With every dainty canter she makes, Joanna Rohrback is proving that Prancercise is no flash in the pan. The 62-year-old first lit the Internet ablaze last year with her equine-inspired exercise routine and free-spirited demeanor. Clad in a Chanel-like sweater and snug white pants, a rhyming Rohrback unleashed her ankle-weighted workout upon the world, which she affectionately describes as “a springy, rhythmic way of moving forward, similar to a horse’s gait and ideally induced by elation.” The endearingly eccentric video has since drummed up more than 10 million views on YouTube and inspired countless parodies.
After nearly a year of virtual silence, Rohrback returned last week in a video filled with even more uninhibited frolicking. For her latest installment, she recruited a ripped and zebra-clad Prancercise partner named Victor. Together, they prance alongside real horses at the Peaceful Ridge Rescue, an equine sanctuary in Davie, Florida. Given Prancercise’s enduring appeal, we decided it was time to speak with Rohrback about her workout, her inimitable style and her vision for the future.
How do you feel about the people who parody your work?
There’s always going to be people who parody me. I was an easy target. They made fun of my clothing. Or the fact that my pants were a little on the tight side. Some of these people are insecure. Others are just haters. And personally, I don’t give two hoots. I’m not insecure about myself. I’m not a follower. Let’s face it. Some of these people just wanted an excuse to Prancercise. And I bet you they had a lot of fun doing it.
Where did the idea for Prancercise come from?
I’ve been a fitness nut and vegetarian most of my life. I loved expressing myself through rhythm. And Prancercise was a natural extension of my being. One day along the boardwalk in Hollywood [Florida], I heard a really good song on my Walkman. It was Motown, I guarantee. My body just really wanted to move. I was in an ideal state of mind. I just let loose.
What goes through your head when you do it?
I sometimes think of myself as a beautiful horse out in the meadow prancing along. I imagine myself a liberated soul or creature or whatever you want to call it. I Prancercise almost everywhere.
I never owned a horse growing up, but I used to love to be with them at sleepaway camp. Some have joked that I must have terrorized the horses in the video. Bullshit. I don’t believe in forcing my will on other creatures. When you get on a horse, you stick a bit in its mouth, you put on a saddle on its back and you control every movement. I wanted to move like a horse, not ride on top of one. I thought of liberating the horse and myself.
Can you Prancercise anywhere? Or just in fields and meadows?
I created Prancercise on the beach. I’ve done it in cornfields. I’ve done it in mountainous areas and parks. Pretty much anywhere you can walk or run with a springy step. Carpeted living rooms aren’t bad either.