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This program is live captioned by Ericsson Access Services. Hello, I'm Norman Swan. I've known fitness expert Michelle
Bridges for about six years now in my role as medical host of the
sometimes controversial reality show Biggest Loser. In that time I've seen Michelle go
from being just one of the trainers to a huge national profile with a highly successful
weight loss and fitness business. She's also made headlines with
a new relationship and now a baby. What I've discovered about Michelle
is that she's really serious about tackling Australia's
obesity crisis, and with Michelle,
what you see is what you get. This is her story.

Right, so, next we've got
Fitzy & Wippa at Nova and then we're heading out to... WSFM. It's not even 7 o'clock yet and I've already missed an
interview and lost my phone. Whoo! It's a good start to the day. We actually nicknamed this week
as the week from hell, and obviously doing that with
a newborn is not easy. We have a publicity itinerary
that goes for, Heidi, I notice... 20 pages.

When I fell pregnant,
I was writing a book and we knew that the book
was going to come out at the beginning of the year
right after I just had a baby, so we were like... How is this all going to work? Michelle Bridges,
welcome to the showwwwwwww!! Oh, Michelle's schedule
is absolutely crazy. Maternity leave has not
exactly been maternity leave. Michelle, how does it make you feel
when you've helped Australians lose a staggering one
and a half million kilos? I've always felt, like, in my own
way, I was making a difference... Her adage is to bite off all that
you can chew and chew down hard. And her winning formula is
'I don't need anybody, I can do it.' Yes, I signed every
single one of these. In 2015, Michelle Bridges made the BRW list of Australia's
richest self-made women.

I've been going hell for leather
for over a decade now, and it's time for me
to have this moment. It's been a pretty exhausting day;
I've been up since 4.45. Got through about
12 or 13 interviews.

(whispers): Asleep. Axel coming into this world
has definitely brought out another side of Michelle. I don't know if at this point
she's changing her priorities, but she's definitely asking
more questions of herself. I guess if others have
used the word 'driven', it's probably pretty
accurate, really. Like, I am. But I don't see that
as a negative thing. I love what I do. It's been what I've dreamed of
doing since I was a child. So why wouldn't I be driven?

I don't understand why you feel like you've gotta play
the joker in this house. Why you feel like you've gotta
play the smartarse in this house. It's earning you no favours... For The Biggest Loser, I always saw
Michelle as a hard arse trainer. ...15 people that walk out that gate Go and get 'em!
Go and get 'em, and get 'em to... She would push her contestants. You wanted to come in
to make a change. We're making one. But she would give them reason
and understanding for her methods. Our next guest is not only Australia's most influential
health and fitness expert; she's now a mum. Michelle joins us now.
A big round of applause for her... The level of success and notoriety and fame I guess that she's managed
to achieve is quite amazing. Just... fricking do it. And so hard to believe
that a little girl from a very ordinary background... ...and where I'm going;
what I'm trying to achieve. ..and nothing,
not one thing handed to her, could achieve and do
what she's done in life. Newcastle, 100 miles
north of Sydney, is Australia's 7th largest city... I was born and bred in Newcastle,
Waratah Children's Hospital. Just down the road from Kmart. We were definitely
a working class family. My parents unfortunately divorced
when I was around 4. I would definitely say that I was
raised by my mum as a single woman. I was cleaning houses
to get some extra income. But it was quite tricky
when I had the girls sick, and your boss would say,
'well you've got to turn up 'regardless of what's
going on at home.' Michelle sort of used
her mother as an example about how things could be and what she could do
with her own life. There was definitely not
a lot of money around. As I only had one uniform
for Michelle it was a case of wash it each night, hang it on a little inside line,
get the next morning and iron it so she had
a clean uniform each day. Yeah. And then when my parents split up,
we then moved to Barraba, a few hours northwest of Tamworth. She had to start a new school and
she came home one day very upset because the kids there said
she didn't have a father, she didn't have a daddy. But it wasn't that long after that
she comes home, she's class captain. I was seeing my dad kind of every
second weekend or thereabouts. There were arguments, you know,
mum and dad would fight. And I do distinctly
remember one morning, I could hear them
arguing on the phone. I was like, 'oh my God, you guys!' And, so, he upset me
so much I started to cry, and Michelle was in the bedroom
and heard it, and she got out of bed and she
snapped the phone off my hand and she said,
'listen dad, piss off!' I look back on that time
and I kind of think both my parents were witnessing me becoming that
person that's no nonsense and let's just get on with it and I
don't have time to have an argument. Come on, just,
get it together and let's go.

