Denise Austin has sold more than 24 million exercise videos and DVDs, authored 12 books on fitness, and starred in the longest running fitness show in the history of television. It is pretty safe to say that Denise is a leader in the fitness world! She has been helping people get healthy for over 30 years, and has created over 100 workout videos and DVDs. On television, Denise has created a loyal audience with her two major television shows: Getting Fit, which ran for 10 years on ESPN and Lifetime Television Network. Denise appeared in Daily Workout and a second show, Fit & Lite, for 14 years, the number one exercise show in the history of TV!
We are honored to say that we were able to interview Denise Austin for Balanced Babe so that she can share her story, her tips for branding yourself, and how she maintains the Balanced Babe lifestyle, please meet Denise!
BB: After college, with an emphasis on exercise physiology, you taught aerobic exercise classes in Los Angeles and then went on to co-host the Jack LaLanne Show. Can you tell us about this journey and how you ultimately ended up on such a popular show?
Well, after college I started teaching exercise and went to a dinner for the President’s Council for Fitness in Washington DC and he was there. I just went up to him and told him how my grandfather and I would watch him on TV and I would workout with him and said that I would love to go on TV with him and make an appearance when I got back to California. He said, “Sure!” Then he asked me to be his co-host in 1981. I did that for a year and a half and then got my own show on KABC-TV in LA.
BB: What an honor it must have been to work with the great Jack LaLanne. What was it like to co-host with him?
It was a true honor because he was the grandfather of fitness and the first one to be on TV with exercise. I would film with him and with his wife Elaine LaLanne and I loved every minute of it. We would shoot five 30-minute shows a day at KHJ in Los Angeles. Jack had tremendous energy. Until the day he passed away I stayed very close with Jack. He was my true mentor and I learned so much from him. I was honored to speak at his celebration of life after he passed and that meant so much to me.
BB: With over 100 workout videos and DVDs, in addition to having your own TV programs and being a fitness expert on various TV stations, you’ve had quite a successful career. Is there one TV program or video that really stands out as being a major catalyst in moving your career forward?
Yes, in 1984, I became a regular fitness expert on the NBC Today Show and I continued that for four years. I would appear once a month in my own segment offering people fitness advice. The other one would be my television show on ESPN. I was on twice a day when ESPN was just starting in the late 80s ,so I was able to be on twice a day for 30 minutes and that made a big impact in my ability to reach more people.
BB: Have you always wanted to have a presence on television? Did you ever go through any training for TV hosting, or did it come naturally to you?
I love television. It’s very exciting to me. I know it’s reaching a lot of people to get fit, healthy and happy. Being on camera came very naturally to me. I think as a gymnast I was used to competition, so I was trained as a young girl to be comfortable performing in front of people. I got better at it and improved over time by doing so many shows. And being around Jack sure helped, too.
BB: You have just launched an all-new health and fitness program titled Denise Austin’s 10 Week, 360° Plan. Can you briefly tell us about this program?
Yes, I’m so excited. It’s the first time I’ve combined everything I know about exercise, eating right and staying motivated, all combined in my 10-week plan. My 360 program takes you on a journey covering all three of these things, and makes it easy and do-able. Everything is online so it makes it easy to do it right in your living room—any screen, anywhere, any time, and the recipes in my meal plan are delicious and easy. The average person has been losing 25 pounds!
BB: What tips do you have for female entrepreneurs that want to brand themselves?
Be true to yourself. That’s number one. Get a good team around you who know your target audience. Be patient, it takes time. And don’t forget to breathe. You’re going to fail but just keep trying. That’s what I did. I had to call the Today Show 35 times and they said no before they gave me my first appearance. Then they let me on and they loved it so much they signed me up for a four year contract. You just have to believe in yourself and stick with it.
BB: If we could take a peek at your daily schedule, is there downtime to relax and unwind?
Oh definitely, I am a true believer in balance between work and family. Balance is so important to me. I never missed one of my daughters Lacrosse games, I would pick them up from school most days, and cook a home-cooked meal for them. Those are priorities that I find important. My daily schedule…I wake up and get in a workout before the kids wake up for 30 minutes, have breakfast, answer all my emails. I travel so sometimes days are different from others. But I eat well-balanced meals that are all part of my 360 Plan but I always make time for my family.
BB: How do you maintain the Balanced Babe lifestyle? And are there are any special beauty remedies or healthy snack ideas that you can pass on to our readers?
I love organic coconut oil on my skin, after I get out of the shower every day. It keeps your skin supple. I try to sleep eight hours a night. I get in at least 7 and try for 8. Exercise is great for your skin and drink lots of water, I love lemon in my water to get some extra vitamin C. I always have parsley in my food, I think that helps with energy. A 30 minute toning workout helps to keep you younger by keeping everything tight. That’s the key to fighting the aging process, it’s all about toning. That’s why I have a variety of toning workouts in my plan from my Barre Toning workout to weights. Here’s a recipe for a healthy snack on the go:
Denise Austin’s Crunchy Roasted Chickpeas
1 (15 ounce) can chickpeas (no-salt-added or low-sodium), rinsed and well-drained
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
1/2 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/8 tsp. salt
1. Arrange the chickpeas on paper towels and allow them to air dry for at least 30 minutes if time allows.
2. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
3. In a bowl, mix the chickpeas with the oil, spices, and salt until the chickpeas are evenly coated with the seasoning mixture. Arrange the chickpeas on the baking sheet.
4. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until the chickpeas are golden brown and crunchy.
5. Store in an airtight container.
Makes 3 servings
Serving size: 1/3 cup