Health Bird

Have you checked out Health Bird yet?

It’s the latest wellbeing blog covering the best in health, beauty, fitness, style and travel from Sydney to New York!

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Hi Coogeecats!

I’ve got exciting news.. the cat is now a bird! I’ve relaunched this blog as…


I know you’re going to love the redesign and healthy, happy, fit, sweaty, stylish content that translates between my hometown of Sydney, Australia and my city of residence, New York, USA.

Please visit Health Bird today and sign up for the newsletter and let me know what you think!

Thank you,


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The bitter-sweet truth about chocolate


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So you worked your butt off at the gym and rewarded yourself with a chocolate bar. OK, not the end of the world for your butt cheeks but I bet you didn’t know you may just have contributed to child slave labour.

Sadly, and surprisingly very under-reported, more than 70 percent of the world’s cacao production (predominantly in West Africa) is associated with abusive child labor and human trafficking.

The BBC has reported that hundreds of thousands of children are being bought from their poverty-stricken families, or sometimes simply stolen, and transported to the Ivory Coast (where 60% percent of their revenue comes from cocoa) and Ghana where they are forced into slave labour, working up to 100 hours a week.

These girls and boys between the ages of 11 and 16 (though there have been reports of children as young as 5) are exposed to industrial chemicals and the dangers of big machinery. They are NOT PAID and receive NO EDUCATION. Not to mention they are malnourished, mistreated and often have no access to clean water or sanitary bathrooms.

Sadly, little is being done to eradicate child labour in these regions, but you can take a stand by buying FAIRTRADE chocolate.

Australians consume around 6 kilos of chocolate a year per person. Placing us ninth in the world’s chocolate loving nations.

Sadly, Fairtrade chocolate comprises just 3 percent of sales.

We all love chocolate, it’s sensual, smooth, creamy and they say, sometimes better than sex! But not when you know it’s contributing to child atrocities like human trafficking and slavery. Please be mindful next time you treat yourself. Look for certified fairtrade certified chocolate.


UnknownYoung boy rakes cocoa beans on a drying rack.

Get Ready to Sweat!


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Fitness Show is coming to Sydney and Perth!

Fitness Show is celebrating 20 years of revealing the latest workout trends and get-fit products. And this year’s event to be held at Perth Convention Centre on August 16 and 17, and the Sydney Showground at Sydney Olympic Park on October 18 and 19. It’s not to be missed!

There’ll be an endless offering of the latest fitness gadgets, accessories, nutrition advice and clothing developments.

Celebrity experts including Commando Steve and Australia’s Healthy Chef, Teresa Cutter, will be on hand to give advice and running workshops to participate in.

Then there’s the live sporting events and search for Australia’s fittest man and woman!

The Fitness Show NSW opens their doors at 10am on October 18th. Get your tickets here!



Yoga Moves


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Nothing like starting your day breathing fresh air and saluting to the sun.

While sun salutations are a good way to stay in shape thanks to their stretching and cardiovascular effect on the body, the movement also has an impact on other areas of your mind and soul. Daily practice maintains blood flow, and supports your digestive, respiratory, and circulatory system.

Honouring the sun through the dynamic Surya Namaskar sequence can be performed any time during the day, though at sunrise you may find it is both calming and meditative for the mind thanks to the light’s connection with your solar plexus.

Namaskar is a Sanskrit word that stems from namas, meaning ‘to bow to’ or ‘to adore’ (A more familiar phrase to yoga practitioners is, namastete meaning ‘you’—, and is used to finish and honour the end of a class)

Sun salutations begin and end with hands joined mudra (gesture) and touched to the heart.

The heart knows your truth and beauty and giving thanks sets you up for a day of gratitude and enlightenment.



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Musical fitness!


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Gorgeous actress and health and fitness fan, Gretel Scarlett, is currently playing the lead role of Sandy in Grease the musical. After electrifying audiences in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Singapore, Grease is back in Australian shores for the Perth and Adelaide Seasons.

