Denise Austin has made a life out of motivating people to get moving. For more than 25 years, the San Pedro native has watched the fitness world transform, cheerleading along the way. She's sold more than 20 million exercise videos and DVDs, starred in fitness television shows since the 1980s and written 10 books. She's married and lives in Washington, D.C., has two teenage daughters, runs an online diet and fitness program on her website and is preparing to make even more DVDs and TV shows and write more books.
Austin, 52, paused and reflected on physical fitness in California, whether the perfect body is possible and her plans for 2010.
I'm a big believer in a balance of workouts -- a well-balanced workout plan. Part of it is cardio, part strength training and then flexibility. You really need all three. You have to make your muscles feel surprised. Mix in interval training, boot-camp-type workouts, a little yoga, a little Pilates. I personally have switched my routine to be a little bit of everything.
Walking is one of the best universal exercises, of course, because you can do it anywhere.
I also often tell people: "You are your own architect." Most Americans are sitting for 7 1/2 hours a day. Think about how you are sitting. Ask yourself: "How am I living those 16 waking hours of my life?" Exercise is important, but so is how you live your whole life.
How has the fitness world changed over time, and where is it headed?
We still have a lot to do as fitness experts. In the 1970s, it was running. Then we went to the aerobics to low-impact aerobics to step aerobics to yoga. The thing is to find something you love and stick with it.
The true message is that we still have a lot to do to get in shape. Everyone knows they have to work out. It's finding the time in our busy lives to actually do it.
Is the perfect body more attainable now than it ever has been?
Well, honestly, I don't ever think of a perfect body. I think of a healthy body. No one is ever just perfect.
I tell people: It isn't about being a skinny mini. It's about being fit, being healthy, it's how you live your life, how you are balanced.
You have to live. I believe in everything in moderation. Sometimes when people overdo things, they quit. My goal for people is to make it attainable.
Now with the economy, people need a way to get rid of their stress. It's so important to get out for a walk at lunchtime. If you're 40, you really need to prevent things now. I'm 50, so I can relate.
What can women expect from their bodies after 50?
I believe a woman can get a fit, toned and sexy body at 50, but she has to work out for it. Fight gravity all the way. Exercise is a must. Especially muscle-conditioning moves. To keep up your muscle tone and firm up, work out at least three times a week with weights, your own body weight, Pilates or boot-camp-type exercises that focus on strength.
Of course, cardio is so important too, as well as stretching for flexibility.
What about your children? How did your body change after pregnancies?
I have two daughters. I exercised during both pregnancies -- even filmed my TV shows and did videos while pregnant. I gained 30 pounds with each one. It took me about three months afterward to look OK and about six months to get back to my pre-pregnancy form. I had to film my TV show six weeks after each baby so, of course, I didn't look my best, but it was real -- nursing and all. Plus, it was interesting to note that the ratings went way up. Probably to see if my tummy was flat.
Denise Austin: Q & A with a fitness guru
Exercise guru Denise Austin is always in motion, and she says you should be moving too. Here's how.
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