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Denise Austin on How She’s Prepping for Her Daughter’s Wedding + Her Easy At-Home Workout

Denise shares her tried-and-true strategies to look and feel your best!

Fitness icon Denise Austin rose to fame in the ’80s and ’90s serving as an exercise expert on NBC’s Today Show and starring in her classic workout videos. For 40 years, she’s inspired countless women to look and feel their best — and she’s sold more than 24 million fitness videos and DVDs. This spring, she has an extra-special reason to follow her own advice because she’s celebrating something big: her daughter’s wedding! On May 4th, her daughter, fellow fitness-lover, Katie, is getting married — and Denise is overjoyed. Last week, First for Women sat down with Denise to discuss her latest collaborations, what inspires her to stay motivated year after year, how she, her husband Jeff and daughter Kelly are planning for Katie’s wedding and much more. (Stay tuned for her exclusive cover story in First‘s July 1 issue!)

How Denise is getting ready for Katie’s wedding

To gear up for the big day, Denise shared her best tips in the spring issue of her magazine, Fit Over 50: Spring Training, on newsstands now. Inside, Denise writes, “Jeff, Kelly, Katie and I are all looking forward to our special celebration: Katie’s wedding in May! We have been “spring training” together: eating right so we are healthy for the big day, exercising to build stamina so we can dance all night long and enjoying all the little moments leading up to this milestone. Kelly is the maid of honor and she will be leading a meditation sound bath session the morning of (read more on the benefits of sound healing); Jeff is busy working on his speech (and trying not to get too emotional about it!); and Katie and I are redoing my wedding dress so she can wear it to the rehearsal!”

Must-read: Denise Austin Shares Mother of the Bride To-Do Tips, Plus Sweet Throwback Photos With Daughter Katie

Whether you’ve got a big event coming up this spring or are looking for motivation to stick to your wellness goals, keep reading for Denise’s savvy success strategies from the spring issue of Fit Over 50. Then, scroll down for an easy at-home workout she swears by!

Denise Austin
Fit Over 50: Spring Training on newsstands now!Accelerate360 Media

Denise’s stay-motivated strategies

Tip #1: Create attainable goals

Setting objectives that are overly challenging can often lead to frustration and overwhelm you, hindering your progress. Instead, aim for goals that are more realistic. If you’re trying to lose weight, for example, don’t expect to drop 10 pounds in a week when most practitioners recommend losing 1 to 2 pounds a week. By aiming for more accessible aspirations, you’re more likely to reach them and boost your confidence at the same time.

Tip #2: Make an exercise playlist

Whether it’s music, podcasts or an audiobook, a playlist that you listen to only when you exercise is a great motivator. “I like fun, peppy music for fast walks and audiobooks for longer walks,” Denise says. “They really keep me moving and looking forward to getting exercise and entertainment at the same time.”

MUST-READ: Denise Austin On ’80s Nostalgia, Aging, and Her Legacy: “We Need To Bring Fun Back Into Fitness”

Tip #3: Find a Workout Buddy

Denise Austin: Denise and daughter Katie with Denise's wedding dress!
Denise and Katie team up for workouts!Fit Over 50 Magazine

A friend, family member, neighbor, playing partner… so many studies show that when someone is counting on you, you are more likely to do it! Schedule a morning or evening walk, reserve a court for pickle­ ball or tennis, or get a group bike ride or hike on the calendar. All will help keep you motivated and showing up!

Check out Katie and Denise’s 20-minute full-body mother/daughter workout here:

Tip #4: Track your accomplishments

Like putting a gold star on a calendar, marking down when you meet your goal is key to staying motivated. If you are on a weight-loss plan, mark your pounds lost in a weekly journal. Trying to firm up? Write down the inches you have shed. Trying to get to a certain amount of miles walked or weights lifted? Track that! It’ll help you see how far you’ve come.

Tip #5: Try a mini-challenge

It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the thought of a major workout goal, so start with a smaller one first, like one of Denise’s 10-day workout plans. (Visit to learn more!) You will still get many benefits from it, and it can show you how capable you are of taking on bigger challenges!

Tip #6: Lay out your athletic wear the night before

When you wake up, just throw on your clothes and you’ll be ready to do your morning exercises. “It’s a great motivator!” Denise says.

Tip #7: Try food prep

Preparing healthy meals and snacks for the week keeps Denise on track with eating well. Try doing your meal prep on Sundays so the next seven days are set!

Tip #8: Practice positive self-talk

Replace negative words like woulda, coulda and shoulda with a positive outlook and words like can and will. Also, challenge your pessimistic thoughts by visualizing yourself doing the unthinkable. It takes baby steps to reach a goal, but you can do it and you will achieve it!

Tip #9: Stop self-defeating thoughts in their tracks

Forgive yourself if you don’t have a perfect day. A single setback does not mean you can’t still reach your goals. If you miss a workout one day, you can start fresh the next. You’re more likely to abandon your goals if you restrict yourself too much.

Tip #10: Reward yourself

When you do hit your goals, celebrate that success! “I love rewarding myself with a manicure and pedicure, a new workout top or some fresh flowers,” says Denise. These little treats will remind you that you are worth it!

MUST-READ: Fitness Legend Denise Austin Shares Her Passion for Pickleball: “I’m Totally Obsessed!”

Denise’s “7 Days to Wow!” upper body workout

Denise Austin: working out
Fit Over 50 Magazine

“Weight lifting is one of the best age-defying secrets around,” says Denise. “While many aerobic activities help strengthen your muscles (walking and running help develop your leg muscles, for example), the fastest, most effective way to build metabolism-boosting muscle is by lifting weights.”