We ended up moving several times, which had an impact on my schooling because, more often than not,
I was the new kid. I'm sure everybody has suffered
a little bit of bullying at school. I remember having my schoolbag completely and utterly ripped to
shreds all over the quadrangle, and everybody found it great sport.

It's quite funny in a sense how
there's so many similarities between Michelle and myself,
at very similar stages in life. I know in my own personal life
what It's like to be bullied, what It's like to feel shame. It's part of growing up. I remember one guy in particular,
and I used to joke about it, I was his walking,
talking punching bag. For whatever reason,
he just honed in on me. Maybe he considered me as different or I was able to do things
that he was unable to do so he would take it out
in a physical way on me. I used it as a catalyst
to self-improve. In my mind,
it was like 'I'll prove you wrong.'

My sport was definitely a way
that I could deal with either being the new kid or being
pushed around and being bullied. I could have my time to shine
and I could go to a place where I just felt... It was almost like I was free. Like I was in my zone.

I could see Michelle
looking for a direction. Sporting did that for her. She enjoyed that,
it gave her a place to be. She wanted to be with sporty people where she could be challenged, self-challenged and also
be challenged by others.

I fell in love with the competition
but I equally fell in love with the commitment and the
discipline of the training aspect.

So it was when I was at school,
in Nelson Bay, that I could see there were
kids on a Wednesday afternoon, when we were playing sport,
that chose not to be a part of it. And I thought,
'they're missing out.' So I went to my school mistress
and said, 'I can teach fitness to those kids.' This was my first pitch
into the business world. And she gave me the green light. Are you ready to do the work out? And of course, from that point, I thought I was just like
the next Jane Fonda. So I took myself off to the local
squash court in Nelson Bay, and said to them,
'I can teach fitness classes.' And they let me loose
on the general public. She had her little cassette player
and she made up the moves. And the first class
she got about 4 or 5 people, and in the next class
she had a few more. So I guess it was around
those years of 14, 15, 16 that I realised I'd
found my passion. I'd found something
that just made me feel, this is what I want to do
with the rest of my life.

A big turning point for me, something quite dramatic in my
life happened when I was 18, we moved to Taree.

And I took Michelle and I drove
into Taree to do some shopping. And she said to me, 'alright mum,
well I'll go looking for a job.'

I was actually just looking
for a part time job and I went for an off-the-cuff
interview at a restaurant, and the next thing I know
the guy was attacking me and... basically trying to rape me. And in my head I thought,
this is just not going to happen, this is not going to happen. This is not my story. I absolutely fought back with
everything that I had. I got out. I ran all the way to
the police station. She really amazed me. Most young girls would be,
just, a crying wreck and I probably would have been. But, no, she was strong
and determined and said, 'and mum he wasn't
getting my handbag either, 'I grabbed that as well.'

So it ended up that
the man went to prison. I saw a psychologist and
then in the end I realised I can't carry this thing
around because if I do, it means that he still has control. So I had to, at some point,
let it go.

I moved out at 18 and
had this job at a bank. Did I hate the job? Yeah, I hated it. So I went back, started teaching classes on the
weekends or in the evenings. Even got into body building. I thought, I think you can do a
little better than that look. Stay in fitness, sure, but
maybe not that type of fitness. That real muscly look. I guess it was around the age of 26 that I knew it was time
for me to get serious.

Michelle packed up her
sports girl Holden Barina with everything she owned and she had a little bit
of money in the bank and drove to Sydney with a
goal to set up her career.

My ambition, my burning desire was to really become a part
of the fitness industry, and have it as a full time career. I had a health club in Balmain. Michelle, at that stage,
she was hungry, she was very ambitious. As a fitness instructor,
she was phenomenal. I thought, wow, this girl
has got some stuff going on. And I saw her and I said,
'wow, your legs look amazing.' She told me some
years afterwards that the moment I said that, she instantly compartmentalised
me into 'dickhead'.

