By Samantha Maziarz Christmann

News STAFF Reporter

Fitness guru Denise Austin was in Williamsville this week, signing copies of her new book, “Side Effect: Skinny,” and unveiling a new line of Forever Fit fitness equipment being sold at Rite Aid stores.

The 56-year-old fitness instructor has had two long-running television exercise programs and has released more than 30 exercise DVDs. Here, she shares her methods.

So, you have ties to Buffalo?

Yes, well, my mom was born and raised in Lockport so I have tons of cousins here. My mom’s sister is here. I had dinner with them last night. They’re all from Lockport and everyone’s still there.

What does it mean to eat right?

It’s just about eating smart. It’s about eating the right foods like fruits and vegetables and good whole grains, lean protein.

But I’m a true believer in having a good diet most of the time, like 80 percent of the time, and then having your treats, too. So that’s what my new book is all about. You eat really well for at least Monday through Friday but then you can splurge a little bit on the weekends. Because that’s what you look forward to. And that’s how I’ve been eating my whole life.

There have been so many workout fads. Which workout do you like best?

I like the mixing and matching of different workouts.

In the course of a week, why not mix up the cardio? Maybe one day you’ll go walking and one day you’ll go kickboxing. And then mix up your toning, too. Some days do Pilates, yoga, light weights.

That’s how I have kept my body in shape all these years and without injury, thank God. I really have done a little of everything. I think it keeps you motivated.

How do you get rid of belly fat?

Honestly, it’s a three-pronged attack. You gotta do three things to really get it. So, you’ve gotta do cardio to burn fat for the whole body. Then you gotta eat right, because less calories is how you’re gonna lose weight. Then you gotta zero in on the muscle there to really tone and target it so you really firm it up. It really makes a difference.

How do you lose the last stubborn 10 pounds?

Walk. Walk everywhere. Get out there. Get a pedometer. It’s a piece of equipment that can give you a challenge. You can say, ‘Gosh, I only did 5,000 steps today,’ and you’re supposed to do 10,000 a day. It’s beautiful out. And honestly, walking is the best kind of fitness. Couple it with some weights and you’re on your way.

What about people who say they have no time to work out?

Oh, I’ll tell them! I exercise even at the office. I have Pilates bands that I use in my office and I stretch and tone my arms while I’m at the desk. I use a balance ball to sit on in my office. A minute here and a minute there. Toning can be stretched out throughout the day but not cardio, you have to do 20 minutes straight. That’s why walking is so good.

What about parents who want to get their kids more fit?

Just actually encourage them by showing them that you are doing it, too. What I like to do with my two kids is I get out there and do stuff with them. You know, like play in the backyard, play tennis and go on bike rides together. Really do it as a family. It encourages them.

Fast food is everywhere. What do you tell parents who want their kids to eat better?

As long as they’re getting some fruits and veggies in there, that’s the key. Make sure they’re getting at least five fruits and vegetables every day.