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She’s been inspiring everyday Australians to be the best version of themselves since her days as a trainer on The Biggest Loser. But these days Michelle Bridges has a slightly more relaxed attitude to fitness and training than the Michelle we all met back in 2007, and that’s all thanks to a feisty little four-year-old named Axel.
Bounty Parents spent some time with Michelle to chat all things home-iso, and find out why she thinks just five minutes of working out is enough time to have huge health benefits when you’re a busy parent.
“My training isn’t my life the way it used to be and that’s OK”
Like most of the world, Michelle has been bunkering down in self-isolation as we all try to flatten the curve of the COVID-19 pandemic. And like most of the world, she’s found it a time of highs and lows as she spends her days with son, four-year-old Axel who she shares with ex-partner, Steve ‘Commando’ Willis.
“Like everyone it has taken some time to adjust and get used to this new normal, but I feel like Axel and I are getting into our groove,” says the 49-year-old fitness expert.
“We have grown extraordinarily close, and that is something I will be forever grateful for. I have had the chance to spend more time with my son who is changing and growing every day, it’s a gift.
“Of course, there has been cabin fever, and a need for time apart, but overall, we’ve developed an even more special bond. We have our routines and it’s in those that we feel anchored and grounded to each other.”
The forced slow-down that the world finds itself in now has given the recently single mum time to take stock and reflect on what’s really important.
“The biggest change is that I am not rushing as much,” Michelle tells Bounty Parents. “I have become so much more in tune with simple pleasures, like going for a walk. Or even going to get the groceries! It’s like the most exciting thing, even though it’s a bit stressful, you simply appreciate small things so much more.”
And that appreciation for the simple things has Michelle excited about a much more relaxed future.
“I don’t want to go back to my plate being so overloaded!” Michelle confesses. “I do not think I’m alone here. It desensitises you and you become robotic. You don’t have time to flesh out conversations with loved ones, you don’t have time to really enjoy that cuppa and watch the clouds go by.
“I feel like this is a much more human experience than rushing around like crazy, as so many of us do. A challenge I’ve come across though is always having to come up with new ways to keep Axel entertained and busy – it’s a real struggle for me!” confesses the busy mum.
“I’m not alone though as research from BIG W shows 46 percent of parents need help with this in isolation.”
It’s for this very reason that Michelle has teamed up with other Aussie legends like AFL great Shane Crawford, The Wiggles and Zoe Foster Blake for Big W’s ‘BIG Days at Home’ content series where they each show off their various skill sets on different days of the week to help Aussie families fill their iso-days a little easier.
“We have grown extraordinarily close during isolation, and that is something I will be forever grateful for.”
While Michelle may be known as a hard task-master when it comes to physical fitness, her empathy and compassion for those she trains give us clues that, at heart, Michelle is a real softie. And it’s that people-pleasing side of her nature that got a real shake-up when Axel came along.
“Axel has taught me about boundaries,” Michelle shares. “He has taught me how to set them up, how to understand consequences, how to follow through with them and how to enjoy incentives.
“I have always been someone who has often given away a piece of myself in order to please someone else. It’s been through parenting that I can see I need to be clear with my boundaries around his behaviour, and therefore, in order to self-care, I too need to be more forthright and clear with my own personal boundaries. I am forever thankful for this lesson.”
Speaking of self-care, that’s another part of Michelle’s life that’s shifted since motherhood came into her life. When we asked Michelle if the way she looked at fitness had changed at all, the answer was an emphatic: “For sure!”
WATCH: Michelle Bridges films son Axel riding his bike. Continues after video …
“Back when I was footloose and fancy free, I had all the time in the world to luxuriate in my workouts!,” says personal trainer, Michelle.
“I would take as much time as I wanted for myself and my training and I loved it. Of course, that all changes when you become a mum, as it should.
“Change is inevitable. Suddenly my thoughts around fitness changed. Whilst I was and have always been about the health benefits of fitness, it became more about keeping myself healthy for my son. And of course, for my sanity!”
Shifting perspective on the reasons why she exercised, changed Michelle’s whole outlook on fitness.
“Yes, it’s nice to be able to slip into your fave jeans and feel great, training for a sense of being able to juggle a full day and still have energy for him and all the things he needs is certainly a priority. I think if I am really honest here, I don’t train anywhere near as hard or as long as I used to. I suppose it’s got a lot to do with more responsibilities now. My training isn’t my life the way it used to be and that’s ok.
“Life can’t stand still. It must and will change. It’s how we roll and accept that which makes the difference I think.”
As part of the ‘BIG Days At Home’ series, Michelle is sharing ‘5 minute workouts for Mums’. But what can just five minutes do for us physically and mentally that makes it worthwhile? Michelle says there’s plenty!
“Just five minutes of exercise can have a mood enhancing effect and can help to de-stress which is why my workouts on BIG W’s BIG Days at Home entertainment hub are targeting mums, who might be feeling the pressure at home right now.”
She’s not just a contributor either, the busy mum says there’s plenty on there to help her fill her days at home with Axel too.
“The BIG Days at Home entertainment hub also has lots of fun content for kids too and is a fantastic free resource us mums can use to keep the kids entertained at home!”
WATCH: Sophie Ellis-Bextor’s glammed up ‘Kitchen Discos’ are family isolation goals!