Michelle Bridges is a household name in Australia.
The fitness trainer flew to prominence during the early-2000s after a long-running stint on Channel Ten’s reality program The Biggest Loser. She was the perfect combo of toughness and heart, which made the show a ratings hit and cemented Bridges’ own popularity as a public profile.
Since then, Bridges has built nothing short of an empire. From a wildly successful training and nutrition program, various philanthropic endeavours and partnerships with some of the country’s largest companies — including Medibank and Woolworths — her energy seems boundless.
But when asked how she manages to juggle it all (including a young family with toddler Axel) Bridges is surprisingly self-effacing.
“It’s smoke and mirrors,” she says matter of factly.
“It’s challenging, but I have a really supportive team and an extremely supportive partner who keeps me grounded.”
Bridges concedes that striking a balance between home and business is not always easy, but women shouldn’t feel obligated to meet every demand.
“Make sure you can take care of yourself and find that balance,” she says.
“The balance seems difficult, but it doesn’t have to be if you’re prepared to say no to certain things.”
It’s hard to believe, but Bridges assures me she’s nowhere near as busy as she used to be and has no interest in meeting every social expectation placed on her.
“I purposely put forward that I don’t want to be that woman ‘who has it all’,” she says. Making time for family and friends, as well as fitness and wellbeing, is the ultimate measure of success for Bridges who says she feels inspired and motivated by those closest to her including her mum, her son Axel and partner Steve (The Commando) Willis.
She’s also inspired by the men and women who take up her fitness program 12 Week Body Transformation — the “people who have never put on a pair of runners in their life” but can still find the strength and resilience to commit to their health.
When asked how her program maintains such an impressive reputation within a saturated market, Bridges doesn’t hold back.
“Because it works. Because it’s the real deal. It’s not based on ‘Insta famous’ or ‘Insta perfect’ bodies. It makes a difference in people’s lives, it builds communities and it’s inclusive,” she says.
Noting that the program is taken up chiefly by women, Bridges says her satisfaction stems from the difference she can see she’s made on people’s lives.
“Many of these women come and are sceptical but before you know it they’re going: ‘Oh my god, my life is completely different. I’m doing things I never thought possible; my family have got their mum back, my husband has got his wife back, I’m back — I’ve got my mojo back.’ If that’s not empowering I don’t know what is,” she says.
She also stresses that there’s no way for corners to be cut when it comes to health and wellbeing. No matter how busy you are, it needs to take priority.
“It’s kind of like getting on a plane and the idea of putting your oxygen mask on before you help others,” she says. “If you haven’t got yourself sorted with your exercise and your wellbeing you won’t be that resentful, angry, over-tired human.” It’s about setting an example and making sure you’re living your happiest life.
Michelle Bridges will be speaking at this year’s Women in Leadership Summit.