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Viral Star Of "Prancercise" Video Has Hudson Valley Ties

One of the internet’s latest viral stars has ties to our region.

Like Psy’s “Gangnam Style” and countless “Harlem Shake” takeoffs before it, Joanna Rohrback’s “Prancercise: A Fitness Workout” caught fire in a hurry last month, leading its Florida-based proprietor from virtual anonymity to millions of views and even the Today Show.

"The hits on my video were going up without any apparent reason," she says. "I wasn't sure if it was a computer error or what."

But what is prancercise? What isn’t it?

It’s a workout, it’s a book, it’s a company, it’s the latest internet phenomenon, and for Rohrback, it’s has been a way of life for decades, a daily exercise regimen that hasn’t been curtailed by all the bemused Facebook shares from around the world.

If you haven’t seen the video, you should.

The trim Rohrback, in her early 60s and looking like something of a Fred Armisen character, glides through a sunny cityscape to a vanilla soundtrack, her prancing approximating a cross between a lava lamp’s oil blob and Olympic dressage.

Rohrback, a realtor and social worker is a graduate of Oakwood Friends School in Poughkeepsie and Westchester Community College. She says she left New York for Florida as part of  an engagement that didn’t pan out.

"I love the area. It's just beautiful," she says. "It's a great place."

The entire spectacle got a second round of attention when pop star John Mayer featured Rohrback prancercising through the streets of Florida in the video for his new single, “Paper Doll,” which was fimed in Fort Lauderdale.

Maybe some of Rohrback’s new fans are being ironic, but Rohrback is totally serious about her novel approach to working out.

"I'd love to entertain some investors that would maybe join me to open up prancercise studios around the country," she says. "I just have to engage people and hopefully have the same dreams answered I've had."

Would she be open to prancercising across, say, the Walkway Over The Hudson, perhaps?

"I've done it in cornfields, I've done it by the ocean, by mountains, forests, I just love prancercising," she says. "I would do it anywhere."

A lifelong resident of the Capital Region, Ian joined WAMC in late 2008 and became news director in 2013. He began working on Morning Edition and has produced The Capitol Connection, Congressional Corner, and several other WAMC programs. Ian can also be heard as the host of the WAMC News Podcast and on The Roundtable and various newscasts. Ian holds a BA in English and journalism and an MA in English, both from the University at Albany, where he has taught journalism since 2013.