1. Your name, title, and age? What do you do (or did you do) for a living?
Denise Austin, 56 years old. I am a fitness expert, best-selling author, wife and mother
2. Who was the person that inspired you as a child to eat healthy and stay fit? What was their relationship to you?
My mom was truly the first person that inspired me, she used to love to jump rope and could even do triple jumps in one turn! Most people don’t know that she was the New York State Jumprope Champion when she was 16 yrs old! She inspired me with her energy and attitude, even while raising 5 kids. My dad played professional baseball, for the St. Louis Browns in 1946, so we grew up pretty active and exposed to athletics. Certainly it wasn’t in the form of set routines like there are today but we saw lots of events and games and were very exposed to a lot of different sports. I was a gymnast and started at a young age. In that field, I have to say I looked up to Cathy Rigby!
My mom always seemed to be having fun and was always dancing, she gave all of us a good, positive spirit. She could laugh at herself and she taught us not to take ourselves too seriously. It really is OK to laugh at one’s self! Little did she know that her daily workouts to Jack LaLanne’s television show would be the catalyst for my career in fitness!
Jack became a huge inspiration when he gave me my first break. He was so natural in his love for fitness and his belief in me was incredibly inspirational. He truly took me under his wing and gave me the confidence to persevere. “You’ve got it, kid!” was what he always told me.
4. How did their lesson change your life?
I was encouraged every time I did cartwheels in the house growing up and so the activity and fun of it was reinforced! Being a gymnast is all about discipline, being in front of people, and performing. My family supporting these efforts gave me a strong sense of self and self-esteem.
It turned out to be a great foundation for my career — family and the gymnastics pulled in everything. Pilates, that I enjoy and teach, is about being centered and using one’s core strength. Gymnastics gave me that in the form of handstands and V-sits, for example. It all was the foundation for my career today. Teaching, inspiring, and sharing my knowledge has come very naturally to me after all those of years of practicing and training. So, the lessons I learned not only changed my life, they ARE my life!
5. Do you convey their message to kids in your life presently?
Of course! Both my daughters play sports at the collegiate level and were captains of their tennis and lacrosse teams throughout the years. I am also married to a professional
tennis player so it is innate in them to be healthy and fit. I convey the “have fun and be fit” message to everyone I come across, young or old!
6. What would be your main message to children today to lead healthy lifestyles?
Find something you love, whether it is dancing, an organized sport or ANY form of after school activity! Get involved in a dance club if it is your thing or an organization such as Boys and Girls Clubs of America, just try to get active! Everyone’s sense of self-worth is better when you feel good! Being active and having fun while doing it makes one feel better. And, test scores in school are better, too!!
Do something alone, with your family, with friends, ANYthing. Making a game or challenge out of fitness always adds to the fun, too. Wear a pedometer to see how may steps you can do in a day!
7. Do you have a web site you would like to promote….web address only?