Callan Pinckney is an American fitness professional and born in 1939 as Barbara Biffinger Pfeiffer Pinckney. Callan, whose exercise regime, now known as Callanetics, became a very popular fad in the mid-1980s. According to a Time magazine profile from March 1986, Pinckney is a ninth-generation descendant of one of the founding families of the state of South Carolina. Callan was born and raised in Savannah, Georgia in the midst of old Southern opulence. She was also born with physical deformities of her spine and legs which required her to wear steel braces for seven years. She rebelled against the constraints of her social background, and left the United States without completing her college degree for what would become an eleven-year trek around the world.
Upon Callans return in 1972, and faced with more health problems, she developed an exercise regime based on ballet lessons that she had taken as a child. The success of these encouraged her to proselytize her techniques among her friends and eventually to write a book called Callanetics. Although slow to take off, Pinckney’s persistence paid off and book sales soared on the back of appearances on the daytime TV circuit, notably on shows hosted by Oprah Winfrey, Sally Jessy Raphael and Phil Donahue. The book went on to become a major bestseller in the fitness genre and spawned a popular video as well.