Three Minute Squiz With… Shay Stafford

30 October 2018

She had us at Crunchie… Fitness professional and former Moulin Rouge dancer Shay Stafford is also partial to baked Camembert, duck fat spuds and a good bottle of French red. A woman after our own heart! Please welcome Shay to the Three Minute Squiz.

When, where and how do you Squiz?
At 8.30 in the morning, after school drop-off, before teaching my 10am class, and after my 5.30am and 6.15am classes. Always with a flat white.

What was the first concert you ever went to? And more importantly, what did you wear?
INXS – Listen Like Thieves tour, I think. RatCat were the support group. And I wore a pair of high-waisted stonewash jeans, crowned by the most impressive – and brittle – blonde permed hair with a giant fringe. Hot.

You’re the owner of a couple of Xtend Barre fitness studios in Brissie – what’s all this exercise-at-the-ballet-barre business anyway, and why should we be bothered to get off the couch to give it a whirl?
Xtend Barre is a dance-inspired fitness workout and – in my humble opinion – the quickest, most effective way to tone muscle, improve cardio fitness and turbo-charge core strength. I train women of all ages and abilities, and they love it because they feel fit and fabulous, strong and healthy. Oh, and it’s fun. No, really. Are you off the couch yet?

In your experience, what’s the biggest hurdle people need to get over to do the workout?
Thinking they need to be a professional dancer to give it a whirl. You don’t.

Your favourite binge-worthy TV show of late – and what do you love about it?
Killing Eve – because Sandra Oh is in it and she is phenomenal. I love it because her co-star Jodie Comer is just the right amount of twisted. And it’s filmed in a stunning array of European cities.

If you could invite five people, living or dead, to your perfect dinner party, who would they be?
(American prima ballerina) Misty Copeland, (Paris cabaret star of yore) Josephine Baker, (needs no introduction) Whitney Houston, author Philippa Gregory and Hans The German.

And what would you cook them? 
Baked camembert, followed by duck confit with pommes salardaises (potatoes twice cooked in duck fat), a green salad and a marscapone cheesecake with fresh berries to finish. All washed down with a bottle or four of Burgundy.

Rumour has it before you became a fitness freak, you danced for over a decade at the Moulin Rouge and Lido cabarets in Paris. Two questions: 1. What the actual freak?!? and 2. What did living in Paris for 12 years teach you about life?
I don’t know how to answer question one – except to say that after years of classical training as a dancer, I applied for the job and got it. And as for question two: living and working in Paris taught me that sometimes, some of us are lucky enough to do something we love for a living – and when that something means dressing up each night in feathers and sequins, a girl has to pinch herself on an almost nightly basis.

So, we’ve seen the movie Moulin Rouge. Was your life just like Nicole Kidman’s? (and yes, we know that’s three questions …)
If you’re asking if I was penniless and living in a rooftop apartment with no lift and had odd-looking pervy men flirting with me each night I walked out the stage door – then yes. Thankfully though, not the dying-of-consumption bit.

You relatively recently relocated with your family back to Brisbane after six years in Sydney. What prompted the move and what do you love about Brisvegas? 
I had a chance to open a couple of Xtend Barre studios in Brisbane – but mostly, I wanted to be near my mum. After living overseas for almost 20 years, I just wanted to be close to my family. What do I love about Brissie? The summer storms, the fact that (outside of peak hour) it only takes 20 minutes to get anywhere – and the fact that people are ludicrously friendly. Almost disconcertingly friendly.

You’re a working mum of two and a small business owner: what’s been the takeaway?
Lately I’ve become annoyed at myself saying how busy I am. Because at the end of the day, it’s a choice I’ve made. No one forced me to juggle a young family with the running of a couple of businesses. It’s something I have chosen to do – and mostly, I love it. And while I understand that the cost of living is high these days, requiring us all to work – I still can’t help but wonder if we couldn’t be living quieter, calmer, more simple lives, with far fewer ‘things’.

You’re a notorious sweet tooth and a baker of note: what one confectionery delight can you not live without? And what’s your go-to, pure- comfort baked good?
I’m a sucker for a mid-afternoon Crunchie. And I have been known to whip up a sticky-date pudding at midnight when the urge overwhelms me. Is it just me or are you making me out to be a complete glutton?

What skill or talent do you not have but wish you did?
I wish I could play the piano.

What is the quality you most treasure in a friend?

What’s the most overlooked news story of the moment?  
It’s all I can do to keep up with the ‘looked’ ones. That said, the stranglehold that betting companies have over our nation makes me feel a little bit ill. From the ubiquitous pokies to those online betting agencies that advertise during sporting events, gambling is a sickness in this country that governments here seem to conveniently overlook.

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