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Meet The Trainer: Fitness Expert Michele Olson

For more fun from Olson, check out her new workout DVD. (Photo courtesy of

Written by Andie Surget, editorial intern

Skimpy shorts and bikinis leave little room for your trouble zones to hide. That's why we had FITNESS advisory board member Michele Olson, Ph.D., create (and model!) the "Banish Every Bulge" Express Workout in our June issue! Check it out on page 52, try it for yourself and hit the beach with confidence.

To learn more about the personality behind the powerful workout, we spoke with Olson. Read on to find out about workout of choice, what's hiding in her gym bag and who would be her dream gym buddy!

How did you get your start in the fitness world?

When I was playing competitive tennis in high school, one of our assistant coaches was the head football coach. He made us go to the weight room and lift weights with his football players. I could not believe how much it did for me, my body, my fitness and my tennis game! This translated into my college tennis playing career. I was one of the few who worked out and used weights. Once I saw the power of fitness, I pursued it with even more passion.

There are a lot of fitness trends circulating right now: CrossFit, TRX, 90-day programs, Zumba, etc. Do you have any favorites?

Everything runs in cycles. In the early days of "aerobics" everyone trained hard and jumped their brains out—often causing stress fractures, shin splints, plantar faciitis and back pain. So I began doing studies on hard-style exercise and found that injuries often occur when you do these kinds of workouts more than four days a week without variation. Then, everything moderated to low-impact, more Pilates, less dance-based workouts. And, here we are again, with more extreme exercise programs and more dance-based workouts like Zumba. I like ALL of these formats! There is something in each for everybody. It's just learning how much to do of each and how to vary these workout formats so avoid injury and optimize fitness gains. Personally, I love Tabata intervals, [high-intensity] metabolic resistance training and Pilates. I teach a lot of these formats.

A lot of our readers are super-busy, but they still want to look hot for summer. What are your go-to moves when people are pressed for time?

Body weight exercises and cardio intervals. Do push-ups, triceps dips, lunges, squats, lunge and squat jumps. Get your heart rate up and do compound moves like these to burn calories, develop cardio and sculpt muscle. And don't forget Pilates and yoga ab moves such as the hundred, criss-cross, side planks and boat pose. I've tested these moves in the lab and the university and they are bullish on the abdominal muscles

What's in you gym bag?

Workout cards and workout music to both listen and teach classes to. I also have too many old water bottles (that I need to trash) and my key to my special locker where I stow my kettlebells at the workout studio.

What piece of workout gear/tool can you not live without?

High-quality fitness shoes!  You have to have support from the ground up. You can wear T-shirts and old shorts if you really have to, or all kinds of low-tech items as fitness tools, but you have to have your feet covered (literally) with quality state of the art fitness shoes.

What's your workout hell and what's your workout heaven?

Tabatas and kettlebell snatches. If I don't sort of hate it, I won't love it and the results and feelings of accomplishment.

If you could choose anyone in the world to train, who would it be and why?

It would have to be the President. Regardless of any politics, I would value being around and training someone who has both the pressure a president would have and the ability to persevere under all kinds of scrutiny 24/7. Talk about being "on the line"—front-and-center without a respite. It's like being a professional athlete and then some!

Are you going to be watching the Olympics? Is there a a person or team you're especially rooting for?

I always watch the Olympics. Like most everyone, I get excited about gymnastics!

If you could choose only one place to workout for the rest of your life, the beach, park, gym or at home, where would it be and why?

In the gym with my fellow workout warriors!

Click here to find out more about Olson's latest DVD, Perfect Legs, Glutes & Abs.