With a gruelling eight shows a week, Gretel knows how important it is to lead a well-balanced healthy lifestyle to keep up with her gruelling schedule. A vegetarian and dedicated Yogi, Gretel talks to Coogeecat about staying in perfect shape to play Sandy.



How long have you been passionate about your health and fitness?

I’ve been a very fit and healthy person for most of my life, and growing up with a dance background has always kept me on top of my physical fitness. However, around five years ago, my body realised how much decent meals and healthy food was what I responded best to. My digestive system and body improved beyond words by eliminating gluten and unnatural sugars.

How did that help your performance?

I now feel that my body utilises my food to create energy. I have a lot of nuts, dried fruits, agave, cacao, chia seeds, green smoothies, fresh juices, salads and grains. They are slow releasing energy and it helps me through an eight-show week and I very rarely feel tired. Eating this way helps keep my immune system in peak condition.

Is playing Sandy in Grease a physical role?

Sandy doesn’t dance as much as the rest of the cast, but I’ve done years of dancing in others musicals throughout Australia like Wicked and Mamma Mia, so I’m not complaining. However, more than physical, it’s a demanding role vocally. The songs sit in a difficult spot for most females to sing, so I have to keep myself in top vocal condition; plus I have to move, dance and sing at the same time. So I am not allowed to sound puffed out or unfit. It all goes hand in hand really.

Take us through a usual week in regards to fitness/yoga/workouts? 

My mind cannot deal with gyms. So I keep far away from them. I try to keep my mind, body and soul all happy at once.

Monday is my rest day. I don’t talk. I take my pen and paper everywhere and it’s a day of walking and exploring the new city I am performing in. Not too much exertion.
The rest of week are all performing days. Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday are two-show days, so I just rely on the fitness and workout of the show. Grease is quite a high intensity show, especially the finale megamix sequence; and I do that in a red patent leather Nine West stiletto!
Each day, before warm up, I do a sequence of ashtanga yoga poses or a basic ballet barre in my Dressing room. I cannot sing without a ‘salute to the sun’! I keep up my flexibility with a few stretches and do some abdominal exercises, to keep the core in shape. But mostly during show season, the show is my fitness and it’s all about complementing it with good food.
Out of season, I’ll get myself to my favourite pilates reformer teacher in Carlton, Sydney, Tamara Rogelja, who mixes reformer with ballet. It’s a ridiculous work out!!

Do you feel a lot of pressure to stay in shape with your profession?

I personally think that kind of pressure isn’t too prominent in the Music Theatre industry. I am naturally thin and athletic, so I usually rely on healthy eating and the workout of the show to keep me fitting in the black tight leather Sandy outfit! I definitely don’t think about it too much and it’s never really been a pressure that’s placed on me.

What’s a typical eating plan for you?

I eat three meals a day with lots of snacks in between. I get ‘h-angry’ if I don’t have food every couple of hours. I’m vegetarian, so don’t be surprised that my meals don’t consist of meat. I’ll have breakfast (brunch, as we work a little later than most), which is usually something like poached eggs on toast with haloumi and my green barley grass drink. Lunch (which I call Linner) that is something like a spinach wrap with lettuce, tomato, cucumber, olives, avocado, carrot, havarti cheese, a dressing and some pearl barley. Then a late dinner after the show, which is usually something like steamed or stir fried veggies with tofu and rice or quinoa. In between those meals I have lots of vegan treats I make, like nut fig balls (filled with agave, goji berries and coconut butter), Larabars (which are my show snack of dried fruits), sweet potato crisps, coyo (coconut yoghurt), a green smoothie too.

What motivates you to workout and eat right when you just don’t feel like it?

I believe if my body is tired, I must let it rest. I will never push it to over use. But if it’s just a will power mind set, you need to have a lifestyle choice. I’ve never chosen my food or fitness based on “wanting to lose weight” or “wanting to impress someone else”. It just doesn’t work like that. It’s long term goals and knowing that a little bit of hard work every day, will go a long way.

