Kathy Ireland works out -- The "Sports Illustrated" model has "Total Fitness" on her mind

By Chris Nashawaty
Updated December 23, 1994 at 05:00 AM EST

All that’s left from a plate of loaded nachos are a couple of dejected, deserted pinto beans, while nearby the last messy gulp of a frozen hot chocolate lies forgotten in a giant mug. Now the only thing that’s got Kathy Ireland’s attention is the huge tower of hot fudge coming toward the table. The nervous teenage waiter’s voice cracks: ”You were a blast on Melrose…here’s your sundae.”

This enthusiastic clinic on between-meal snacking at New York City’s Serendipity ice cream parlor isn’t quite what you’d expect from a supermodel, never mind one who’s now also in the workout-video biz. But in a lot of ways Ireland, 31, is not the person you may think she is from her bikini-clad image in Sports Illustrated. For starters: She’s married (to Greg Olsen, 35, an emergency-room doctor), she’s a hyperprotective mother (to 7-month-old Erik), and her quiet life in Santa Barbara (not, she stresses, L.A.) couldn’t be more unlike the chain-smoking, carousing-till-4 a.m.-with-Johnny-Depp supermodel stereotype. In fact, if she weren’t so aggressively snarfing junk food right now, you’d probably label her a milk drinker.

Yet it’s shedding pounds, not packing them on, that the model-actress has on her mind these days. With her new Kathy Ireland Total Fitness Workout, she’s entered the exercise-tape fray, joining peers as close as Cindy Crawford and Elle Macpherson and as disparate as Angela Lansbury and Regis Philbin — and a business that sold roughly 15 million tapes last year alone. Ireland wants a piece of the pie — so to speak.

The idea for Total Fitness came after her pregnancy, during which she gained 40 pounds. Although the cover of last year’s SI swimsuit issue, shot when she was 4 months along, deftly hid the seven inches she says she added around the waist (”We just worked it,” she says of her poses for the SI photographers, ”I was just starting to show”), after Erik’s birth she needed to shed the weight quickly for work. So she teamed up with aerobics instructor Tim Green — and dropped the 40 pounds in a month. The training worked so well that Ireland (who’s also a contributing editor at Fitness magazine and gives tips on ESPN’s Body Shaping) got certified as an aerobics instructor and taped her regimen for the video. While she’s already back on the beach for the 1995 SI spread, she’d like to start popping up more regularly in weightier sections of video stores — and adding to the nine movies (including 1991’s Necessary Roughness and 1993’s National Lampoon’s Loaded Weapon I) and the slew of TV shows she’s appeared in. ”In modeling there are certain limitations,” she says. ”I mean, how many poses can you do?”

You may recall one of Ireland’s early big-screen roles, as the mousy daughter of an archaeologist in the 1987 grade-Z sci-fi flick Alien From L.A., if only because it was mercilessly mocked on Mystery Science Theatre 3000. She shrugs: ”It’s a compliment, I guess let’s hope.” It was her latest gig, as the fatal beauty Brittany on Melrose Place, that pushed her acting fitness to a new level. ”Melrose was fun, but it’s always a little strange being the new person on the show. You feel like the new kid in school — who are you going to eat lunch with?” she laughs. Though her part ended after only four episodes, with Brittany on a boat heading for Mexico, Ireland says she wouldn’t mind charting a return course. In the meantime, she is focused on her family, her acting lessons (which she’s been taking for the past seven years), and her acting career. If it weren’t for that one lingering question plaguing her: ”I wonder what’s in the Oreo Express?”