AIB Featured Business Leader – Michelle Bridges
If you’ve ever worried about your expanding waistline, or cheered on the contestants in Channel Ten’s ratings hit The Biggest Loser, Michelle Bridges will need no introduction.
Australia’s most popular personal trainer became a household name in her role as the straight-talking red team trainer on The Biggest Loser, which she joined in 2007. The huge response from women all over the country wanting to hire Bridges as their personal trainer led her to develop an online program that everyone could access. That program is called the Michelle Bridges 12 Week Body Transformation, and since its inception in 2010, has helped participants shed over one million kilos.
Part of Bridges’ success can be traced to her single-minded passion for personal fitness, a passion which characterised her even during childhood. Bridges remembers that at 14, she persuaded her headmistress to let her teach fitness classes to schoolmates who didn’t play sport. At 18 and now out of school, she trained as a fitness instructor while working in a bank, and became a full time fitness instructor by 21. At 25, she discovered the Les Mills system, a global business developed around fitness-to-music, and joined the company as a trainer and lecturer. Her industry credibility spiraled ever upwards, and in 2001, she opened her own health club in Balmain with her then-fianc Bill Moore.
It wasn’t just her passion for exercise that got her into the big time, though – Bridges was determined to increase her visibility and made it a personal mission to break into television. When she realised that Kerri-Anne Kennerley trained in the same gym as she did herself, she “chased her around the health club until she said okay” to Bridges hosting a fitness segment on the Nine Network’s morning show. Viewers loved her, she was signed on as a regular contributor, and her profile soared. In 2004 she was named Australian Fitness Leader of the Year. When The Biggest Loser started a couple of years later, Bridges was the obvious choice to join their team: media-friendly and knowledgeable with tons of personality, she commenced on the show in 2007 and has never looked back.
Her popularity soared, with people all over Australia wanting Bridges to be their personal trainer. In respond to a demand that she couldn’t possibly fulfil in person, she launched the 12 Week Body Transformation. Delivered entirely online, the program began in 2010 and has since gone global. The program has harnessed social media marketing for its own good, with Bridges’ personal Twitter and Instagram accounts acting as ambassadors for the brand. Members are encouraged to tag #12WBT with their own inspirational pictures, creating a sense of community that extends beyond the original forum. The program is optimised for mobile and tablet, so that participants can check in ‘on the go’, and that flexibility is key to its success.
Somehow, she’s also found time to expand her brand with a number of other fitness products. She’s published 12 bestselling books on weight loss and exercise, and regularly features in publications including Women’s Health, Prevention, Woman’s Day, New Idea & The Australian Women’s Weekly. She has partnered with Big W to produce her own clothing and workout equipment range MB Active. In contrast to other sportswear lines and in acknowledgement of her experiences on The Biggest Loser, MB Active goes up to a size 26, which Bridges notes as something to be proud of. She’s also launched a healthy eating line, Delicious Nutritious, in conjunction with Woolworths. But she’s clear about the dangers of over-extending, and is adamant that her brand stays firmly within the health and fitness arena. “I’m not intrinsically a business person who has decided to put businesses together to be financially viable” she says. “This has come from my heart”.
For someone who doesn’t consider themselves a business person, Bridges certainly displays an acumen and stamina that far surpasses many. Recently back in the news when she posted Instagram photographs of herself jogging two weeks after the birth of her son, she’s determined not to let motherhood slow her down.
To that end, we are excited to share that Michelle Bridges will be joining us as guest speaker at the AIB Sydney Alumni Event on March 3. For more information, email your interest to email@example.com.
This article was written by Tanya Ashworth-Keppel on behalf of the Australian Institute of Business. All opinions are that of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of AIB.
Image credit: news.com.au