Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The West Australian: February 2012

Photo: Supplied

A Bridge to Good Health

I have been given a message for Michelle Bridges from the Perth Crew – “Pretty please can we have a finale party in Perth?”. I have no clue what this means, but Michelle laughs when I relay it.
“Oh my God! Those girls are relentless,” she cackles.
“They’re just hilarious. They’ll get to me any which way they can. It’s coming. Not immediately, but it is coming. It’s been tabled, and it’s definitely on its way.”
Such is Bridges’ phenomenal popularity that she is revered by fitness fanatics around the country: fans who are devoted to her online fitness program ‘Twelve Week Body Transformation’, netting her around one thousand devotees and over 30,000 Twitter followers. The Perth Crew is one such group, who would rather not travel to Sydney to celebrate the end of three months of hard work.
So what’s it like, having this kind of adulation?
“I guess I don’t really think of it like that,” she says.
“I more think of it as having a really, really, really big family. And like family, they’re on your back telling you what they want! But it’s fun too.”
These days, the name Michelle Bridges is synonymous with so many healthy words – diet, fitness, exercise, weight-loss. The personal trainer from Newcastle blasted into public prominence in 2006 on series one of Channel Ten’s ‘The Biggest Loser’, and her star’s been on the ascent ever since. But things weren’t always that way for the amicable fitness guru.
“My Mum was a single mum with two kids and a full-time job, so she had her hands full,” says Michelle.
“But she was very organised in the house. Sometimes she’d get up at 6am and start chopping vegetables to prepare, say, a casserole for us after school. We didn’t have a lot of money, so there’s no way we could afford to be getting take-out. People who talk themselves into the belief that eating take-out is cheaper, well, it just isn’t.
“We all have our ups and downs and there have been plenty along the way for me. Exercise is my rock, and whenever the shit has hit the fan or when there’s been drama, I turn to training as my therapy. I walk into a training session with all sorts of issues going on in my head – I’m upset or angry or anxious - and I come out and, while the problem certainly hasn’t gone away, my perspective on it has definitely changed. My philosophy is never to be dwelling on the history and baggage of it but to move forward. Let it go and move on.
And like mother like daughter, being organised and having a plan seems to have stood Michelle in good stead.
“When I was fifteen years old, I used to lay in bed at night dreaming about running workshops and courses on health and fitness and teaching classes. I went down the local squash court and they paid me to teach classes there. I had no idea what I was doing but it was fun. I freely admit I’m a very ambitious person and I challenge myself all the time. When I first saw ‘The Biggest Loser’ show I thought ‘Oh my God, I want that job. And I reckon I can do it even better’”.
Michelle Bridges fifth book ‘The No Excuses Cookbook’ by Viking is out now, RRP $29.95.