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Fitness

EXCLUSIVE: Sonia Kruger reveals exactly how she maintains her enviable figure, plus opens up about her infertility heartache

Since her strictly ballroom breakout role to prime-time TV presenter, Sonia Kruger has come full circle. She talks about dancing as meditation, overcoming anxiety and becoming a mum later in life.

By Paul Ewart
She first found fame as the sequin-clad dance champion, Tina Sparkle, in Baz Luhrmann's 1992 smash hit Strictly Ballroom.
And since her big screen breakout, Sonia Kruger went on to prove beyond doubt that she's much more than a one-trick pony. In fact, the talented triple threat has cha-cha'd her way to the top of Australia's TV pile.
Through a career spanning more than 35 years she's fronted an A to Z of prime-time gigs, from Dancing With the Stars and The Voice, to Big Brother, and most recently, Today Extra.
But paralleling these stellar career highs have been epic personal lows, including a divorce, the death of her beloved dad, and a hard-won battle to become a mum.
And while other women may have turned to meditation, yoga or similar coping methods during tough times, the bubbly presenter tells us that she has her own approach to finding inner peace.
"I love to make people dance," laughs the 54-year-old, flashing her trademark grin.
"That sounds weird, but I think that when people dance they tend to forget about everything else, you know? You don't feel like you're exercising or working out, you're just in that moment enjoying it. To lose yourself – and your worries – swinging around your living room and just cutting loose. It's that whole 'dance like no one is watching' theory."
Almost like a 'Zen and the art of dancing'? suggests Good Health.
"Yes, exactly!" agrees Sonia.
Sonia Kruger's favourite form of exercise is dance. Good Health
In a case of life imitating art, Sonia's role on Strictly Ballroom was the result of a longtime obsession with dance, which began in her native Brisbane at the tender age of four.
The naturally gifted athlete went on to specialise in ballroom and Latin American dance, ultimately representing Australia at the Amateur British Ballroom Championships and was the Australian Ballroom, Latin and New Vogue Professional Champion.
And now, Sonia is going back to where it all began, returning to her first love with the launch of her new dance program, Strictly You.

Love of dancing

"It really feels like I've come full circle," she nods.
"It's funny, after Strictly I kind of ended up moving into the world of television. I didn't step away from dancing, so much as my career kind of took me away from it. I realised that I love and miss this so much."
Two years in the making, Sonia has teamed up with some of Australia's best choreographers, nutritionists and professional trainers to create the dance-based fitness and nutrition program.
Already well-received by thousands of women – all keen to emulate Sonia's rock-hard abs – members get daily full body workouts set to motivating dance tracks, each taking less than 25 minutes to complete, making it perfect for time-poor busy mums.
"That's the other thing," she agrees. "Being a mother, it's often really hard to find the time to get to a gym. You always feel better after you've been and done a workout – there's no doubt about that – but a lot of effort is required to actually go to the gym. With these workouts you can do them in the comfort of your own home and play them off your phone, laptop or smart TV."
Her new fitness program contains meal plans as well as exercise videos. Good Health
State-of-the-art nutrition advice and meal plans is also a key part of Strictly You and – just like the choreography – the diet component of the program has been inspired by Sonia's experiences and eating habits.
"I'm probably like most people where I go through stages where I say to myself, 'You know what? I'm having a cocktail' or 'I'm gonna eat the treats,'" admits the blonde beauty.
"But as I've gotten older, my body tells me if I've been doing the wrong thing. I'll know if I've had a bad week of overindulging, whether it's food or wine or whatever.
"I think once you get into that 40-plus bracket, you're almost forced to take better care of yourself – you can't handle it the way you used to. When I was younger I could party all night and be fine the next day. But now, forget it!"
The 54-year-old has one daughter, Maggie. Good Health

