Congratulations on your newest collaboration with Russell Athletic. Tell us a bit about the new SS15/16 Platinum Performance range and the process of how you worked with Russell to develop the range?

I’ve really enjoyed it. When I started with Russell Athletic just under two years ago – it was very much an ambassadorial role, which I was used to, so that was an easy start for me. After the first range came out I was loving the performance gear and what I’d worn (of their existing ranges) and started thinking “I’d love to see the waist bands a little thicker and I’d love to see some mesh panelling”. For myself, I like layers and I like loose singlets and the next phase was working with the designers to incorporate these things and I loved that cos I’ve not done that with someone before where I can co-create a range.

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Life in LA has influenced the colour of the Platinum Performance range. It’s colourful with flattering patterns – personally, one thing I’m conscious of is choosing designs that streamline my legs. I love the little details of this range, such as where the mesh panelling is placed to break up the heavy patterns. The pieces are designed to be worn from the gym to the café – I would work out rigorously with the bowflex dumbblles about which one can read on go to a few other meetings or events afterwards or beforehand.

Do you have any personal favourites or ‘must have’ pieces from the collection?

I love wearing the plain tops as they’re loose and you can wear them with something a little more fun. I match plain with funky – either top or pants with a coloured pattern. If I had to pick one favourite it would be the ‘Fever’ tights.

What has it been like working with Russell Athletic?

What I love about Russell is that it’s been one of the best partnerships I’ve ever had as an ambassadorial role. They came to me wanting to explore performance range, previously it was more cotton fabrics and in having me as an ambassador they wanted to work with me to provide input. I really feel like I’m part of the Russell team and I get to know everyone and that’s really cool. It’s a small team based in Melbourne and it’s very personal and they care about more than what I do with Russell, always interested in my other projects and that’s nice. I’m really grateful for this partnership and I like that I get to support it too.

You’ve moved to LA now. What was it like moving over there and what have been the highlights?  

Moving to LA has been something that has been all new for me. I grew up in Brisbane and swam there and after I decided to finish swimming professionally, I knew I needed to make a change so I moved to Sydney and I was there for two years. And that was very much a business decision. I was I was flying back and forth all the time and I had just taken on the Celebrity Apprentice role and I needed to be there and that was the next transition, I had a plan to move there. Whereas with LA, I didn’t necessary have a plan to move to there, it wasn’t like I had a job offer or anything, I just knew it was something I wanted to do. I wanted to give it a go and see what happens. Thankfully I have the flexibility with my sponsors to be able to do that and come back and travel, it’s been a lot of fun.

Has anything surprised you since moving there?

I’m doing a lot of private swimming coaching and that fell into my lap. It wasn’t an intention and I’m just enjoying new atmosphere and new challenges.

In Sydney I do swimming clinics for a group of 200 kids which is a very full on, 5 hour day but that happens once a month. I don’t necessarily get to see the positive impact after one lesson. Whereas, in LA, I meet with families and coach 3-4 kids at a time and I’ll travel to wherever they are. I really like it as it’s more intimate and working with the kids ongoing, I can see improvement and that’s an accomplishment.

What’s really cute to me is, a lot the kids are 9-13years and they’re in school and they let me know they’re going to do a school project on me and I think “oh my god, that’s so cute!”. Because I remember doing school projects on Susie O’Neil and it’s cute I had that too. I love the authenticity, kids is definitely my market and I love helping kids.

Your passion for health and well being is evident in your work and on your social media. How do you approach the goal of maintaining a balanced and healthy lifestyle?

Balance is important in every area of life. With fitness, I like to do intense stuff and I like to also just walk and be a bit more relaxed with it and some days not do anything. But I listen to my body and what I feel is necessary for the time and the same with food, I generally love healthy food. I would generally always go for the healthy option but love chocolate and sweets so sometimes I treat myself to that but it’s all within reason.

