John Travolta's been getting a ton of flak recently for renaming Idina Menzel at the Oscars, so it's only fair that we take a step back and remember him for the absolute sex symbol that he was—and to probably a lot of women, still is, mispronunciations and all. A recent used-bookstore gem of a discovery is just the refresher the internet needs. After making a name for himself in Seventies classics like Grease and Saturday Night Fever, Mr. Travolta made his way into the fitness game by publishing a book called John Travolta, Staying Fit!: His Complete Program for Reshaping Your Body Through Weight Resistance Training and Modern Dance Techniques.
The workout guide book starts out with some simple isolation routines and stretches for beginners, and moves on to everything from bench presses to good ol’ pliés. Here is a selection of his sexiest stretch routines to do at home, plus a little bit of dieting, exercise, and hair wisdom from Danny Zuko himself. (Admit it, you totally discovered your love for bad-boy types in elementary school after watching him thrust against the bleachers while giving serious jazz hands singing "Summer Nights." It was confusing for all of us.)
Forward Stretch and Hip Push 
Description: "Keeping your legs straight with your feet parallel, start by bending forward from the waist. Reach your arms out to the side and keep your back in a straight, flat line. Do easy bounces in this position. Then, straighten up, place your hands on the back of your hip, and in a rocking motion push your hips forward doing easy bounces."
Repetitions: "Do eight bounces forward and eight bounces pushing the hips. Do twice in 8 counts and then twice in 4 counts."
Stretch and Squat 
Description: "Start with legs apart, toes pointed forward in a parallel position. Begin by bending over at the waist to allow your head to be as close to the floor as possible. Take hold of your ankles or calves and give a gentle pull as if trying to get your head through your legs. Then, while still holding on to your ankles, bend your knees and squat. Your knees should be pointing forward, and you should look straight forward."
Repetitions: "Use 8 counts to stretch forward, holding on to your ankles. Then 8 counts in the squat position doing a bounce on each count. Do this twice in 8 counts and twice in 4 counts."
Open Split on Back and Hold 
Description: "Resting on your back, extend your legs straight up towards the ceiling. Open them out to the side and flex your feet so that your toes are pointing downward. Apply extra pressure with your hands. Keeping the backs of your legs straight, slowly bring your legs together and point your feet, then slowly open your legs to the side again and flex your feet."
Repetitions: "Begin by holding the open position for a total of 16 counts. Use your hands on the insides of your knees and apply gentle pressure. Then use 4 counts to bring your legs together, pointing your feet, and 4 counts to open to the side, flexing. Do this twice using 4 counts, then twice using 2 counts to bring your legs together and 2 counts to open."
Changing Position: "After completing the Open Split, change positions by bringing your legs together. Bend them to your chest and lift your shoulders and head, balancing on your elbows, so your weight is resting on your tailbone."
Hip Thrust 
Description: "While lying down, bend your knees and put your feet flat on the floor twelve inches apart, with your knees pointing straight up. Keep your arms down by your sides. Begin by lifting your hips off the floor. Your feet should remain flat—you will now be resting on your upper back, shoulders, and neck. Push your hips up to the ceiling in a bouncing fashion, releasing your hips down an inch or two between each thrust. Then hold the thrust position with your buttocks held tight."
Repetitions: "Do the hip thrust 8 times, using 1 count for each push, and then hold in the thrust position for 4 counts. Repeat the entire sequence a total of four times. After this, sit up and continue."
Lunge and Split 
Description: "Kneel on your left knee with your right leg forward, bent, foot flat on the floor. Keep your right leg turned out so your right knee is pointing to the right side. Take 8 counts to lean your weight forward and turn your right knee out. Keep your stomach muscles lifted. Keep your right knee in line with your right foot as you are bending. Then place your hands on the floor in front of you and straighten your left leg behind you, the ball of the left foot on the floor and your left knee facing downward. Your left leg should be in direct alignment with your spine. Keep your right knee bent and turned out as you do eight easy bounces, working your left hip to the floor. Then point your left foot and slide it back, straightening your right leg as you go into as much of a split as possible. Remember not to push yourself too far at first. When you slide back into the split you can bend your back knee to ease some of the pressure."
Repetitions: "After completing the exercise once, reverse sides and repeat with the right leg."
John's Thoughts on Exercise:
“Taking up exercise is a little like learning to fly. When taking flying lessons, many people quit after the ninth or tenth hour of instruction. It’s so hard and discouraging, they don’t see any future. But if they’d just go on for another two hours, it would click. I quit flying at this point twice before I finally stuck with it and got it; and now flying is one of my favorite things.”
“As I started to see my body getting into better shape, my appetite for food decreased—but my appetite for sex increased! Fortunately sex is not fattening so treat yourself to it.”
“You really can make yourself over. As for the stomach, you can’t burn it enough. Make sure you exercise it every day. And a final word to the women—the pectoral exercises really can make you more shapely. I’ve seen it happen with my friends!”
“In order to play a professional dancer Tony Manero in Staying Alive, I needed a lean muscular body with strong supple lines. I had four months to get into the best shape of my life. This was a terrific challenge—because I was in the worst shape of my life. I was twenty pounds overweight and I hadn’t done any regular exercise for almost a year. If I was to reach my goal, I would need to work out full time—and I did! I worked six days a week for a minimum of five hours a day—and sometimes for fourteen hours a day!”
“As you can see from the pictures, this program worked for me.”
Tips on Diet, Health, and Looking Good:
“There are three times when you should not exercise:
1. When you are extremely tired
2. When you do not have enough time to perform all the exercises adequately
3. When you are ill or recovering from a cold or injury”
“Do not eat any food past 6:00 PM. Try to eat your last meal between 5:00 and 6:00.”
“Do not drink extremely hot or cold liquids.”
“I have found that diet and exercise are the most important elements in keeping my hair, scalp, and skin in great shape.”
Really, the man does have great hair.
Photos by Devon Swartz.