Anxiety therapy

Previously referencing dance as a moving meditation, Sonia has other tools in her wellbeing arsenal to help when life has thrown challenges in her path, be it divorcing her former husband of six years in 2008, or losing her father, Adrian, in 2015.
"I think when you're under that pressure in live television – and I've been doing that for a long time – I think you tend to have that 'the show must go on' mentality," she muses.
"I think I've always been fairly resilient, but I've had moments of anxiety and I have experienced panic attacks. For me, that usually happens in the middle of the night. Thankfully, they have been few and far between. Usually something extreme has triggered them, like when my father died. I suffered a lot of anxiety through that time.
"I found that talking to people about it was the best thing I could do. I'm lucky I've got some great friends who are like therapists by proxy. And I've got a great family that I pick up the phone to talk to at any time of the day or night. I think the best advice I can give to anybody who is feeling overwhelmed in any way is to speak to somebody about it."
Sonia was able to conceive her daughter with the generosity of a donor egg from a friend. Good Health
Another key factor in Sonia's wellbeing strategy is gratitude – when the going gets tough, she gets grateful.
"I really believe that you just have to stop and remember to be grateful," she says.
"When I was trying to conceive Maggie it was one of those times when I was faced with the decision of whether I should stop trying to become pregnant and go through life without a child, or continue to try. At that point I had to remind myself to be grateful for all of the things I did have. There are so many people in the world who have had to endure far more than I ever have – and not having a child is not the worst thing that can happen to a person in life. I've been really lucky, very privileged, and I think it's important to remember that."
Though she and her partner (Channel 7 executive producer, Craig McPherson) had a reached a stage of acceptance, luckily fate had other plans and their daughter, Maggie – now aged four – was born by caesarean in January 2015.
But motherhood was hard-won for Sonia. Previously falling pregnant naturally – but tragically suffering several miscarriages – she then turned to IVF at the age of 45, eventually becoming pregnant after a close friend donated an egg.
WATCH BELOW: See Sonia Kruger hosting Big Brother back in 2013. Story continues after video.

A new focus

It's clear Maggie is now the centre of the former The Voice host's world – her eyes lighting up as she talks about her little girl.
However, as open and honest as she is about exercise and healthy eating, Sonia is equally frank about her decision to become a mum later in life.
"My career was my focus all through my twenties and thirties," she admits.
"My sister had kids when she was young and, in a way, because we are so close in age – it was almost aversion therapy!" she chuckles.
"I saw her work so hard having three small children all under five. And I thought: 'Wow! I want to travel and have a good time.' I had all these grand plans about the life I wanted to live – it was all 'bright lights and Hollywood' for me then.
"It wasn't until I was in my late thirties that I felt that change, which I imagine is what they call your 'biological clock'. I started to feel my attitude towards having children changing when I was in my late-thirties.
"And then, because I had been through a marriage breakup and was then in a new relationship, it meant that I was then at an age when physically it wasn't likely to work out. But as it turned out, it did! It's strange how the universe operates sometimes."

Not that motherhood has impacted on the go-getter's career.
Late last year Sonia made headlines across the country after announcing live on air that she was jumping ship from Channel Nine to Seven. Poised to return in March she's keen to get stuck into a fresh line-up of shows.
"I can't wait to get started at Seven," she exclaims.
"I had a great time at Nine and worked on some brilliant shows there. But to be given the opportunity to do some new things – to be a judge on Australia's Got Talent and to work on the Olympics – is amazing."
The ability to adapt to new shows and formats is undoubtedly the secret behind Sonia's 35-year career, and it's a skill that will no doubt see her through another 35 years.
Not that you'd be able to tell. Another hallmark is her youthful looks.
At just six years shy of 60, her skin is flawless and line-free.
"It's really weird, but I keep forgetting how old I am," giggles the age-defying TV presenter.
"When you said, '54', I was like, 'I'm what?' It doesn't compute in my head because I feel like I'm still 24. Well, more 34, actually. At 24 I was too young to know anything!
"I was talking about this with a friend the other day," she says.
"It's like you spend your twenties and thirties accumulating stuff – wanting to have that car, or that house, or that holiday. But as you get older, you realise that material possessions aren't important – it's about how you've lived your life, the love you've had in your life, and the legacy that you leave behind."

Sage-like advice indeed and clearly it runs in the family, as Sonia references her dad's take on ageing.
"My dad loved that song, Young at Heart. It's like you'll never be old if you're young at heart. There are old folks who will be up dancing at a party until the very end. I hope that's what I'll be like when I'm 80.
"There's a quote I heard a few years ago that has stuck with me – 'Life may not be the party we hoped for, but while we're here we may as well dance'. I definitely want to be that crazy old lady, who is out there having a good time, surrounded by friends and family, doing a cha-cha with my artificial hip!"
To join or to find out more about Sonia's Strictly You program, visit strictlyyou.com.au

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