If you are new to strength training, start out with relatively light weights when the exercise calls for it: 3-pound weights are suggested. (If you are a beginner, you should do the exercises once or twice without weights until you get the hang of them.) When your muscles are no longer challenged, it’s time to switch to a heavier weight. Your goal with each workout is to work your target muscle or muscle group to the point of fatigue — in other words, until you can’t lift any more weights at the end of an exercise.

Must-read: Fitness Experts Reveal the Best Time to Work Out + Easy Hacks That Boost the Benefit of Any Exercise

Strength training workout: Upper body (triceps, chest and abs)

  1. Tricep Kickback
Denise Austin: Tricep Kickback
Fit Over 50 Magazine

Hold a weight in your right hand and stand with your left leg in front of your right, left knee slightly bent. For support, rest your left hand on your left thigh or lean on a chair or bench. Keeping your abs tight and r back flat, raise your right elbow until the upper part of your arm is almost parallel with the floor; keep your elbow in close to your body. Straighten your right arm. Be sure to squeeze your triceps (the back of your arm) as you straighten your arm. Return your right hand to the starting position. Do 8 to 12 reps, then switch sides and repeat. When you’re finished, do another set of 8 to 12 reps on each side, for a total of 2 sets.

2. Tricep Toner

Denise Austin:
Fit Over 50 Magazine

Stand with your abs tight and back straight. Holding a weight in your right hand, raise your right arm so that your hand is directly over your right shoulder. Bend your elbow and lower the weight behind your head, keeping your elbow close to your head. Squeeze the back of your arm as you raise your hand back over your head to the start position. Do 2 sets of 8 to 12 reps. Switch arms and repeat.

3. Tricep Dip

Denise Austin: Tricep Dip
Fit Over 50 Magazine

Place your hands on the edge of a sturdy chair or weight bench, fingers facing toward you, knees bent, feet flat on the floor. Shift your buttocks forward so your bottom is in front of the chair. Bend your elbows to slowly lower your buttocks toward the floor, keeping your back straight and close to the chair. Straighten your arms to lift your buttocks back up to chair height, feeling the workout in the backs of your arms. You can also do this move using the edge of a couch or bed. Repeat 8 to 10 times.

4. Cleavage Enhancer

Denise Austin
Fit Over 50 Magazine

Stand with one foot in front of the other for balance and stability. Lean forward slightly, round your arms, and hold them out to your sides, elbows slightly bent, with a weight in each hand. Then, with control, pull your arms toward one another, crossing the arms in front. Do 2 sets of 8 to 12 reps, resting briefly between each set. Switch legs and repeat.

5. Bustline lift

Denise Austin
Fit Over 50 Magazine

Stand with your feet together, knees bent and back straight. Place your arms in front, shoulder level, with palms facing each other. Quickly, with a pulsing motion, press palms in and apart without actually touching hands together. Do 20 to 25 tiny contractions, pulsing inward.

6. Chest Press

Denise Austin
Fit Over 50 Magazine

Lie on a weight bench or on the floor, with your knees bent and feet flat on the footrest or the ground. Then, holding a weight in each hand, slowly bend your arms so that your elbows are parallel to your shoulders. Push the weights straight up so that your arms are extended directly over your chest, keeping your lower back pressed firmly into the bench. Avoid locking your elbows at the top of the movement. Slowly lower to the starting position. Do 2 sets of 8 to 12 reps, resting briefly between sets.

7. Ab Crunch

Denise Austin: Tricep Dip
Fit Over 50 Magazine

Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet on the floor. Rest your head in your hands, keeping your neck and shoulders relaxed. Press your lower back firmly into the floor; there should be no arch in your back at all. Exhale as you contract your abdominals to slowly lift your shoulders and feet off the floor; focus on pressing your belly button toward your spine. This is a very small, controlled movement. Slowly lower your shoulders and feet to the floor. Do 2 sets of 8 to 12 reps, resting briefly between each. (If you have neck problems, use a towel instead of your hands to hold your head.)

8. Lower-Tummy Tightener

Denise Austin
Fit Over 50 Magazine

Lie on your back and place your hands, palms down, just beneath your buttocks. This allows you to keep your lower back flat on the floor during the exercise. Lift your legs off the floor, bend them slightly and cross your ankles. Exhale as you contract your abs to lift your bent knees toward your chest. Your knees should stay bent at the same angle through- out the entire exercise. Lower your legs slightly back down and repeat. This is a very short range of movement; your tailbone should lift off the floor only 3 to 5 inches. Do 2 sets of 8 to 12 reps, resting briefly between each set. (If you have back problems, place a pillow under your lower back for comfort.)

9. Oblique Curl

Denise Austin
Fit Over 50 Magazine

Lie on the floor on your right side with knees bent. Keep your back straight. There should be no arch in your back at all. Place your left hand out to the side and your right hand behind your head for support. Exhale as you lift your right shoulder blade off the floor and tighten the sides of your waistline. Relax as you lower back to the floor. Slower is better. Do 2 sets of 8 to 12 reps, resting briefly between each set. Switch sides and repeat.

For more feel-good tips on health and fitness, check out these stories:

The Best Way to Speed an Over-50 Metabolism? Denise Austin’s Strength Training Routine for Beginners

Hate Exercising? Denise Austin’s ‘Fidget-cises’ Make Fitness Easy (and Fun)

Try This 90-Second Squat Challenge + How the Results Can Boost Your Posture and Balance

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