We met with Karen Michibata to talk modeling, famous sisters, juggling life with the kids and how a Brazilian dance has helped her stay fit.

by Matthew Hernon

With their beautiful exotic looks and perfectly toned bodies, the Michibata sisters have taken the modeling world by storm in recent years and are now household names in Japan. Interest in the three ladies has unsurprisingly intensified since middle sister, Jessica, started dating Formula One driver Jenson Button, but even before he came along they were already well established models.

Oldest sibling Karen led the way, making her modeling debut aged just 15. Almost twenty years on, she now has two children and an extremely hectic lifestyle, yet after Weekender sat down with the 33-year-old to hear about her career it was clear that her passion for the business was as strong as ever.

Karen Michibata and the Women Who Inspired Her

“I really love my profession,” she says. “Since I can remember I have always wanted to be a model and my mother really encouraged me too. I remember her leaving fashion magazines out for me to look at when I got home from nursery school. I was mesmerized by the girls I saw, thinking I really want to be like them.

That desire got even stronger as I got older and supermodels like Linda Evangelista became increasingly prominent in the media. To be in the same industry as people like that is a dream for me and I feel privileged everyday.”

Younger sisters Jessica and Angelica followed the same path despite not being interested in modeling during their youth; Jessica in fact famously wanted to be a coroner. Now all three are enjoying prosperous careers and all the benefits and prestige that the job brings.

Dance That Baby Weight Off!

That said the life of a model is not all about gorgeous clothes and glamorous parties. Working days can be long and are often tedious, there is also the constant battle to stay in shape under intense scrutiny that they have to face. It would seem that Karen has no problem in that department though, despite having given birth to two children. So what are her tips for mothers keen to keep their figure in check post pregnancy?

Karen Michibata's DVD cover

How the DVD cover looks in Japan

“I used exercise methods inspired by Capoeira,” she says. “It is a Brazilian martial art, though some of its roots can be traced back to a dance from the Southwest of Africa (known as the N’golo) that imitates the movements of zebras. You use your whole body so it is a great way to keep in shape. Unfortunately, I have been busy training for marathons and triathlons over the part twelve months so I haven’t really had a chance to do it during that period.

Model, Writer, Lover of Life

I have also been working on a training book and DVD called Bi Line Stretching. The reason why I chose to concentrate on stretching is that there are benefits for people of all ages, whether they engage in physical fitness or not. My aim it to help women feel more beautiful, concentrating specifically on the bust, waist and hip.”

It is her second exercise book after Cougar Body Method and she is planning to produce more in the future. On top of these projects and her fitness programme, she also studies English, with a private tutor coming to her home. She has so much on her plate, one wonders where this single working mother of two finds the time to fit it all in? Managing such a busy schedule sounds impossible to me, but it all seems to come so effortlessly for her and she puts that down to one thing: being a woman!

“I think most men struggle when they have to do a variety of tasks,” she says laughing. “I think us ladies have more faces, we can adapt to different situations much better. Going from a working environment to then have to cook for your children, some people would find it difficult, but it is natural for me.

At the end of the day, I just love being busy. I am always up at 5:30am, go for a five or 6km jog, make breakfast for the kids, take them to school, go to work, come home and spend time with my children. I try to not waste a second.”

Karen’s new book and DVD, Bi Line Stretching was released on January 28, 2013. She blogs at ameblo.jp/karen-michibata/