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The surprise star of 2013: The 'Prancercise' lady

Wednesday, 11 Dec 2013 | 8:00 AM ET
Prancercise Founder Joanna Rohrback
Larry Marano | Getty Images
Prancercise Founder Joanna Rohrback

It's been quite a year for Joanna Rohrback. One year ago this Christmas, she posted an exercise video that showed her working off calories by mimicking the movements of a horse.

She called it "Prancercise."

For months, the video sat unnoticed on the Web. In May, however, somebody, somewhere—I don't really know how it all started—discovered the video, and the rest galloped into history.

Jane Wells tries Prancercise
The latest video to have gone viral introduces "Prancercise," an exercise program that mimics a horse's various gaits.

I interviewed Rohrback that month, back when the video had only 316,000 hits. It's now closing in on 9 million. She took all the ribbing about the video in stride.

"Let them laugh," she said good-naturedly. "Who would pay any attention to a boring, average, everyday video? I am so glad ... I have my confidence."

Rohrback has since appeared on network television and even landed her own commercials for pistachios. She also added an "X-rated" version of the original video, which ... wasn't.

I contacted Rohrback to reflect on what a year it has been, and I asked her if Prancercise still has legs.

(Read more: White men can't jump...to court, says Archie Comics co-CEO)

"The future holds a host of possibilities," she told me. "On the horizon some possibilities are a reality show, my own studio to teach classes and, ideally, franchises."

She's so busy that she's having a hard time staying on top of offers, Rohrback said.

"I still am in the process of enlisting a 'celebrity agent,' " she said. "My cautious nature and inexperience has me forestalling this necessary asset."

The best part of the year has been meeting creative, innovative people, according to Rohrback. The toughest part has been running her business almost entirely alone.

"This past year has introduced me to the hypercritical life a celebrity experiences, and that's not necessarily easy medicine to swallow," she said. However, she revels in experiencing what she calls "the groundswell of joy and fun I've obviously been able to deliver to masses of people all over the globe … autographs, pictures with me and hugs."

(Read more: No cuddling, please. We're Wisconsinites)

She's also been "doin' some walkin'," as the video says. "Prior to May I hadn't flown by plane or gone very far since 2000," Rohrback said. "Now it's been several trips to L.A., multiple trips to New York, a trip to Chicago, Washington D.C., and Indiana."

For all the laughs, she's dead serious about the benefits of the exercise she created.

"When the dust finally settles, I hope people will begin to really grasp the true essence and depth of my Prancercise program," Rohrback said.

Have they grasped it enough yet to let Joanna Rohrback Prancercise all the way to the bank?

"I'm not rich, and I'm not poor," she told me. "I'm making a living doing what I love and believe in so much, and for that I'm thoroughly thankful."

—By CNBC's Jane Wells; Follow her on Twitter: @janewells

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  • Based in Los Angeles, Jane Wells is a CNBC business news reporter and also writes the Funny Business blog for CNBC.com.

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