Living in south Florida, I’ve become accustomed to the occasional celebrity drive-by.
I’ve shared the foot shower with Sylvester Stallone as we rinsed the sand from between our toes after being on the beach. I ate a hamburger a table away from Rod Stewart and his family and downed a couple Manhattan’s while Barbara Eden sat a stool away.
Most encounters are memorable, as is the time I met Adam Sandler or when I nearly took out new-neighbor Kevin James and his family at a crosswalk while I was texting and driving. And I’ll never forget sitting at a bar as a tearful John Boehner begged and pleaded for votes from one of Florida’s political leaders in a scene reminiscent of Jimmy Baker’s cry for forgiveness.
The latest person I had the pleasure of seeing was none other than Joanna Rohrback.
It was “Lobster Tuesday” at the Isle Casino at Pompano Park. As me and my friends Brandy and Scott voraciously ripped the heads off lobsters and used nutcrackers to bust into their claws, I looked to my left and standing in line to get into the all-you-can-eat extravaganza, there she was.
I motioned over and Scott said, “Wow, it’s her!”
“Who?” Brandy asked.
Simultaneously, we both said, “the Prancercise® lady!”
“The what lady?” Brandy asked again.
Ok, so maybe this wasn’t the “biggest” celebrity encounter of the year. It was more like meeting the weekend weather guy on the 14th rated local news channel.
Rohrback is one of those minor-celebrities that has recently become a YouTube sensation and is gaining national attention for something rather unusual. In her case, it’s an exercise program she describes as “a springy, rhythmic way of moving forward, similar to a horse’s gait and ideally induced by elation.”
In her online videos, the 70’s something Coral Springs, FL resident tries to look a bit younger than her actual years (so south Florida!) and is seen “galloping” along palm lined pathways with an occasional break in the action to inject some humor or advice for those wanting to break into this form of exercise.
The videos aren’t meant to be funny, but you can’t help but smile, giggle or laugh so hard you pee a little. From the crazy motions, to her crackly voice and I-want-to-be-a-teenager-again looks, there’s no second guessing why she has attracted such attention.
It wasn’t until recently that the Prancersise woman got thrown into the national spotlight. After appearing on a few local news shows, word began to spread and her videos have gotten over 8 million views. My favorite reporter of all time, Jeanne Moos of CNN, even did a piece on her as did CBS, US News & World Report and even Tosh 2.0.
As I continued to crack lobster claws and down some peel-and-eat shrimp, I got to thinking about this woman’s rise to fame. She’s not some A-list celebrity. She’s certainly not a super-model. She’s not married to or had sexual relations with Bruce Jenner. So how did this all come about?
Her story is not that complicated. She created a product – in this case her exercise program – that was a tad (understatement) bit unusual and used social media to get the word out. Her videos were quirky enough to ratchet her to the top not because of their exercise content, but for the unintended humor that accompanies them.
As people began sharing her videos for comical purposes, the spotlight was firmly planted on her and national media attention began to follow. She now has a book, offers coaching, and recently signed a deal with Wonderful Pistachios to star in a television commercial as part of their “Get Crackin’” campaign that also features the likes of Dennis Rodman.
The Prancercise lady should be an inspiration for all of us. Yes, even you! If you’re an entrepreneur looking to build a brand and a following, she’s proof that just about anyone with a dream and drive can do it. For those thinking that age could be a barrier to your success, I call your attention to her and shout, bullshit!
I’m having second thoughts about not walking up to her and asking for a photo that night, or at least asking how many gallops around the block she will have to do tomorrow to work off her noshing at the buffet.