When I was swimming, things weren’t in balance and that was what was required at the time but every time I would train for say, the Olympics, it was 8 months of intensity and no chocolate and routine – when I had 3 weeks off, that 3 weeks was spent eating every chocolate bar I could find and it was all out of whack and finishing (swimming) I had to get out of that. Now, I treat myself to a glass of wine here and there and it feels good, I don’t stress about food, I don’t think about everything that I’m eating and count calories – I used to have to do and then it becomes a mental play. I eat what I love, I eat healthy foods and it’s just happy and easy. I think you need to find the ‘ease’ with it.

What does your current workout routine look like? Do you have a favourite workout exercise? 

I definitely love circuits. I will do a body weight circuit either in the gym (if it was there) or in the park or at home if I was rushed for time.

Each session would consist of 4 exercises, say, squats, triceps dips, dumbbells and skipping and I would rotate through these 5-6 times. Maybe 45 seconds of each, 4 times and it would usually take me around 20-30 mins. It’s intense but not exhausting and I’d do circuit 3 times per week. Some days I will have a lower body focus and other days an upper body focus, but on other days I go to exercise and I’m totally not feeling it so I’ll decide to do something different that day. I can’t plan and make up the session beforehand otherwise I’ll overthink it. I get to the gym and see what I feel like doing and go with it. My sister is living with me in LA and we’re both here in Sydney at the moment, so it’s great having a workout buddy – I think that’s really important.

And your least favourite?

I have a few and I always feel like I need to put one of those amongst the other exercises as I couldn’t do a whole day of exercises that I don’t like. I don’t like burpees at all, but I know how good they for you and I need to do them. I’ve also always disliked push-ups, I need to do them on my knees but they’re always something I’d try to incorporate into my routine a little, here and there. My love-hate relationship is with running and I really have to be in the mood to do it… I have always wanted to be (good at it) and I admire the girl that could go and do a 6km jog…. I have been working on it!

Do you have any tips on how to stay motivated to stay fit as we shiver through Winter, here in Australia?

It’s harder in winter obviously and my moods are dictated by weather. So, if it’s raining I’d want to just watch movies inside.

  1. Put on your workout gear in the morning (if your day job allows for it). Once you have the gear on, you will feel more inclined to do some exercise;
  2. Next, you need to figure out if you’re a morning or afternoon exercise person. Dedicate to finding something that works for you;
  3. Do something you enjoy doing as it’s more beneficial than pushing yourself to do something you don’t enjoy because you won’t get consistency;
  4. Try pilates or yoga, I used to enjoy doing Bikram yoga in winter because it was warm and something different;
  5. Always have a goal with what you’re doing. It could be a weight loss, a bulking up goal or a ‘I just like starting my day with a bit more clarity, therefore I will walk for 20 min walk in the morning’. Something to inspire you keep you exercising.

When you do have downtime and the chance to relax, what do you like to do?

My downtime is generally a Saturday which is my organising day to do the groceries and household chores. Sunday’s are my ‘do nothing’ / chill day. I like to sit in and watch a movie or my favourite TV show on Sundays and relax in my pyjamas.. the whole day! I need to have one day per week when I’m switching off from emails and messages and not checking it. I like to leave my phone in my room and not check it and be mindful. I think technology can get overwhelming.

Finally for our beauty readers out there, we all know you have great hair, what are your go-to hair care tips?

My hair has been a bit of a blessing. I used to always get asked how do you keep good hair whilst swimming and I didn’t do anything particularly but one thing I didn’t do was blow dry or straighten it often. I also don’t use a lot of products in it. I wash my hair only once a week or once every 5 days and apply coconut oil. Something I’ve tried recently that works is the “No Poo” do, my mum was trying it so I said “I’ll give it a go, why not?!”… You wash your hair like they used to in the olden days with bicarbonate soda and water, followed by apple cider vinegar and water which acts as a conditioner. It doesn’t smell very nice in your bathroom, but it restores the natural oils in your hair so your hair doesn’t get as oily. I believe you’re meant to not wash your hair for two weeks. I tried it for a month and half and I surprisingly liked it. But soon, I had photoshoots and it wasn’t very practical. So, I switch it up – sometimes I like to go back to that and other times I just use normal haircare products…unfortunately I don’t have anything too fancy to offer you!

Russell Athletic – The Matrix Range is available in September, with the Fever Range available in November.

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