Denise Austin is an American fitness instructor, author and columnist, and a former member of the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports.

If you missed Denise and her daughter, Katie Austin, a certified fitness trainer, health coach and blogger, at Wellness Your Way in Denver, you can catch up on her approach to a fitness lifestyle here.

LN: You are a fitness icon. How has your life journey been so far up to now?

As a young girl, I competed in gymnastics, received a full athletic scholarship to college, got my degree and then began my career in the early ‘80s when aerobics was just starting. Then I met Jack LaLanne, and he gave me my first chance on TV. I had my own show by 1981, and then worked on the Today Show for from ‘84 to ’88. In 1983, I got married in California and then moved to Washington, D.C. In this time, I started to go up to New York more and make myself more of a national name. I had a chance to be on ESPN and started my Getting Fit with Denise Austin segment on ESPN. I did exercise VHS’s, one of the first with Jane Fonda.

During this time, I acquired my own show on ESPN and was on-air for 10 years before I moved to their sister station, Lifetime, for 14 years to really target women. I participated on morning television every day for 24 years straight. Throughout my career, I’ve written 12 books, sold 25 million exercise videos and DVDs, and now I brought back all of my TV shows, which are available to view at DeniseAustin.com. With my new workouts, my focus is helping women over 50 to stay healthy, fit and happy, emphasizing how to enjoy and maintain a positive attitude as we hit 50 and older.

In between my professional career, I had two daughters and they went on to play D1 lacrosse in college. One of them, Katie Austin, now follows in my fitness footsteps. It’s been a dream come true for me to work with my daughter, as we enjoy helping each other. I learn new things from her like social media, and I help her along the way with career advice.

LN: What is the philosophy/mission behind your 10-week program? Does this cross over into all of your plans?

The 10-Week Plan is a wonderful way to create a routine—I believe everybody needs to be consistent and have a routine. I give you a meal plan, daily foods to eat, weekly grocery lists, and you can pick from different eating plans, whether it is gluten free, low-sodium, eating like me by eating well 80 percent of the time and have your treats 20 percent, or you can even choose a vegetarian plan. I have something for everybody on the eating plan.

For each day of the 10-Week Program, I set up specific workouts for you as well. There are workout videos three days a week where you’ll be doing exercise to burn fat, and two days a week you’ll be doing exercises to tone up your muscles while you are also doing yoga and stretching. I have filmed over 150 different workouts at three different levels. If you are just starting, begin on my level one exercise plan where you can then work up to intermediate and then advanced levels. People love to stay on this program, I’ve had a lot of women do it many, many times and they progress up to the more challenging workouts. The program also simply provides people with structure for their week. 

I definitely help participants through the full program, and the average person has lost 22 pounds in the 10 weeks when they stick to the nutritional plan that it comes with. Additionally, I send my “Denisiology” every couple of days where I give participants a positive message to keep them moving with small optimistic reminders to help along the way.

LN: How do food and diet play a role in your programs?

My Whole Body Plan takes you through different components of what I believe contribute to a good, healthy lifestyle. What you eat, I provide a specific nutrition plan for this. How you think, I share a variety of great ways to stay positive and optimistic. How you move, I share all of my workouts at suggested levels. You need these three pillars to lose the weight and really change your lifestyle. It’s important to remember that it is truly a lifestyle. Each of my plans are easy, I don’t yell at you, instead I encourage you. My philosophy is happiness, healthy, fit, and everyone can be successful as a positive person. My idea is to give people a chance to choose by mixing and matching their routine, too. If you don’t like the meal plan for a given day, I have 18 other choices you can select from. I’m not a stickler on types of food, as I really believe in eating the rainbow by incorporating different types of fruits, vegetables, and lean meat in most meals. I am a balanced eater, and that’s what these plans are all about.

LN: You are 62 years old, and you look AMAZING. Please share your top 5+ tips/bits of advice for staying fit in your 40s and beyond.

My first tip is good posture, as this plays a key role in how you look and how you feel, so maintaining good posture by standing up tall, sitting up, and pulling in your tummy for a perfect spine is a good place to start. That way you can breathe better, you can think better, and oxygen flows to your brain so you have more energy.

My second tip is deep breathing, as I believe in really taking deep breaths because oxygen equals energy. The more you take deep breaths, the more you breathe and focus on yourself, that’s why yoga has become such an important part of my regimen and on the 10-Week Plan you are provided with yoga routines. I’ve created over 20 different yoga workouts to choose from with a range of 10 to 30-minute segments. Breathing to me is so important—especially as we age—as it’s a wonderful stress reliever. From five minutes of meditation to breathing while exercising, always taking a good three deep breaths is important for overall health and wellness.

My third tip would be to try not to eat late at night. A couple of nights a week is okay, but most nights try to put a curfew on your kitchen. I try not to eat anything after 8 p.m. on the nights that I don’t go out, that I’m home. Eat breakfast like a king, eat lunch like a queen and eat dinner like a pauper.

My fourth tip would be attitude, because I want people to feel happy with who they are. I believe that you can help yourself by changing your attitude to say: “I am worth it, I deserve to feel good, I want to wake up happy and make a concerted effort to be grateful every day.” This logic in itself helps you feel comfortable in your own skin, being grateful for what you have, and to be honest with yourself in having a positive outlook in life which helps you through the rough patches.

For my fifth tip, I suggest targeted exercises for your muscles. I’m a true believer in sculpting your muscles, shaping and keeping your muscles firmed up so nothing droops or sags. I do at least 10 minutes a day of target toning exercises similar to many on my 10-Week Plan, as muscles work miracles on your metabolism—especially as you age.