Six years my senior Denise Austin still rocks a tight tummy and I am in utter awe. Today is the launch of #TheFierce50, a movement dedicated to women 50 and above who are thriving, creating, celebrating and living authentically where they are in life. I am over the moon excited to be partnered with my friend Denise to write about how fabulous she is and what she has up her sleeves entering this new decade.

Here we are!

My 54th birthday was last month but, to be honest, since I turned 45 I haven’t really paid much attention to the actual number. Being plagued with joint pain and menopausal menaces the years have rolled along. Taking a forced departure from my love of teaching exercise, this period of my life has fortunately paved the way for a new passion.  Fitness writing, blogging, and consulting.  Basically talking my way through it.  Holy cow, do I ever love it!

Speaking of talking I had the pleasure to catch up with the the energetic, all natural, newly turned 60, exercise lover and fellow NBC Today Show Fitness Expert Denise Austin.

She’s amazing.

Denise recently moved back to Southern California after living in the D.C. area for 33 years. Born and raised in California, she’s happy to be back and so am I. While we chatted on the phone, I couldn’t help but think how our fitness stories matched up, both in similar ways and some not so similar ways. To start she majored in Physical Education with an emphasis on Exercise Physiology. After graduation she starting teaching aerobics in Los Angeles.  I, on the other hand, graduated with Phys.Ed/Exercise Phys. major with a Dance Ed. minor. However, I taught aerobics to my roommates in the basement of our off campus house.  (ok I MADE them do aerobics in the basement LOL)

Her first break on television came when she was in Washington D.C, attending a conference on fitness for the President’s Council and met Jack LaLanne. Wait what?!! Can you imagine that? She flat out asked him if she could be on his show. He liked her so much that she became his co-host! Wow! She also spent some time as the fitness expert on the Today Show in the 80’s. That might sound familiar, I had the same honor to be the Today Show fitness expert from 1992-2005.  Like her “ask” to Jack, I wrote a letter to Katie Couric requesting to join the show.  Lesson learned. Don’t be afraid to ask for something you want. One of my favorite memories of the Today Show was when Jack LaLanne was there doing an interview about his turning 90 years young.  He jumped into my segment and took over.  It was amazing.

Kathy Kaehler and Jack LaLanne on Today Show

Kathy Kaehler Fitness Expert for Today and icon Jack LaLanne on the Today Show

Denise Austin and Jack LaLanne

Denise Austin co-hosting with Jack LaLanne.

Following the Today Show, Denise spent 10 years on ESPN followed by 13 years on Lifetime television all while selling a whopping 23 million exercise videos and dvd’s. She is my fitness hero.

Ultimately, I wanted to know what she thinks about working out today?  How has she kept her figure? What does she look forward to now that her girls are out of the house? And guess what?  She likes cake!

Denise feels like she’s 40 even though the first number is now a 6.  She is all natural, period.  I honestly think I could hear her famously tight tummy get tapped like a drum as we talked on the phone. Yes there is muscle memory for Denise as she was a gymnast early on which created the foundation for her athletics and fitness. Something she has impressed upon her daughters as both are extraordinary athletes and one is following in her fitness footsteps. Her philosophy for fitness today is moderate exercise. Thirty minutes is fine. If you have more great. If you have less that’s ok too. The key is just doing something.  I love her attitude. Don’t be obsessed. Many women today feel beaten up by exercise. Embrace the take away from Denise, “I don’t want to beat up my body, a little at time keeps my body in balance”. I love that!

You are so cute.

Her pillars of exercise have always included stretching, strength and cardio. Mixing and matching her workouts  keeps it fresh. Lightweights, yoga, walking, pilates are some of her favorites. It’s simple and straight forward, use it or lose it. Pay attention to your health, firm up your muscles, the more minutes you add of exercise to your day the better, even if it’s only ten!

Currently, Denise has more time to enjoy with her sports attorney husband. They were headed back east to the NBA All Stars right after our call. I could tell from the bubbly tone in her voice that Denise is pumped up about 2017. She is turning her focus online with her awesome website community where she connects with a massive following.  A community she has built from the years of teaching fitness and health.  Denise loves guest speaking and gets to do more of it as the AARP Wellness Ambassador.

Denise and her daughter Katie.

I am so proud to share the conversation I had with Denise.  She is the epitome of #TheFierce50 

Keep tapping that tummy Denise you’ve inspired me.

To learn more about #Fierce50 click this link.  It’s amazing.