Diana loved going into the palace courtyard wearing a leotard .. she knew other Royals watched from the windows in horror; THE PRINCESS: BY HER PERSONAL FITNESS TRAINER.
Rebuilding Diana's shattered confidence, Carolan became a trusted confidante as her marriage disintegrated. But at her lowest ebb, Diana never lost her playful sense of humour, as Carolan reveals in this personal tribute to the Princess.
HEAD held high and with a little smile on her lips, Princess Diana strode confidently across the courtyard in her rather sexy thong leotard.
We'd finished our regular work-out at her home in Kensington Palace and with the words "I'll come down and see you off," insisted on saying goodbye at the gates.
As we walked together she turned and gave a friendly wave to a policeman who was clearly delighted by this Lycra-clad vision before him.
She knew her royal neighbours would be looking disapprovingly from their windows - and she loved it.
Almost as much as asking her butler Harold to bring us some water as we worked out and watching his face turn bright red as he tried not to pay too much attention to our leotards.
It was showing off in a way, but it was also much more than that. It was a sign that Diana at last felt comfortable in her own skin, wanted to enjoy the new found confidence she felt in her body and have fun with it.
It was something the Diana I first met nine years ago could never have done. At our first meeting in 1989, Diana's body language showed classic signs of insecurity and low self-esteem.
Her shoulders sloped, which meant her chest looked droopy. Her chin jutted out and, rather than lifting her face to look at me, her eyes peered up from under her fringe. A keen swimmer, dancer and tennis player she was pretty fit, but wanted to tone up like any other young mum.
She told me: "I've had two children, I want to get my body back into shape and tone up - and I want more energy because I have a hectic schedule."
Diana could have picked anyone to help her do that, but she'd read a magazine article about me, seen my video and wanted to meet the woman who'd created Cardio-Funk.
I'd taken traditional fitness techniques and combined them with Madonna and Michael Jackson style dance moves. It became the craze of the 80s and Diana, who loved dance, wanted to try it.
But when her secretary phoned my husband Steve to make an appointment, he thought it was some kind of joke. When he told me I said: "Oh yeah, pull the other one". Then the panic set in. I sat down and thought: "Oh, no! What am I going to wear?"
T HE next morning I was outside Harrod's at 9am where I bought a Katherine Hamnett suit for our first meeting at the LA Fitness Gym, where I was working at the time.
I don't know who was more nervous, her or me, but there was an instant rapport. We agreed to meet three times a week at Kensington Palace - sometimes at 7am because that was the only slot in her diary.
One of the first things that struck me about Diana was her playfulness. She could be a real nosy neighbour, just like the rest of us.
If any of the other royals at Kensington Palace were going out, she'd look out of the window and say: "Quick, come and look at this! Ooh, no, I wouldn't have worn that."
But it soon became clear to me that exercise meant much more to Diana than just toning up. It kept her together and helped her retain her sanity at at time when her marriage was under tremendous strain.
She used to confide in me as we worked out or she'd call me to chat on the phone, often in tears. Although we became close I always tried to maintain the trainer-client relationship, which wasn't always easy.
I was happy to be a shoulder to cry on when she needed it, but I wasn't a counsellor and always advised her to see professional therapists. I made a point of instantly forgetting the secrets she confided in me - so I couldn't tell anyone else.
She was a volatile person and I often noticed that Diana's friendships were of the love-hate variety, so it was important to keep some professional distance. I was always straight with her. I didn't want to hang around like some IT girl, trying to belong to her inner circle.
One day she asked me to listen to one of her speeches and said: "What did you think of the delivery?" I told her: "To be quite honest, you sound like a 12-year-old girl. If you want deliver a speech that's meaningful, you need to be much more forceful with your voice. Lower the tone and speak from the heart."
Diana was quite taken aback and said "Oh, right." I don't think anybody had ever spoken to her like that before.
It was impossible not to warm to Diana, she could be so sweet and caring. When Steve and I married in 1990 she bought us a lovely leather-bound photograph album with our initials on it.
One Christmas she bought me a stereo and another time she sent monogrammed dressing gowns to me and Steve. She was enormously generous in her appreciation.
But underneath that shy, doe-eyed look she was quite a strong character and, in the early days, she used that to sort herself out physically and mentally.
Apart from her growing confidence, I was proud of the way she improved her body. She had more muscle definition, her posture improved and those wonderful, to-die-for legs looked even more fabulous.
"Chest out and smile," I would exort, and she would laugh. We concentrated on her upper torso, shoulders and arms, which needed work. However the area which wanted most attention was her stomach - after two children her abdomen looked as if it had collapsed.
