En español l Denise Austin's voice on the phone is just as vibrant and full of inspiration as it is on her workout videos. It's that same cheerleader-like you-can-do-it enthusiasm that has helped make her a legend in the fitness industry for 30-plus years.
A former college gymnast, she burst into the national consciousness in the early 1980s as cohost of the long-running Jack LaLanne Show. But it was the California native's own popular TV programs, such as Getting Fit With Denise Austin, and a collection of workout DVDs that cemented her status as a fitness star.
Austin, 61, isn't slowing down a bit. She launched the 360° Plan at deniseaustin.com, a 10-week online fitness program replete with recipes, workouts and Austin-style motivational tips. And now, she's the face of fitness for AARP.
"People still feel my tummy. It's rock hard!" says Austin, who lives with her husband and two daughters in Alexandria, Va. "I am blessed to be in good health."
Here, she shares her top tips for getting in the best shape of your life after age 50.
"It's all about establishing a routine. Squeeze in just 10 minutes to move, and then add five minutes the next time. If you just do that, you'll see a huge difference."
2. Shake things up
"I'm a big believer in mixing up your routine. I do [ballet-inspired exercises at the] barre, yoga, cardio, high-intensity circuits. I like intervals. I will turn a walk into a workout. For example, I walk for five minutes at an easy pace, then power-walk for two minutes and repeat. Intervals blast the fat."
3. Find the joy in getting healthy
"I'm motivated because I love what I do. It's positive. Helping people keeps me going."
4. Be consistent
"I'm just like everyone else — I'd rather sit on the couch and eat doughnuts. But I exercise to feel good, and I know how I feel when I don't. I only work out for 30 minutes, but I do it almost every day. Consistency is key."
5. Try new music
"I have daughters who are really into mixing it up for me. It's very eclectic — from Drake to Bruce Springsteen. I love "What a Wonderful World" to stretch to. Music helps motivate people and makes it fun."
6. Eat well 80 percent of the time
"I'm into eating whole foods. I don't starve myself, and I don't think other people should either. But I give myself "cheat meals" 20 percent of the time. It's about balance. If I do indulge, it might be on a glass of red wine or dessert if I'm out. And I love Mexican food."
7. Keep superfoods on hand — and banish the junk
"Foods I'll always have in my kitchen are parsley [high in vitamin C], quinoa [a high-protein whole grain], walnuts [good for heart health], olive oil and avocados [both are healthy fats]. I try not to have junk food in my kitchen at all, or I will see it and eat it. My favorite is ice cream, so when I really want it, we walk to the ice cream shop and get either a scoop of coffee ice cream, gelato or frozen yogurt. That way it's perfectly portioned, unlike a carton of ice cream, which I could down in one sitting while mindlessly watching TV. I also usually have a dark-chocolate bar handy for a sweet-tooth attack — but a healthy one that is high in antioxidants and at least 70 percent real cocoa."
Stacy Julien is executive online health editor for the AARP Health Channel.