Do you have a daily mantra?

You are in control of the choices you make. Allow them to be choices that your body will thank you for.

Please share a smoothie recipe with us. 

My current favourite:

Blueberries (approx 6)
Raspberries (approx 5)
Banana (a half)
Green Kale (handful +)
Baby Spinach (handful +)
Chia Seeds
Agave Syrup (teaspoon)

You can also add cashews and almonds etc to give it a breakfast vibe.

Ends. Interview by Kelli Armstrong.

Gretel Scarlett (Sandy), Pink Ladies and Female Ensemble (c) Jeff Busby Gretel Scarlett and Rob Mills resized

Get the Vie Active life!


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Noa Ries (co-founder of Vie Active) has been into health and fitness for as long as she can remember, training for the City 2 Surf with her dad when she was just eight, and running laps of soft sand along Bondi Beach. But it was in her early 20s that Noa became committed to health and fitness, or as she puts it, “I swapped my party heels for sneakers.”

Noa was soon training for triathlons and completed a half ironman before becoming a qualified personal trainer.

“Exercise just makes me feel better and it gives me the energy to get through the day. I know on the days that I don’t exercise I feel really sluggish and don’t have much focus. I’m really passionate about living an active life because if I didn’t I wouldn’t have vitality and energy.”

Growing up in Australia’s iconic Bondi Beach, it’s not hard to see where Noa got her inspiration from to launch high-end workout wear label, Vie Active.

“Something I love about Bondi is that whenever anyone from overseas visits us they’re always struck by how fit and healthy everyone is. Any day of the week there are people working on their fitness. It’s an incredibly passionate community of health and wellness. You can go for an amazing run along the coastline, swim laps at Icebergs or surf the ocean.”

Noa, a mum of two, remembers the day she was inspired to create Vie Active. “It was an epiphany – I found myself still wearing my workout clothes at four in the afternoon and I hadn’t had time for a shower that day and I felt really revolting. I thought, there’s got to be a way I can do an intense workout and run throughout my day and not have to make this conscious choice between being fit and being stylish. And also feel as good at the end of the day as I do at the start of the day.”

What followed was a two-year journey of research and development and pushing the envelope in terms of garment technology and fabric and print innovations. “I was really clear that I wanted to fuse fitness and fashion, and function,” says Noa who felt there were a lot of brands that were either really fashionable but not very functional or the other way around. “I wanted to fuse the two and that’s how Vie Active came about.”

Vie Active teamed up with Woolmark, the world’s leading wool textile organisation, to use temperature regulating Merino wool in their garments. Merino fibres don’t react with sweat, keeps you warm in cooler climates and cool in a clammy environment.

“It’s the most amazing fabric,” boasts Noa. “People think it’s strange to work out in wool but I say try it for one workout and you’ll never work out in anything else. I wear merino every day because I have a busy life and don’t have time for five outfit changes. I still feel good, and chic. The fabric works with me instead of against me.”

Vie Active celebrated their first birthday last month and will launch into the US market via their online sales porthole on July 1st.

“It’s been amazing. It’s blown all of us away how positively people have responded to it and I think part of that is the authenticity. I had a vision to create a brand that spoke to women, it was less about ‘here’s the latest tights and jacket’, it was more about, ‘here’s the latest green smoothie, here are the benefits of a Barre workout, here’s five exercises to do while you’re travelling’. And to really communicate the latest trends and inspirations in wellness.”

The result is a community of Vie activists around the world! “Enabling women to live an active life without having to make a decision between being fit or stylish is really empowering and the easier we can make it for women to live an active life, the better.”

“It’s an amazing thing to be able to celebrate having an active life!”


I trialled Vie Active wear for myself when Noa put me through the Bondi Body Workout moves she designed to give us girls a toned and terrific bikini body. Not only comfortable and sweat repellant, the designs and prints are definitely something I felt good wearing from workout to doing the daily run around in.

