This week we interviewed the beautiful and inspirational US fitness trainer Suzanne Bowen. Suzanne founded SBf (Suzanne Bowen Fitness) more than 12 years ago, and created BarreAmped, an internationally taught barre technique as well as Seren Motus, a mind-boy alignment method. Suzanne is also the creator of numerous top selling online classes and fitness DVD’s, including SBF Slim & Toned Prenatal Barre

Suzanne is a mother to 9 year old daughter Salome, and her son, Natal, who is 5 years’ old. She is married to New Zealander Levi, the first winner of the reality show, ‘Treasure Island’. 

You’re a huge inspiration to many women. Tell us a bit about why you developed such a passion for fitness, and how your career has developed over the years?

Ah, thank you! It’s humbling to be able to speak fitness and balance into women’s lives. I think the passion for movement became apparent when I would start training my friends who were working out with me at the gym. I found myself only wanting to look at fitness publications and all my pastimes included something to do with exercise. I wouldn’t miss a workout! After my career with United Airlines ended following 9/11, I was forced to put into action everything I had studied and learned by auditioning and landing an apprentice position at the Lotte Berk Method, the original barre studio in the US. The rest is history and I pinch myself when I look back!

What’s your favourite family recipe?

This is tough for me. I don’t really have one. I am thinking for many reasons, I should include a smoothie recipe we can make for any meal. I am not going to say that because they are made with super foods or packed with nutrients, though they are! Rather, these shakes can be made anytime and are easy and my entire family loves them!

  • 1 cup organic blueberries
  • 1 cup organic raspberries
  • 1/2 cup pineapple
  • 1-2 stalks organic kale
  • Handful of organic spinach
  • 4 TBS hemp seeds
  • 2 TBS coconut oil
  • 1 cup unsweetened organic kefir
  • 1 organic beet root (any color)
  • 1 raw organic carrot (skin on!)
  • Stevia to taste
  • 2 tsp Matcha green tea **optional
  • Water to the edge of the frozen produce
  • Ice to taste
  • Blend until smooth.

Do you ever have days where you find it hard to get motivated, and what do you do for a kick-start?

Of course! I have way too much to do often as I run my companies, keep house and home school our daughter since we travel so much! I am also a perpetual student.

I often will turn to any type of green tea to give me a little edge and motivation if I am dragging. It doesn’t have much caffeine but does have enough to feel a bit awake! And it’s packed with nutrients. It is the perfect motivator to sit, enjoy, and then do whatever it is that I am putting off. Like my very own workouts!

How difficult was it to shed baby weight, and how soon after the birth of your two children were you able to get back into a full fitness regime?

Baby weight wasn’t too difficult for me because I didn’t put pressure on myself. I gained the right amount of weight with both children but I didn’t lose my last five pounds until I weaned both at eleven and nine months. My body just held on to that layer I suppose so I could continue to breastfeed. As soon as I weaned the children, I slimmed down completely. However, my body had changed. And that is what I want to help other mothers understand!

Bodies look a little different post baby and since no one is perfect, it is important to be your fittest, look your best but lose the ideals of perfection.

My full fitness regime began at six weeks. Though I did no-to-very low impact for one year postpartum in order to allow my body to return to pre-pregnancy state.

What three pieces of advice would you give to mothers with hectic lifestyles that are finding it hard to establish and maintain a healthy diet and fitness regime?

First is lighten up on the perfectionism. It’s hard having children and doing anything else! But with that advice, don’t give up! Find a balance by finding a workout and eating plan that is doable and rewarding. It’s not all or nothing. It’s a journey that is worth traveling.

Plan ahead. Don’t get caught not having anything healthy to eat in the house or while out. Fill up on nutrient dense foods and leave the junk food for special occasions (or not at all – though I admit I ate some chocolate today!).

Last, understand that unless you are extremely lucky, an hour-long daily yoga class might not be in your cards right now. For now, you can find short, intense workouts that only take 10-15 minutes. Do one to four of those throughout the day. Not only will you get your workout in, but also you will benefit from connecting the mind to the body and enjoying those endorphins to help you fight fatigue and feel energised.

What’s your guilty pleasure when it comes to food, and how often do you allow yourself to indulge?

CHAMPAGNE! Wait, that isn’t a food… I have very dry sparkling wine a couple times a week. If it’s food, I would say Indian food. It’s pretty full on fattening… and delicious. Spicy Vegetable Tikka Masala is my favorite meal.

What was the hardest part about becoming a mother and what tips can you offer to our readers who are expecting?

The hardest part of becoming a mother was the loss of my independence. All of a sudden I had a tiny baby girl who was completely dependent on me. While it was hard, it was also so rewarding. I think the best advice I can give to anyone embarking on motherhood is that those early months where you lose tremendous amounts of sleep to the toddler years where you are running around trying to let your child explore without getting into things all goes so quickly. Try to be in the moment and enjoy each stage because they don’t last forever. Though I am insanely busy as a working mum, I also find my children much easier now than they were in those younger years!

Do your children enjoy healthy eating, and do you have any tips on encouraging good eating habits in kids?

Yes, my kids do enjoy healthful foods because they have always been given them and what we fix for dinner is what they eat. We don’t cater to their desires by feeding them “kid’s meals” all the time. My daughter has been easier than my son. He would eat bread and fruit all day long if we let him.

I have three very good tips that have worked over the years:

1) Invest in the best blender you can afford. Make sure it is high powered and will pulverize foods like carrots, spinach and kale. Follow a superfood smoothie like my favorite recipe and let them add the ingredients. They will realise those foods taste good! I always tell my son his veggies give him muscles and help him see in the dark.

2) Make sure you try new foods when they are hungry. I take my kids to gymnastics twice a week and I give them broccoli, which my son usually hates. He laps it up now because he was ravenous when he tried it for the 20th time!

3) Give them dips. Make some healthy dips like hummus or yogurt dip and let them dip carrots or lettuce in the dips rather then putting bland raw foods on a plate. Works every time!

What’s the one baby product you couldn’t have lived without?

The one baby product I could never live without in hindsight is a cradle swing. I didn’t have one with my daughter and I got by without it but I did have one with my son and now it’s the gift I buy all my friends who are having babies. I would actually get six hours of sleep some nights when my son was an infant because it would keep him upright and swing him gently side to side. Amazing!

How would you sum yourself up in one sentence?

Haha! Fiercely driven fitness trainer who wants women free from the ideals of perfection!