Sonia Kruger is as vibrant and playful as she was when she zoomed across the Strictly Ballroom floor nearly 30 years ago. And as she takes a swing at another energetic project, the seemingly age-proof 55-year-old talks to Body+Soul about growing older with grace (and a lot of humour).
Anyone who’s spotted Sonia Kruger on the back of a bus of late will be incredulous. Wearing a pink miniskirt, and with her hair in a high ponytail, she looks more like a schoolgirl than a woman in her sixth decade.
In fact, as she prepares to host Seven Network’s lighthearted extreme-minigolf show Holey Moley, the 55-year-old looks like she’s actually getting younger.
Most people fronting not one but three of the network’s flagship shows, as well as raising a six-year-old, would doubtless look a little weary around the edges, but Kruger is as box-fresh as ever, cracking jokes and giving her co-stars a run for their money. Yet it’s neither diets, exercise nor even good genes she credits for her youthfulness – it’s attitude.
“I feel exactly the same way I felt when I was 25,” Kruger tells Body+Soul, explaining that she thinks the best way to approach ageing is to ignore it.
“If you focus on it too much you can spiral a bit, and I don’t want to ever do that. I want to still be active, energetic and vibrant for a long time yet, not just so I’m able to have fun with my daughter when she’s a teenager, but also because it’s a more fun way to live.”
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As she makes the switch from the show-stopping gowns she wore on Big Brother to a preppy and sporty wardrobe for Holey Moley (premiering tomorrow night on the Seven Network), it becomes clear that Kruger’s humour and age-defying outlook underpin the versatility that has made her one of the busiest women in television.
To that end, she does just as much “adulting” as is necessary to maintain a functioning life.
“As we get older we get responsibilities,” she reflects.
“We’ve all got jobs and mortgages to pay and all that boring stuff that adults have to do. I’ll do what I have to do as an adult but, really, I would rather live my life and have some fun.”
Sandwiching Holey Moley in between Big Brother and The Voice – which is switching networks from Nine to Seven – could have intimidated Kruger, but she instead chooses to marvel at her good fortune.
“I’m very grateful that I’ve been given the opportunity to do three amazing shows; I’d be happy with one!” she enthuses.
“For me, this one [Holey Moley] is particularly exciting. I don’t feel nervous because after the year we’ve had, something that’s just pure family entertainment is a welcome form of relief.”
And the show’s colourful and wacky set could be the best backdrop yet for her irreverent sense of humour. Certainly, it’s the kind of show that’s tailor-made to appeal to adults and kids alike, and that includes her own daughter, Maggie, who starts school this year.
In the same way that Kruger’s openness around her daughter’s birth via an egg donor gave hope to many with fertility issues, her refusal to be pigeonholed by programmers has changed how we regard women on television. As she’s shown, middle-aged women don’t have to only be the authoritative figure behind a desk – they can also be in the thick of the action, both having and producing laughs.
“It used to be that you hit 50 and you were past it,” she says.
“In our mothers’ era there were no gym memberships or access to online fitness programs, but now you see so many women staying fit, healthy and vibrant. Women are coming into their own and competing on every level in male-dominated areas. We’re staying younger for longer and we want to be represented on TV by people who are like us. We want people with life layers.”
And while Kruger acknowledges that she augments her attitude with a focus on good nutrition and regular exercise, she’s not obsessive about it.
“I don’t live like a monk,” she says. “I don’t cut anything out but I give myself some good breaks in between [social occasions] to recover. I don’t want to be a person who denies myself all the good things in life. As they say, you might not live longer. It’ll just seem longer.”
Sonia Kruger shares her tips for maintaining a youthful attitude
Make friends with people who make you laugh
“A lot of my close friends are hilarious, to the extent that I think they’re the ones who should be on TV. I’ve been friends with my girlfriend Claire for more than 30 years and she just cracks me up.”
Watch children’s movies
“There’s always a lovely message in there and that childlike attitude and curiosity helps keep you young,” says Kruger. “I’ve been watching Home Alone with Maggie and she laughs so much.”
Do things that are unexpected
“The other day I walked to work. I took a backpack and pretended I was walking around Europe,” she says, pointing out that solo adventures, particularly in nature, are rejuvenating.
Be mindful about nutrition
Kruger says she mainly eats vegetables, salads and lean protein, but if she’s in a restaurant she’ll order fish and then share a dessert. That said, she has one weakness: “I can’t have chocolate in the house. It’s my kryptonite.”