The story behind how Denise Austin met her future husband, Jeff, couldn’t be more fitting for the workout instructor. The two, who have been married for almost 30 years, met in 1981 at a fitness studio where Denise was teaching and Jeff, a former professional tennis player, was practicing with his sister, Tracy. The manager introduced the two and they have been together since. (Cute, right?) We asked the world-renowned fitness expert, who just launched a new book, Side Effect: Skinny, how she and her husband stay fit and her tips for a healthy relationship.
You and Jeff both have busy schedules. How do you make time for fitness and quality time together?
We like to mix it up and do different activities together. We play tennis, go on bike rides. We work out together in the morning, before kids would wake up.
How can other couples squeeze fitness in their routines?
It’s so much fun to have your spouse working out with you. Jeff puts together playlists, or our daughter would put together playlists, and we talk about music. Riding bikes is also an easy way to hang out. You become each other’s motivation, like a personal trainer. Pre-plan based on each other’s schedules. My husband is a guinea pig for my workout DVDs. I make sure that my exercises are still good for guys too.
What about when you have different fitness preferences from your husband? Say he’s a runner and you’d rather take classes at the gym.
The simplest thing you can do is stretching at home. Whatever you’re doing, stretching is usually ignored. You can help each other stretch, which can be sexy. Everyone has the same set of muscles to stretch. That’s an easy thing to do at home. Especially if your husband doesn’t exercise, you can encourage him and get him started. I don’t play tennis as well as my husband, but we play together and have fun.
What do you two have planned for Valentine’s Day?
We’re just going to have a nice healthy dinner with red wine. We’ll work out in the morning. It’s also my birthday the day before (Ed’s note: Happy Birthday Denise!), so maybe we’ll mix the two celebrations.
Do you have any fit date ideas? What about ways you can make the dinner and a movie date healthier?
You can go for a walk, even if it’s just around the neighborhood. Play golf, play sports. It can be anything, like playing Frisbee. Jeff and I play ping pong together. We also do plank challenges.
September’s Top Workout DVD: Denise Austin Sculpt & Burn Body Blitz
Best for: Intermediate exercisers in need of a peppy motivator; those short on time who prefer squeezing in several short workouts rather than a long one.
Why it’s a star: Experienced and enthusiastic trainer Denise Austin (she worked with the original fitness innovator Jack LaLanne himself!) leads you through four speedy yet effective workouts, plus a warm-up and cooldown, during this new DVD. Users get a little taste of many fitness trends: Kickboxing, kettlebells (you can swap in a light dumbbell) and sport-focused drills during the 10-minute segments. Since many muscles are challenged at once during moves like a lunge with a weighted punch and jumping squats with jumping jack arms, you can still get results in a short amount of time!
Where to get it: deniseaustin.shop.sportstoday.com, $7.99
Now tell us: Do you like to complete one longer workout or several quick ones throughout the day?
This month I worked with fitness pro Denise Austin on our Lose More Fat! workout (page 64 of the April issue — on newsstands today!). Besides Denise’s passion for fitness, I just love her positive attitude, contagious energy, and the fact that she’s just really really sweet! After speaking to her on the phone I felt like she could definitely be a workout buddy of mine. (How cool would that be?) Here’s a little from my chat with Denise!
What’s your greatest accomplishment in your career so far?
Well I wouldn’t say this is necessarily an accomplishment but it’s something I’m very proud of. I’ve continued to stay close to my mentor, the late Jack LaLanne, throughout all these years. He gave me my big break when I co-hosted his TV show with him. When he passed away this past year, his wife asked me to give a speech at his funeral—it was a very meaningful moment in life. But I’m also proud of being appointed by President George Bush to the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports for two terms.
What workout apparel and gear can you definitely not live without?
I love my Skechers Shape-Ups Radius Trainers—I wear them all around my house and while doing errands. I constantly feel like I’m working my muscles out when I have these on. I also live for my dumbbells! You can do anything with them, especially helping my achy wrists doing push-ups!
What’s the most annoying thing people assume about celebrity trainers?
I’m a foodie so every time I go out to eat and don’t order a salad, I get weird looks! Everyone is always so surprised and assumes trainers only eat salads, but we like real food too! My favorite is a pepperoni pizza and a cold beer when I’m hanging out with friends. See, we like to have fun too!
Read on to find out which exercise Denise dreads most — and which star she thinks should play her in a movie!