For the Pro, Nurture Yourself, Sweat Often

How Simone De La Rue Conquered COVID Anxiety and Kept Her Fitness Empire Intact

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Celebrity trainer Simone De La Rue knows a thing or two about surviving. Coming out of the pandemic with her fitness empire intact, De La Rue learned that transformation is essential–especially as the entire world continues to go through waves of shutdowns while the coronavirus morphs and evolves.

De La Rue created her signature dance-based fitness method, Body By Simone, 10 years ago after retiring from a professional dance career that led her to the stages of Broadway, London’s West End and her native Australia. Her high-energy, cardio-based dance workouts have been a hit with celebrities (she counts Jennifer Garner, Reese Witherspoon and Sandra Bullock among her clients) and non-celebs alike. De La Rue credits part of that success to the joy and empowerment that she and her staff have worked hard to cultivate.

“Exercise is exercise,” says De La Rue. “Any trainer can tell you to do some jumping jacks, but I always wanted to sell a feeling, not a piece of equipment.”

We caught up with De La Rue recently and talked about her winning recipe for fitness, surviving a pandemic through transformation and what appearing on “Revenge Body with Khloé Kardashian” taught her and more. Read on for an edited version of our chat.

Simone De La Rue’s Secrets to Surviving in Fitness and Life

Nutritious Life: How would you describe your unique brand of fitness? And what inspired you to begin your Body By Simone brand?

Simone De La Rue: Ten years ago, I was a professional dancer on Broadway and had an aha! moment when I realized I wanted to take control of my destiny and be able to create something for myself. The seed was planted then.

Suddenly I realized, why not teach anybody to dance? People get intimidated and frightened by dance. Dancing was always my joy, my passion, my love. It was a chance to express myself creatively. I wanted everyone to experience that.

So I decided to take all of the forms of dance and strength training that were part of my life (yoga, pilates, cardio) and all the things that dancers do to keep their bodies in condition to perform eight shows a week, and share it with others.

In the process, I found my clients became very strong. I found women started coming to this one-hour class to release the tensions of their lives. And in that process, they developed their own dancer’s body.

Why do you think your workouts have become so popular that you’ve managed to create an empire around them? What is it about them that appeals to women?

In my studios, I work hard at choosing the people on my team. We create a loving space where women can come in and feel supported. We work hard to make exercise fun and joyous. We don’t take ourselves too seriously. It’s a community that lifts one another up, and in the process of doing these workouts, you might drop a few pounds and gain some muscle. But it was always ultimately about creating a safe space for women to feel empowered.

Since you were a Broadway dancer, the dance cardio part of Body By Simone makes sense. But what about the trampoline? What led you to incorporate that into your brand?

With dance cardio, the impact can be hard on the body, especially after pregnancy. Hip and knee injuries can happen. With trampoline, people can still get their heart rate up while protecting their joints in the process.

Arms, abs, lower body, everything gets a workout on the trampoline. It also forces you to engage your core while getting the blood flowing and draining the lymphatic glands. So there are many advantages to a trampoline workout.

You have a new course out. Tell us about “Transformation From Within” and how and why you created it. Did the pandemic play into this at all?

Simone De La Rue in a green sweater with the hands on her heart center
(Image: Simone de la Rue)

A. I’ve evolved as a person and there were times throughout the pandemic where I thought I was going to lose my business. (All the studios were closed for 18 months and we still had to pay the rent.) I was suffering from depression, anxiety, and stress and I realized that everybody was going through this during the pandemic.

Like I said, exercise has always been about the feeling. During the show “Revenge Body,” people wanted to lose 40, 50, 60 pounds, but it was never about the weight. Everyone knows you shouldn’t eat a whole pizza in one sitting, that you need to drink water, and move your body. But what was stopping people from doing healthy things? I realized there was always a reason, a past trauma, some kind of block.

The weight loss wasn’t happening because they needed to do the inner work first. It’s about changing the patterns and behavior that you learned somewhere along the way, that stopped you from replacing them with good behaviors. It’s about looking yourself in the mirror, really loving what you see, stopping the negative self-talk and transforming it to positive.

What advice do you have for countering the temptations of the holidays? Or countering weight gain this time of year?

Life should be a balance. Health and wellness should be a lifestyle, not a quick fix or fad. People always obsess over the secrets to weight loss and always ask me what I eat. The emotional torture and punishment we inflict on ourselves for eating something sweet, for example, really creates an unhealthy attitude. The focus should be on fueling your body with delicious food so that you have the energy to run and play with your child or to go for a run. We should focus on being present during the holidays and enjoying the moment. As long as you have a healthy attitude towards food and exercise, it’s OK to allow yourself to indulge a little during the holidays

At NL, we like to talk about “indulging consciously.” In other words, there’s no reason for deprivation or moderation if you’re following a healthy lifestyle. And there is room to indulge in a craving from time to time. How do you indulge?

I’m a terrible sweet tooth and I just love chocolate. My mom sends me my favorite chocolate from back home in Australia. My husband buys me chocolate from England. I have it on hand. I enjoy it every day and I don’t punish myself for it. But I also just have one taste and put it away. I won’t eat the whole block in one day.

What encouragement can you give our readers heading into a new year?

My main thing is encouraging women (who are my main audience) to make time for themselves. As busy moms, we’re trying to juggle everything from home right now. I understand that. But you have to believe that you’re worthy, and find time to take care of yourself every day—even if it’s for just 10 minutes. We can’t take care of others if our tanks aren’t full.

Now that we’re easing out of the pandemic, we’ve all told ourselves that this year will be better, but we still have a long way to go. Addiction is up, abuse is up. So, rather than turning to the bottle or food, turn to caring for yourself—and that includes your mental health.

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