BUT her underlying fitness was so good that it wasn't long before we started seeing results.
After just three sessions she was saying: "I feel so much better already. I have much more energy".
When she started training she wore shorts and a T-shirt, but I told her to wear a leotard and tights to show off her figure.
"Now your bottom is nice and toned, you can wear thongs," I said. "Oh no, I couldn't possibly wear a thong," she replied, but I insisted: "Yes you can."
She loved being up-to-the-minute and, let's face it, no one else was going to tell her she looked good enough to wear a thong.
I would arrive at Kensington Palace and say: "I want to try out this new routine on you before I show it to anyone else". Diana loved that. She'd say: "Ooh, am I the first person to try it?" She loved variety and creativity. After two years of working out at home, I wanted to vary Diana's workout and to challenge her, so we moved to LA Fitness in Isleworth.
It was quite a small gym and the manager, Bryce Taylor, had been nagging me for ages to bring her there.
But it was at that gym that those pictures of Diana working out were secretly taken. I was at home when one of her detectives called me to say someone had taken photos of her. I was horrified, I knew absolutely nothing about it. I felt terrible because I was the one who introduced Diana to the club.
After I returned from holiday Bryce sacked me - which was a relief because it cleared my name - and called Diana. It was a hellish time - many friends doubted me and thought I'd been involved in setting Diana up, but she was so sympathetic.
"Never mind, let's train in another gym," she said. It meant so much to me that Diana believed me. We carried on training at her home and at the Harbour Club in Chelsea where I watched Diana become ever more confident.
Our last session together was when I was heavily pregnant with my son Willem, who's now three. I was 37 when I conceived and the baby's health was causing me sleepless nights from worry. Diana was delighted at my pregnancy and felt very bad about dragging me up to Kensington Palace when I was so concerned about my unborn baby.
After Willem was born we talked on the phone and she said: "Do you really want to carry on? You've got a child. Enjoy him."
My assistant Jenni Rivett took over as trainer. We exchanged a few letters and telephone calls, but contact inevitably fizzled out.
Then, that awful Sunday morning last August, I turned on the television and heard that she had died.
I just couldn't believe what I was hearing. I couldn't accept that she was gone until, invited to the funeral, I watched her coffin leave Westminster Abbey. I knew then, it was the end.
But, like many people, I will always remember her as she was before she died. Confident, radiant and so utterly beautiful with her ready smile, and long graceful limbs.
There is no one to replace Diana. She was such a huge role model for women. She certainly made a huge impact on my life, and I feel privileged to have played a very small part in hers. That in some way, through exercise, I helped give her the physical and emotional strength she needed in her life.
ROUTINES THAT GOT HER BODY IN SHAPE
HEAD: Diana's head was bowed and she would peer out from under her fringe instead of lifting her face. This was a clear sign of low self- esteem and insecurity. My priorities were to improve her posture which would instantly make her look and feel more confident.
I told her to imagine there was a drawer in her chin which she should pull in and out. I reminded her to look straight ahead at people.
Inside that shy, doe-eyed woman was a very strong, determined person who needed to express herself.
SHOULDERS: Diana stood with her shoulders sloped - like many tall people who feel self-conscious about their height - which gave her a poor posture.
This was another sign of low self-confidence. I taught her how to stand correctly by saying: "Shoulders over hips, hips over knees and knees over ankles."
And shoulder presses toned this area of her body.
CHEST & ARMS: Diana's chest sometimes appeared droopy because of the way she stood with her shoulders sloping.
Once she improved her posture this looked much better. And she used free weights to build strength in her arms and back. I'd tell her: "Chest out and smile".
That used to make her laugh - but it worked. In the last year of her life, she wore dresses which positively showed off her wonderful cleavage.
TUMMY: This was Diana's weak spot and the part she worked at hardest with abdominal lunges.
It was a result of two babies and a lack of specific exercise in this area which had led to her looking as if she had crumpled in the middle. But because she had very good underlying fitness, she managed to get this vulnerable area under control.
LEGS: Diana had lovely long legs which were already in great shape thanks to her love of dancing, tennis and swimming.
We kept them and her bottom toned by doing squat exercises. Lunge exercises improved her thighs.
As Diana's confidence grew and body improved she slipped into leotard and thong instead of her baggy shorts and T-shirt.
She looked so good in them that she began to enjoy showing off her figure - even though her fabulous physique caused her butler to blush.
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|Publication:||The Mirror (London, England)|
|Date:||Aug 27, 1998|
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