Well a bit of romance started to
happen, I guess, in sort of '99. We got married in 2003. Let's do it... A big milestone in my career
was becoming a trainer for one of the most successful
companies in the world when it comes to exercise
programming. Alright, halfway down the leg.
Dead row. Halfway... And they sent me
all over Australia. And then they started
sending me global. It should be harder.
Here. It should be. The moment she got herself
in a position of notoriety within her own industry, she was looking to
expand that outside because she had this vision
of getting Australia moving. I could see that my industry,
the fitness industry, wasn't making a dent in this
obesity epidemic that was coming. I need to get this message out to
people who haven't heard it before. APPLAUSE
Thankyou, thankyou. One and all. Now, if you find yourself snacking
on a bit of junk food... And that's when I sort of thought
maybe television is an opportunity to get that message out. Morning fitness consultant,
Michelle Bridges. Michelle, how are you? Good morning.
I'm very well, thank.... And Kerri-Anne Kennerley was
one of the participants in one of my classes. So I chased her around the gym
with my idea, ad nauseam. She knew I had the program and said, 'I'd like to do fitness.' And I said, 'ok... 'fitness doesn't always
work on television.' You can exercise anytime, anywhere! But she was ambitious which is
a quality I particularly liked. Michelle wanted to be a star. Michelle 'got' fitness. Go! That was her expertise,
she knew how to deliver it, and that made her a star. We got some big Aussies up there. Yup! My name is Bob Harper... In 2005, when The Biggest Loser
first screened in Australia, it had two American trainers. We sat down to watch it, and within
the first few minutes she said, 'I can do that job.' Are you a member of my Red Team?
ALL: Yes! She was almost desperate
to get that show. She just felt so strongly
that she was able to do that. Because I knew
I could damn well do it good. Oh, Michelle wanted... she wanted Biggest Loser bad. My name is Michelle Bridges,
I'm a personal trainer and I've been in the industry
for about 18 years. The Biggest Loser
is about, basically, taking on contestants who
are obese, morbidly obese, and working with them 24/7 to,
not just lose their weight, but understand their lifestyles and what's led them to be in a
situation that they're in right now. How dare she, like, have to feel that she has to
humiliate me to work harder. Now you can start to get angry
about those Mars Bars, Honey. I think when they
first cast for that show, they were looking for someone
who was a bit of a ballbreaker, there's no doubt about that. Get 'em up. Get 'em up... If you want to go in there
and go hard with food... fine, here's your training
session to match it. Ten to go! When they start to shed all
that extra and excess baggage then suddenly their self-belief rise and this person that's
always been there has a moment, or a time, to shine. And that for me
is really why I do it. I've never been able to do
a chin-up in my life, and somehow I pulled out 10. 10, good job! And the crowd is cheering. We have all sorts of
critics that will say, 'you're putting these people
up to be insulted or laughed at 'or made the butt of a joke.' I think it might be seen that
I have this agenda on people who are overweight or
people who are deemed fat. Honestly, if you are happy where you
are, genuinely, more power to you. But I can tell you now; I'm yet to meet someone who is
morbidly obese and happy. I guess you guys are wondering
why I'm here. Yeah! I am now, officially, your trainer. I was 158.6 kilos. I know she was very tough. Come on boys!
Dig in now! Lets go!
Last chance training! Our first training
session with Michelle, I didn't think I was going
to make it through. She pushed us mentally as well. Keep going, keep that momentum up... I think she was
very empathetic to us. She'd come in on the weekends,
on her own time, to help train all the contestants. That's why you're doing this. Yeah, that's why I'm doing this.
Absolutely. We've all lost a tremendous
amount of weight. I've lost 59 kilos
and managed to keep it off. Alright.
You know what to do, yeah? Crunchers! Ice skaters! As I guess her notoriety
was increasing, I could see there was
an opportunity there, a business opportunity, for an inspirational
female role model. Let's get busy! Alright, let's get some music on! I'm proud to say that the
clothing line that I now produce is affordable and
goes up to size 26. It kind of just grew and grew. Check this out!
It's amazing! So many people would come to
Michelle and say to her, 'oh, can you train me?' But of course it was completely
unscalable and unmanageable. The idea of doing something online
was a really critical one. And it was an incredible success
from the very beginning. Hi, I'm Michelle Bridges, I hope to
transform as many lives as possible, to train, to educate
and to inspire... Every year BRW publishes a list of the wealthiest self-made
women in Australia. And with the rising profile
of Michelle Bridges we thought she was
worth having a look at. And in 2015 she made the cut, 29th richest self-made
lady in Australia, wealth we estimate
of about $53 million. I mean, it wasn't true,
but it damaged us. It damaged Michelle's reputation. I think people were then starting to
look at Michelle as just being someone who was
a money making machine. ...you and you're beautiful family. So the feedback we've been
getting from sales is really strong. We don't know yet whether we're
a best seller, but I believe... I look around and think, holy moley,
how did this really all happen? There's a lot of people
in my industry who applaud what I have done and there's a few in there
that look at me and go... 'how?' But that's ok. ...got to bed.
What's the point? Sleeping is overrated.
Let's be honest. Her and Bill were
a great partnership. I don't think children
were on the table at the time. The career and the business and making a difference was
the subject and the issue. It was everywhere,
it was omnipresent and inevitably our relationship
was suffering from it. And really, in hindsight, we probably both chose the
business over the relationship. Maybe that was the baby
that we didn't have.

