MICHELLE BRIDGES: “AXEL IS MY PRIORITY NOW”
PERSONAL TRAINER, TV PERSONALITY AND AUTHOR MICHELLE BRIDGES, 45, AND HER PARTNER, FELLOW BIGGEST LOSER TRAINER, STEVE ’COMMANDO’ WILLIS, 40, ARE PARENTS TO AXEL BRIDGES WILLIS. MICHELLE CHATS TO M&B ABOUT FAMILY LIFE, KEEPING ACTIVE AND HER NEW BOOK.
The fitness guru on how her new son has enriched her life
Motherhood is everything I’d thought it would be and more. I never thought it would be so emotional. Had I known that, I would have started earlier and popped out a few more! But the timing was perfect, and he’s awesome.
Boy OR GIRL?
When we found out Axel’s gender Steve and I were on speaker phone, on set at work [Michelle and Steve found out through a blood test]. The doctor asked us if we wanted to know, and before I said anything, Steve said, “Yes”. Because he’s my first child, I wouldn’t know what it’s like not to know, but it was lovely just knowing that we were having a little boy. We were able to do a little prep work around clothes, toys and names.
I loved being pregnant. In fact, I miss it! I miss my body, too. I mean, suddenly I had boobs and I thought, “Wow, this is awesome!” I was so fortunate to have a pretty easy pregnancy. Nothing really bothered me at all, and I loved it. It was a beautiful time. I wasn’t sick and I didn’t have any cravings at all, really. I did crave lots of fresh, green vegetables, but I usually crave those anyway!
The name Axel was like a Melbourne Cup winner. It was right at the bottom of our list and came up to win the race at the very last second. We hadn’t even thought of the name Axel until later, and Steve really liked strong, Scandinavian names. We thought about my grandfather’s name – Mervin – which is really old school. I really liked it, but then we thought, “Will he get teased at school?” You start to think about all these different things. My grandfather would have loved that, but in the end we made Bridges his middle name.
I was really motivated to train when I was pregnant. In fact, I think I trained more than I do now. I was sleeping then too, so because I am a morning trainer, it was a lot easier to wake up and go because he was with me in my tummy. Now, the reason I’m not training as much is more because of me than Axel – when I’ve had a sleepless night it’s difficult to get out there. The most challenging thing for me is definitely the sleep deprivation. He’s been sleeping a lot better in the last week, so fingers crossed!
I guess everybody has an opinion and you’ve just got to ignore it. I know what
my body is capable of, and I have laid my foundations over the last 25 years in my career as a trainer, so with those things in the media, it’s best just to let it go and not read into it. There are way more important things to be worried about in life, and Axel is my priority now. Juggling ACT Steve is a really hands-on dad and I’m lucky that his job means that he’s at home and can look after Axel some of the time. I knew I’d never have a traditional maternity leave because of my businesses, but I am taking time out to enjoy him. Neither of us have any family nearby, but we do have the help of a nanny a few days a week, and I’ll try to make sure that I’m home with him a few days a week. I’m lucky in my job that I can make my own hours and I can take him with me if I need to. Although, I am noticing that as he gets older and he’s more active, taking him with me to board meetings is becoming more of a challenge! Family LIFE Steve is a natural. He was born to be a father, that man! I’m lucky that he’s had children before, so he really builds my confidence. He’s always saying, “It’s okay Mish”, and is so calm and reassuring. We love going for a big hike together with all the kids and Axel in the baby carrier – that’s my weight training! It’s a great way to spend time, but it’s never a casual stroll though; Steve and I always like a challenge! We enjoy getting amongst the trees and getting out of the city. In the KITCHEN It’s important for us to eat dinner as a family at the table, with no phones or TV on. One thing I love using in the kitchen is the slow cooker. You can chop up whatever you have at home, stick it all in the pot and then a few hours later the house smells amazing and you’ve got a delicious meal. We also try to get the older kids involved in the cooking process, and they want to help, which is good. Axel eats almost everything. He loves olives, eggs, avocados, as well as all the different fruits. He currently loves potato and avocado mashed together. He’s always trying new foods and once he’s worked out a new texture, we find he’s pretty good! What’s NEXT? I’ve got a brand new book with more than 200 recipes. It’s beautiful to look at and is full of realistic and easy recipes you can make with the kids. In the past, it’s always been about nutrition as well as an exercise plan. This book is different, because it’s food for the whole family, with recipes that everyone can enjoy. It’s not based on the hottest food trends; it’s about using whole foods and balanced meals and learning about how they work to nourish your body. It’s modelled on food that I would recommend for all of my clients and, so far, the feedback has been great. Having IT ALL Motherhood has taught me to let go and know that you can’t control everything. Usually, I am the person who says, “This is what we are going to do and this is how it’s going to work.” Now, when someone
Motherhood has taught me to let go and know you can’t control everything.
asks me I find myself saying, “I have no idea actually. We will figure it out.” You can’t try to be too in control, because when you’re aiming for that you end up disappointed or disillusioned. I have let go of some stuff and said no to things. This year I’ve really tried to subtract a lot of things out of my life and by doing that I have given myself more. It’s common to have that mindset of deprivation; you’d ask yourself, “Why can’t I have that?” Or, “I have to go without this,” whereas I try to spin my perspective. By subtracting the things that don’t matter, you’re showing resilience and commitment as well as giving yourself more. I’m doing that with different things in my life. Not so long ago, I saw a quote, ‘The secret to having it all is knowing that you do.’ With Axel I’ve got a lot more in my life than I thought I would and I am so grateful for that.
MICHELLE WEARS Grace Willow ’Harriet Hi-Lo’ top, $89, and ‘Anita’ culottes, $99 AXEL WEARS Zara Baby linen shirt, $29.95; Munster at Big Dreams ’Raiders’ jeans, $49.95
MICHELLE WEARS H&M ‘Studio Collection’ shirt, $69.95; Grace Willow ’Lily’ panel shorts, $79; Tony Bianco ’Astrid’ heels, $199.95 AXEL WEARS Kidsagogo at The Corner Booth ’Horse’ romper, $55
MICHELLE WEARS Katies ‘Luxe’ merino crew-neck knit, $79.95; Lounge The Label ’Crique’ pants, $209; Oshka Black bangle, stylist’s own; Sambag ’Natalie’ ballet flats, $170 AXEL WEARS Miann and Co at The Corner Booth ‘Cross’ bodysuit, $50