South African born and bred Jenni Rivett is one of the most highly respected and sought-after trainers and nutritionists in the world… writes Kim Carillo.
Known for her ability to transform women’s bodies with her “Train Like A Woman” programme, she’s trained the likes of British actress Elizabeth Hurley, Pussy Cat Doll Ashley Roberts, and ITV’s Lorraine Kelly.
But during the ’90s, over a seven-year period, Jenni worked as Princess Diana’s personal trainer and is credited for creating Diana’s “supermodel” body.
Over the years Jen became a close and valued confidante to Diana, who, at that time, was the most photographed woman in the world. Jen is one of the few people who has remained loyal and kept Diana’s personal secrets since her untimely death in August 1997.
I first met Jenni when I was working as the London correspondent for several of the nightly American TV shows. I always admired her discretion, professionalism and fun personality. We became firm friends.
Check out her fascinating story below, it’s a great read…
How I Came To Wear Diana’s iconic Engagement Ring Before Kate!
By Jenni Rivett
I will never forget the day I received a phone call from Diana’s butler asking me to go and see the Princess at her Kensington Palace home. It was a big moment in my life.
On the day in question, Diana burst into the room and said ‘I’ve heard how busy you are, so thank you for fitting me in. Now what can you do with this body?’
She was an absolute bundle of fun with the greatest sense of humour. And so began our friendship.
Diana and I often worked out at Kensington Palace, I would drive there in the mornings and William and Harry would join in with us.
I taught them how to lunge and do bicep curls. I’ll never forget, William was wearing a pair of white cycle shorts one day and he yanked them up high and said, ‘Look mum, a wedgie!’
Diana sent him out of the room but as soon as the door closed she burst out laughing! They had the most normal and loving relationship.
Sometimes we’d train at The Chelsea Harbour Club too which was very popular at the time with celebrities.
One morning Diana had forgotten to take off her engagement ring and was finding it annoying when she was lifting weights. So, she just slipped it off her finger and said, ‘Can you wear this for me?’
Now bear in mind this was arguably the most valuable ring in the world at the time so I was a little concerned.
I must have looked a bit anxious about the responsibility of it because Diana laughed and said, ‘Jen, it’s just a ring!’
I slipped it on and luckily it fitted! So that’s how I came to be wearing Diana’s ring before Kate!
I was so happy when William gave that ring to his then-fiancée, Diana would be so happy about that. It was William’s way of making sure his mother didn’t miss out on his wedding day.
Diana grew to love working out as she saw such an incredible change in her body. She rarely cancelled any sessions unless absolutely necessary.
She already had lovely legs and I just made them better! I have a unique method of training, which makes the muscles small, lean, lengthened and toned.
Diana also asked me to teach her roller-blading, which she loved, although I nearly had a heart attack a few times when she almost fell over!
Working so closely with her I soon began to understand the immense pressure she was under, that she needed a shoulder to cry on from time to time and that it was important I remained loyal to her.
So when she did part with a particularly private story I listened, gave her my best advice and never ever brought it up again.
During one Christmas holiday Diana was really missing her boys who were staying with their father between Christmas and New Year so I invited her to join me on a Ski trip to Vail (Colorado, USA). She jumped at the chance.
You would never have known she was a Princess. She mucked in, doing the washing up, helping with chores and in the mornings she’d bundle up in her bathrobe, sit on the end of my bed with a cup of tea and we’d chat. She had a really great sense of humour.
The paparazzi were getting more and more out of control and would be staking out the Chelsea Harbour Club (back in London) every morning waiting for Diana to arrive, all jostling for the photo. So Diana came up with a tactic!
Billionaire, Sir Richard Branson had gifted her a Virgin Atlantic sweatshirt and Diana vowed to wear the sweater to every workout session to make it difficult for the paparazzi to sell their photos. She found their obsession with her workouts crazy when there were “more important things to worry about”.
They found it a lot harder to sell pictures of her if she was in the same outfit every day.
In 1997 I made the decision to return to my home in South Africa but just before I left, I had a call from Kensington Palace saying that Diana had left some sweatshirts for me.
When I picked them up, one of them was the iconic Virgin Atlantic sweatshirt. It meant a lot to me. We arranged to meet up after her trip but, of course, that wasn’t to be and she passed away in Paris. It was just a terrible shock and absolutely heartbreaking.
I have kept the sweatshirt close to my heart all of this time together with my memories of a wonderful friend but, recently, I made the decision to part with it after 20 years. It was just sitting in my wardrobe gathering dust and I felt it deserved a better home.
The sweatshirt had never been washed. I honestly had no idea how valuable it would be and the winning bid of $53,532 was made by a collector based in California who chose to remain anonymous. It was far more than I could ever have imagined and the proceeds will all go to a family from Malawi who really need help.
I am so glad I did it and I know that Princess Diana would support my decision and feel good that even now she is paying it forward.”
JENNI RIVETT is an international fitness and nutrition consultant. Author, fitness journalist, and creator of four DVDs, Jenni was once voted Britain’s top fitness trainer by the ‘Best of British’ publications. Her unique understanding of women’s bodies is second to none. She has the knowledge to turn your life around. If you’d like to join one of Jenni’s zoom classes, she will teach you how to age-proof your mind and body without becoming a slave to complicated workouts and fad diets so that you can get on with the business of living the life you love with vitality and positivity. Health is everything and therefore a priority! We can’t live our best lives without it and you couldn’t have anyone better qualified guiding you.
This article is republished with kind permission from international TV producer and journalist Kim Cariloo’s website: www.KimCarillo.com