also seems to be a driving force for her new online program, "Fit Over 40."

Kathy Smith shifted her focus to a more holistic health approach

When writer Steve Osborne first talked with Kathy Smith, they discussed how the fitness icon adopted a more holistic health approach in which she listens to her mind and body to help guide her toward what she needs on any given day. "What I do on any particular day depends on which season it is, which week it is, whether it's a holiday, whether I'm traveling, how energetic I'm feeling, and so on," she said. "I believe that you should listen to your body. It goes through natural cycles. When you adjust your fitness routine to what your body is telling you, you'll enjoy exercising more." Not only has Smith fit various types of physical exercises into her routine, but she also adopted meditation practices. 

A lot of Smith's strategy involves staying active, whether it's through cardio or gentle stretching, all while following her energy cycles. "Coming to terms with my energy cycle was one of the secrets I discovered to living with increased vitality," Smith told Ageist. "It's all about trial and error, and learning to spot your patterns ... It's one of the reasons I developed a unique blend of strength and flexibility training that combines traditional yoga with toning exercises that helped transform me mentally and physically." She also advocates for others to follow these same principles, staying true to her motto, "progress, not perfection."

Kathy Smith welcomed a grandson in 2023

Kathy Smith's daughter, Kate Grace, seems to have kept Smith busy over the last several years. Not only did Kate Grace compete in the Rio Olympics in 2016, but she also got married to Patrick O'Neil in 2022. That same year, according to Bring Back the Mile, Kate Grace decided to take time off from racing due to the lingering impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Yet there may have also been other reasons aside from her wedding: Kate Grace was also expecting.

Smith became a grandmother in March 2023 when Kate Grace and Patrick O'Neil welcomed their baby boy, River Grace O'Neil. On March 8, Kate Grace posted on Instagram, "Welcome River Grace O'Neil," announcing that he had been born on March 5. The post featured a sweet picture of the new mother holding baby River against her chest in the hospital. Since then, we have also seen numerous posts from his proud grandmother. 

Kathy Smith is also a motivational speaker

Kathy Smith previously told Steve Osborne over two decades ago, "If in some way I can be an inspiration to people who are working through problems and trying to change themselves for the better, I feel blessed for that opportunity." Today, Smith has kept that promise in many ways, whether it's inspiring others to stay fit through mid-life and beyond, to try out activities you truly enjoy, or to maintain a holistic self-care practice.

On top of all this, Smith holds the title of motivational speaker. She has delivered numerous speeches to large companies, non-profits, and small organizations. As her website notes, just some of these organizations include the American Diabetes Association and the American Heart Association, as well as private businesses. She's sought after for her "Gamechangers" program, which helps engage corporate workforces to stay healthy. "Kathy is by far the best speaker we've had at our organization!" said Joe Molinare, a guest at one of Smith's corporate addresses, according to testimonies on her website. "Her dynamic, content-rich style is incredibly effective at empowering people to take positive steps forward. And, she provides step-by-step techniques to advance in all facets of life." Smith still continues her motivational speaking gig, and numerous testimonies have hinted at her positive reception overall.