Celeb trainer Simone de la Rue on her ‘newfound respect for women’s bodies’ after giving birth20th Jun 19 | Lifestyle
Prudence Wade trials the exercise phenomenon Body by Simone and chats to its founder.
It’s hard not to be a little intimidated when you walk into a Body by Simone class, which seems to be populated only by tall, slim Amazonian women with glossy hair. And yet, the minute founder Simone de la Rue gets on the mic to kick off the workout, all nerves melt away.
She is the powerhouse behind the ‘BBS’ phenomenon, which has swept Australia and America and is now making waves in England.
De la Rue takes the class through a total body workout, a mix of cardio and strength, including the use of dumbbells and bands. What sets it apart from others is the inclusion of dance tracks – a nod to de la Rue’s training as a professional dancer. It’s a sneaky way to slip cardio in – you’re too busy focusing on the steps to realise just how hard you’re working.
What I would say is these routines aren’t for the uninitiated: you’re immediately thrown in the deep end, but you find yourself ‘kick ball changing’ in no time.
Australian-born de la Rue set up the first Body by Simone studio in New York in 2011, and quickly won a legion of celebrity fans. Her workouts are favoured by the likes of Jennifer Garner and Chrissy Teigen, and de la Rue thinks there’s a particular reason why celebs keep coming back to her. “They’re so used to people telling them yes or what they want to hear,” she says, but that’s not something she’ll do – it’s not the Aussie way. It also helps that “Australians are very laid back and have a really great energy,” she explains.
De la Rue is herself upbeat and smiley, cracking jokes and handing out words of encouragement throughout the class . What’s noticeable is her emphasis on form. She’s constantly stopping to show us how to do things properly, which is a rarity in large exercise classes and will seriously reduce the risk of injury.
Other than some fancy footwork, the class is easy to follow and still gets you sweating. “I wanted to create a fun, joyous way of working out,” de la Rue says, “something that could empower women in an ego-free environment.” This I can attest to – I might have felt daunted by the glamazons in sports bras at the beginning of the class, but none of that mattered once we got started.
What’s even more impressive about de la Rue leading the class with such energy is the fact she had a baby just eight weeks earlier by emergency caesarean section. Yet here she is, giving the class her all. This is not to say that women have to immediately be back in shape after giving birth, but you have to admire the sheer physical condition of de la Rue postpartum.
It’s de la Rue’s first child, and she enjoyed her first pregnancy at the age of 44. She was keen to “practise what you preach,” she says, and after getting the OK from her doctor she worked out every day of her pregnancy and even walked to the hospital to give birth. However, the actual birth didn’t quite go to plan.
“The hardest thing for me was I had prepared mentally to have a natural birth,” she says, opening up with trademark Aussie candour. “But then I was in labour for 24 hours, the baby’s heart rate was dropping and he was distressed so I ended up having an emergency C-section.
“That was really tough because my body has always been my tool – especially my core and my abs – and all of a sudden you’ve had major abdominal surgery, you’ve been cut in half, you can’t walk for the first couple of days and you can’t even sit up, so it’s been challenging.”
As someone who’s built her life and business around being active, you can really feel de la Rue’s frustration. When leading the class she couldn’t demonstrate the ab tracks, saying: “Today I wanted to do everything, but I physically can’t.”
Other than a healthy baby boy named Oscar, she says another positive came out of the experience: “A newfound respect for women and women’s bodies.”
She explains: “Before I was the dancer who was always lean and in shape – I was always in a bra top flaunting my abs. Now I understand the cellulite, the stretch marks, peeing your pants when you jump – all these things that mums talk about.”
It’s hard not to respect de la Rue, a businesswoman who built Body by Simone from the ground up. “I didn’t go to business school, I didn’t come from money – this is just a passion project and blood, sweat and tears,” she says. “My first year I was the manager, the bookkeeper, I trained seven hours a day and I cleaned the toilets. I’ve definitely learned a lot of lessons along the way, and it’s definitely made me the woman that I am.”
You can find the UK’s first studio at Body by Simone London, 86-88 Delancey Street, NW1 7SA. Visit bodybysimone.com.
© Press Association 2019