A royal calling
Jenni suddenly found herself behind palace walls when someone vouched for her to the princess herself.
“We had a really great bond,” Jenni recalls to New Idea Royals Monthly.
At that time, the 30-year-old princess and mother-of-two was looking to improve her body and fitness. What was doubly refreshing is that the South African-born fitness guru is the first to admit she had no idea about how to behave around British royalty!
“She liked the fact that I was not familiar with royal protocol,” Jenni recalls.
“For example; I didn’t realise that I had to curtsey to her and only found out four years later when I saw her best friend (whom I also trained) curtseying to her in Kensington Gardens. She laughed when I apologised, and said, ‘That’s why I love you Jenni … please don’t ever curtsey to me.’ ”
Some of Jenni’s most fun and memorable training sessions with Diana revolved around exploring the latest workout crazes of the day.
“Diana used to like doing step aerobics, which was the big thing in the ’90s,” Jenni says. “She also really loved to do cardio and get out into Kensington Gardens and power walk.
“I taught her to rollerblade, too, which she loved! In general, she loved most of the exercises I did with her.”
Jenni’s fitness philosophy revolves around “body conditioning”, so many of her sessions with Diana centred on “functional training using her own body resistance, medium sized weights and resistance bands”.
The trainer adds that Diana had excellent form when it came to “squats and lunges” – so she’d make her “rack up the reps” on those exercises. However, Jenni says the princess had her bad habits: “I worked a lot on her posture as she had a tendency to have rounded shoulders.”
And Jenni says it didn’t take long for Diana’s body to transform – and she responded extremely positively to the visible changes.
“Like most women, when you are seeing the results it really motivates you to carry on,” Jenni says.
As a staff member privy to the inner sanctum of the royal family, Jenni admits that her sessions with Diana gave her a front-row view into the inner workings of palace life.
One memory in particular that stands out is when Diana’s very young sons Prince Harry and Prince William would join in with her workouts.
“[Her boys] were her whole world and would often be in on our training sessions at Kensington Palace – annoying her occasionally!” Jenni says with a laugh.
“She had a very special bond with both William and Harry and would love to embarrass them, too – her sense of humour was one of her greatest traits!”
Jenni also worked with Diana throughout her separation and divorce from Prince Charles – and she clearly recalls the princess’s emotional state at that stressful, awful time: “In her own words she always said, ‘I didn’t ask for this.’ ”
Her personal body demons
Princess Diana endured a well-documented battle with the eating disorder bulimia – and Jenni admits Diana confided in her about her health struggle.
“She bravely told me – and the world – about her bulimia,” Jenni reveals.
“[It] was truly honourable as it helped so many young women understand [the impact of] eating disorders.”
In order to help her royal client, Jenni says she not only supported Diana, but also showed her how to embrace exercise and fitness as a useful health-management tool when the going got tough.
“I just encouraged her with healthy eating and I honestly believe the exercise helped her manage her bulimia,” Jenni explains.
“Exercise is such an incredible release for anxiety and other low feelings.
“I believe as her body became fit, strong and healthy, she felt empowered and ready to face those bad times head-on.”
WAYS TO WORKOUT LIKE PRINCESS DI
Stand with feet a little further than shoulder distance apart, toes slightly pointed outwards. Keeping your weight into your heels, lift and lower your body with control, really squeezing your glutes on the way up. Do two sets of 15 reps.
Sit on the edge of your bath or a chair. Place your hands by your side and lift and lower your bodyweight, bending at the elbows without allowing the shoulders to shrug up. Do two or three sets of 10 reps.
Standing, bring your arms out to the side and simply squeeze your shoulder blades together as strongly as you can. Imagine holding a marble between your shoulder blades. Do this often – even several times a day.
Come down onto your knees and place your hands just off a mat. Lower your buttocks and pick your feet up off the floor slightly.
Without arching your back, lift and lower your bodyweight through your arms. The elbows go slightly behind as you lower into the push-ups. Do two sets of 10 reps slowly.
ALTERNATE SHOULDER & LEG LIFT
Lying on the floor, place your hands behind your head. Keeping your left leg slightly bent, lift it 10cm off the floor. Lift your head and shoulders off the floor and rotate your upper body slightly towards the left side.
Now lift and lower your upper body slightly across towards your left leg. Ensure you draw your abs towards your backbone; don’t let your tummy pop out. Do 10 reps on the left side, 10 reps on the right side. Repeat.
For more, pick up a copy of New Idea Royals Monthly. On sale now!