Noa and I worked out at the Xtend Barre studio in Brooklyn Heights where they offer Pilates and dance amplified classes for beginners, advanced and mums with bubs. Check out their new client special – three classes for $49!

“The Bondi body to me is toned and fit, tight bottoms, trim thighs, toned arms and flat abs. Nothing’s better than Xtend Barre for all of those!”



Complete circuit 3 – 5 times.


-Plié squat – 20 reps

With one arm out level with your shoulder and the other hand on your hip, squat repetitively, keeping knees in line with ankles.

Plie squat is a signature move of Xtend Barre, it’s great for toning the bottom, inner thighs and by holding your arm out you’re working on those small inner muscles.

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-Tendu lift – 20 reps

Rest hands on bar or wall, softly bend inside leg and tilt and bend outside leg to a diagonal position as if you were swinging your leg over a bike.

Ideal for toning the side of bottom.

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-Hip raises with tricep dips – 20 reps

With arms behind you, lift hips up into the air and raise one leg and lower down, alternate legs while dipping arms down from behind.

Hits the area where the hamstring meets bottom – where bottom smiles 🙂

And helps the butt to lift.

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-Side planks with rotation – 20 reps

Start in plank position, roll hips over from one side to the other (meeting at plank in the middle) and make sure hips touch the floor on each side.

A signature move for chiseling the side of the abs.

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-Russian twists – 20 reps

Sitting up with legs in a table top position, twist from side-to-side with a medicine ball or similar

Attacks the deep abdominal muscles and obliques.

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-Leg flutters – 20 reps

Lie flat, with arms behind head and slowly raise legs up and down in a scissor repetition

You’ll feel this one in the lower abdominal muscles

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Get Vie Active!


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Vie Active offers high-performance garments for the fitness obsessed, is tried and tested on the shores of Australia’s famous Bondi Beach, and is now available in the US!

Husband and wife team Bryan and Noa Ries have long lived an active life as athletes and are dedicated to a healthy lifestyle. As a personal trainer and a mother of two, Noa, like many of us, often found herself still running around in her workout gear at 4pm. ‘I wanted to be wearing something better than lycra,’ she says. ‘Something that would let me feel fashionable and chic, but still handle the intensity of a tough workout.’

And viola, Vie Active, which uses Merino wool in its garments, was born! Merino wool is a fibre that keeps you cool and sweat-free (thanks to breathability and quick-dry fibres) when working out, and warmer in cooler climates thanks to its temperature regulating ability.

Tune into my new site Health Bird (live next week!) to work out with Noa and I as she takes me through the Bondi Body Workout.

Visit Vie Active to shop online (in Australia and the US)


Shot on location at Xtend Barre Brooklyn

Keli wearing: Vie Active Snow Leopard Lauren tight, Snow Leopard Lori sports bra, Lisa Racerback tank (Merino Perform Luxe Essentials)

Noa wearing: Vie Active Rockell tight in Snow Leopard, Lisa Racerback tank (Merino Perform Luxe Essentials)

Renault Roadtrip


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It was the perfect Autumn day when I grabbed a girlfriend and hit the highway in the new Renault Clio for a road trip to the NSW South Coast.

Keyless entry, and hands-free Bluetooth technology are just the beginning of what’s set to be a dynamic ride..

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Not only does the car show off its sexy curves while taking corners with precision (hello electronic stability control), it’s a driver’s dream with comfy seats and rockin’ sound system – the Renault Bass Reflex creates the volume and listening enjoyment of a 30-litre home speaker enclosure – so have your playlist ready!

The Clio’s safety standards are a standout, having been awarded Euro NCAP’s ‘Best Car of 2012’ in the ‘Super-mini’ class, earning it the highest 5-star safety rating.

Big bonus is the car’s fuel economy. Clio took us on a five-hour journey through the winding roads of the Royal National Park, with stops at the Scarborough Pub, Stanwell Park and Garie Beach and only used just over a quarter tank of petrol!

Check out for the fuel-efficient, shiny small car you need now!


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