We both ended up feeling we were
living with our business partners. We've got a great energy here... Bill and I spoke about it
a good 18 months, before I decided finally to separate That was a very difficult time. I felt that I didn't want to
leave the relationship; I didn't want it to end but Michelle, for her,
she wasn't in the same space. My name's Steve Willis. I'm an ex-army commando. Place your bags down
in front of you. When I first met him
he was pretty much straight out of the army, virtually, so he was very intense back then. And I remember thinking,
who is this guy?

For a long time, making season
after season of The Biggest Loser, we were just friends... It was more of a communication
connection that, I think, drew us
together in that sense, rather than anything physical.

The thing about Michelle
that got my attention was her willingness to listen. And you could sit for minutes, you know, hours, and just talk, and she would be just
like a sounding board. We both came together at a time
when we were both pretty raw and in a place of, wow, what's
happening to our relationships? Steve has 3 beautiful children. They're in my life
and I'm in theirs. Gosh, when it was identified that Michelle and I were in a
relationship, it was... Man, the paparazzi! And, just... Stories!

And we were trying to
get to know each other... (laughs) Just go out on a date... and we'd have cameras everywhere,
which was pretty full on.

I understand how the whole
media thing works but I truly believe there could be
a lot more respect shown when it comes to my children. The gossip stuff is fodder. She is now a nationally known
person which means her life, for good, bad or ugly
is always gonna be out there. And of course a special
congratulations to Michelle and Commando
with your baby on the way.

Michelle and I have had
conversations around parenthood and whether she would
ever become a parent. That's going to be one healthy baby. Or, if She'd let it go too long. Was the time right? How would a child fit in
the mix of her business? It absolutely just felt right,
for the first time in my 44 years, it absolutely felt right.

I was being interviewed and I did say that I feel like all
my years of looking after myself and looking after my health has definitely been
a contributing factor in falling pregnant at 44. And I got myself in a large
amount of hot water by saying that. So then of course I copped a
fairly large amount of heat because I was exercising
while I was pregnant. Weight loss queen Michelle Bridges has been slammed over
her latest training regime... Then it was, I guess, another
onslaught of heat that came about because of my training
after Axel was born. Which includes a half hour jog
and 24 minutes of walking, just weeks after giving
birth to son, Axel.

But I was going at
the right level for me, myself, a person who has been
training since she was 14. There is absolutely no way
that I would ever put myself or my child in any kind of danger
by doing something ridiculous.

It never entered my head that she
would have a baby, it just didn't. By that stage, at 40, I thought,
no, she's a career girl.

You gonna help me pack?

He's smiling now, making little
noises and carrying on. That's amazing. Putting his pants on front
of the camera. Hey... Having a child has been the best
thing I think I've ever done and I've done a lot. You start thinking about
family and family members and what's happened in the past. I don't really have a
relationship with my dad. I haven't really had one
with him for... gosh, some years.

My dad would now know
that I've had a baby and that he's got a grandson. So I think, gosh, should I
introduce Axel to him? And that probably would be
a really nice thing to do. Just... I don't know how that one will roll.
I haven't... I've thought about it,
that's about as far as I've got.

Having Axel has really
made me think more about how I can use what I've learnt
about health and fitness to make life better
for kids like him. Potentially getting
out there and putting some truth and hard-hitting messages
around the junk food industry and the sugar industry. And the truth of the matter is they sell crap food
and make people sick, and that makes me angry.

I'd like to tackle
the junk food industry the way the tobacco industry
was tackled 50-odd years ago. We're now seeing children
that, potentially, have a lifespan shorter
than their parents. Never before have we
ever seen that, globally. We're now seeing it. Why? I'd like to get out there
and start fighting the fight for others who can't fight the fight

I think she really wants to
put some more time into Axel and just watching that
mother-child relationship flourish in that sense. Maybe take the foot off
the pedal a little bit.

Yeah, I slowed down a bit. My version of slowing down!

It's easy for me
to say no to things now, because he is, without a doubt,
the most important thing. And it will work out.
It'll just... We'll make it work.

All the way down.
Three quarters up. That's it. Force the
breath in every time. Joey knows all my
favourite exercises. But, but,
and more but. Five, six...
Gotta get ten. Seven... Pushing forward
straight through your hands. Good mish.
Touch and drive. Beautiful.
How many are we up to? Twelve.
Good, three to go. Touch, up, three. Touch, up, two. Six. That's the girl.
Let's dig in. Big push...
Seven. Baba! Baba! Why couldn't you have woken up
halfway through the session and got mummy out of it? (laughs)

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