Dancing With The Stars 2019: Michelle Bridges Went Out With A Bang
She's instantly recognisable as one of Australia's toughest trainers, but on the dance floor, there was nowhere for the real Michelle Bridges to hide.
It was another surprising elimination this week, after Michelle and her dance partner, Aric Yegudkin, saw week-after-week solid improvement in their dances.
"I do feel a little bit like, wow, we're off!" Michelle told 10 daily somewhat stupefied. "The last few weeks I had been improving and getting some good scores so I thought, you know, being in the top-ish area of the leaderboard you'd be pretty safe but clearly that's not the case."
Last night Michelle and Aric sat directly in the middle of the leaderboard, tied for third place with Jimmy Rees and his partner Alexandra with a total of 25 points.
"It's a bit upsetting to not be able to continue," Aric said, before Michelle jumped in to say, "but we went out with a bang."
In the bottom two against Curtly Ambrose, it was safe to assume Michelle and Aric -- who received mostly positive critiques from the judges and won their dance-off later in the night -- would be safe for another week. But when it came to the audience vote, Curtly managed to scrape by.
"You can never assume anything with these kinds of shows," Aric reminded us.
The shock of elimination aside, Michelle gushed about the experience despite constantly being pushed out of her comfort zone.
"I had never danced before and to go out on a dancefloor in front of a big audience, knowing we've got cameras on us and it's going out to the whole country... like, oh my God," Michelle said.
While remembering to point your toes was one thing, Michelle was also working on showing a more authentic version of herself. Her long tenure on Biggest Loser had meant that when people thought of "Michelle Bridges" they thought of the stern trainer forcing people to push sleds or do burpees or learn what a calorie is.
"It was lovely to show myself rather than being in a role," she continued, "not that I was playing a role, as such, but with Loser, I was there to do a job and I was there to do a fairly substantial job."
"I feel like I got typecast in that role, 'Oh she's just that tough trainer'. It was nice to just say hi, this is me!"
During her time in the competition, Michelle was able to show several different sides of herself, from the loving mum to the survivor of abuse. The typically strong trainer "character" was able to give way to a more vulnerable, open version of the Michelle we had come to know over the years.
"I wasn't asked to go onto [Biggest Loser] and be Michelle, I was asked to be a full-on trainer and get the results that I did," she said, "but that's just one little piece of what I do.
"It was just a nice experience to be myself and have Australia receive me so positively, to go oh my god you're... normal! You're not just doing push-ups and drinking protein shakes."
Michelle's fitness background was also seen -- to some -- as a huge advantage going into the competition, but truthfully it may have been more of a hurdle than people first thought.
"It's just a totally different physicality," Michelle explained, "I'm so used to being linear and structured, dancing is so much more fluid. That was one of our biggest battles."
"There's a big difference between squatting 80 kilos to doing some pivots," Aric said, launching into a list of other technical dance moves.
"People assumed her to be a good dancer," he said, "it requires a lot of flexibility and you've got to point your toes, keep your shoulders out, smile and perform things while doing it."
"Whilst wearing sequins," Michelle said, nodding like someone who had just spent six weeks in and out of many, many sequins.
Probably the biggest shame is that Michelle had really started to hit her stride (or chassé) in the last few weeks.
"The confidence grew enormously from the start, she started to thrive off the audience," Aric agreed.
"She started as an athlete and finished as a dancer."