Reality TV

Michelle Bridges: “Australia got to see the REAL me on Dancing With The Stars”

She's famous for her tough exterior, but on DWTS we got to see a softer side of Michelle.
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The version of Michelle Bridges that Australians are used to seeing is tough as nails.

The fitness entrepreneur and former trainer on The Biggest Loser is famous for her fierce, no-nonsense persona, but for the past few weeks on Dancing With The Stars viewers have been able to see a softer side of Michelle.

We’ve watched a woman who was happy to admit dancing is not her forte, and that she was struggling spending hours a day slogging it out at something she’s not terribly good at.

But each week she took the judges’ feedback on board and improved enormously, becoming a fast fan favourite.

Like in any competition, the contestants weren’t always happy with the rules on Dancing With The Stars.

The show’s results – and therefore the contestant eliminated each week – are determined through a 50-50 combination of the judges’ scores and public votes.

That means, even if a celebrity dances well and is awarded a high score, if they don’t have an active fan base willing to vote to keep them in the competition, they’re out.

It’s what saw former Neighbours star Olympia Valance go home last week, and it’s what Michelle believes sent her home on Monday night, despite positive remarks from the judges.

TV WEEK spoke to Michelle following her elimination to discuss her disappointment on leaving so soon, as well as what she’s learnt the most from her time on DWTS.

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Michelle Bridges (centre) with her dance partner Ari and host Amanda Keller, following her elimination. (Image: Channel 10)

Michelle, there’s been lots of commentary on social media arguing you didn’t deserve to go home. Are you sad to leave the show?

We [Michelle and her dance partner Ari] were just sitting here on Facebook and it’s blowing up on the Dancing With The Stars page! People are saying ‘They should have stayed!’

You know, it is what it is. We’re both a bit bummed about it, but someone has to go home and it clearly comes down a lot to the votes that come through and if you’re not voting, then people will go home. We saw that with Olympia.

Has there been some discussion among the celebrity contestants about the fairness of the show’s scoring system?

We know that all we can do is control what we can control and give the best performance that we can. You sort of think if you are around the top end of the leader board, or even second or third position, you probably should be safe.

But I think that’s a bit of false security, because that’s what we all thought and we started to realise pretty quickly, if you don’t have your fans voting for you, you can still be in a precarious position.

Unfortunately, it’s not always going to be based on your dance. It might be a little bit more how many fans are voting.

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Michelle and Ari dancing the Quick Step. (Image: Channel 10)

Viewers got to see a softer, more vulnerable side to you on this. Was it scary to open up like that?

Not at all! I was really happy that I got a chance to just be more myself. When I was on The Biggest Loser, that was a role I was playing.

It was work-related and I take my work seriously. I had a big job to do on that show and I had to get it done. I had to be strong and empathetic and compassionate, but what everyone remembers is me being that trainer that whips everyone into shape and maybe people didn’t understand that’s just one part of who I am.

So it was nice to just be me. A lot of the contestants were like ‘You’re so not what we expected! We thought you were going to make us all do push ups!’ They gave me very nice feedback and said I was lovely, which was really nice to hear.

Do you feel like you’ve been typecast a little bit by the public?

Just like everybody, you have your different roles and when you’re at work, you’re not always going to be sweet and lovely. You have to make hard decisions and we all have those roles. We can typecast someone and assume that’s what they’re like all the time.

So it was nice to go ‘Hi Australia, this is who I am, and I’m really sh**-scared right now because I can’t remember a step to save myself!’

WATCH BELOW: Michelle and Ari perform on Dancing With The Stars. Story continues after video.

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You’ve obviously been spending hours and hours doing dance training everyday and I know you’re a big fan of weights. Have you managed to do any of your own exercise outside rehearsals?

None at all! I haven’t done any of my own training since the show started and we started training at the back end of January. I’m scared to pick up a weight! I’m going to be sore within five seconds.

It’s been so nice to do something different and have someone else take the reigns. That’s been refreshing. I’d like to be able to keep up the dancing, because you don’t even notice that you’re exercising!

Do you think you’ve lost any weight or your body has changed at all as a result?

I definitely think it’s changed my shape and I probably have dropped a bit of muscle.

It’s not anything that anyone wants to lose, because that’s your engine and it’s what keeps the calories burning. But my shape has changed and I feel good.

Did your son Axel come along to any rehearsals?

He was there all the time during dance rehearsals.

We had Tonka trucks and cars all over the dance floor. He was definitely involved, but it will be nice to have some solo time. Like every parent, you just make it work.

Michelle says her body has changed after weeks of intense dance training. (Image: Channel 10)

What do you think you’ve learned by going on this show?

I guess I’ve learned in some ways, it’s not always the most talented person that gets up. Sometimes it’s the person that just puts in the hard work.

I’m surprised that I got this far! When I think back to when I first started, I remember thinking, ‘If I can just survive week one, I will be happy!’ and I got better and better each week. I’ve learned that maybe there is a dancer somewhere inside of me!

I also learned to be on the back foot. So many of my clients with 12 Week Body Transformation are starting from nowhere, which is where I started on this show.

It’s really good for me to be put into that position of a total beginner, where I have no clue what I’m doing and have that self doubt and lack of confidence, lack of self belief.

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