Paula Abdul On Dance, Gratitude & Prepping for Her Las Vegas Show

What ’80s or ’90s kid wasn’t just a little obsessed with Paula Abdul? Thankfully, now any fan can satisfy their love for the pop icon by seeing her perform her new show, “Paula Abdul: Forever Your Girl,” at the Flamingo Las Vegas.

SheKnows talked with Paula about how she gets her mind and body ready for the show. After all, it takes a ton of strength and stamina to keep audiences entertained six days a week — and at age 56 to boot. That’s “straight up” amazing.

SheKnows: Give us the scoop. How did you prepare for your residency in Las Vegas?

Paula Abdul: I have definitely upped my stretching! Pilates and yoga are part of my regular routine and I’ve increased them to keep myself prepared for my Las Vegas residency. I have longer warm-ups and I also get massages and a lot of rest! Actually, I’ve increased rehearsals, too! Rehearsal at the Flamingo is particularly sacred because it’s such an iconic space. I’m there to share my love of singing, dancing and the art of performing itself. There’s nothing like coming together with fellow dancers and creating something magical that we’ll get to share as a unified body.

SK: You’re so fit! What does your workout routine like? 

PA: It varies. I don’t like to feel like I’m locked into anything that’s too regimented. I do work out at the gym with a personal trainer. There are certain workouts just live on my calendar — yoga, Pilates, dance and dance fitness — then there’s what I like to call my “freestyle fitness”: walking the stairs, hiking, taking my dogs for a walk. I love the outdoors and it’s really great for my overall wellbeing to just get out into the open air.

SK: You also have a fresh perspective on healthy eating. Can you tell us about that?

PA: I’ve never been a fan of diets. In the past, diets were what I did to force myself into a certain way of living and beating myself up for not looking like or being like someone else. I am a fan of loving and accepting myself exactly how I am in this moment right now—not in a few months, a few years ago. That’s actually what helps me eat foods that nourish my body, keep me feeling good, add to my overall health and support my goals as a woman, a dancer and a performer. So I eat lean protein, vegetables and I drink plenty of water. Sometimes I’ll have a sweet treat. However, I don’t count calories, or bully or shame myself into eating (or not eating) certain foods when I don’t “eat perfectly.” I have learned from experience that when I treat myself this way it adds so much joy to my life. 

SK: How do you mentally prep to perform your best under pressure? How has that changed over the years?

PA: I get plenty of rest and drink plenty of water! I can’t be mentally prepared if I’m not well rested and hydrated.

I also have a gratitude meditation practice that I do first thing in the morning. Afterward I write affirmations.

I do a lot of affirmations now. I want my mind filled with positive thoughts. I make sure to set a half-hour for myself to acknowledge what a privilege it is to perform and to live a life surrounded by dance — my first love and my greatest passion. I stretch, I breathe and I just take it all in.

Years ago I don’t think I paused as much — I was just so excited, I’d just go straight into a performance! Now, I actually have a special meditation to acknowledge and thank my body — my legs, my back, my arms, my neck, my feet and my hands. I also focus on my gratitude for the crew, the dancers, the Flamingo Hotel and its staff. Everyone is being so generous with their time and energy.

Also, I’ve always made sure that the dancers and I laugh, get silly and have fun before we go onstage. When it gets closer to show time, we have a quiet moment where we hold hands and just get quiet and feel each other’s presence. We can hear the audience from backstage, and we take in their joy and excitement. It really connects us with our love for each other, for the art of song and dance, for everyone who comes to see us and for everyone who’s with us in spirit.

SK: How do you practice self-care?

Eating healthy, resting and meditation are vital self-care practices for me. Staying connected with family and friends is also part of my self-care. Getting in touch, visiting with them when I can and seeing what everyone’s doing. The people in my life are so important to me so I make sure we keep in touch. Playing with my dogs and taking them for long walks is huge for my self-care, too. They’re my four-legged family members and they bring so much happiness to my life!

SK: What have you learned about your health over the years?

Being a performer has taught me that my health is a work in constant progress — it is a progressive state of body, mind and spirit. I’ve really learned that my health is the result of small investment habits — eating healthy, continuing to dance, stretch and exercise — that I’ve made over time. Looking back, I don’t think when I was a little girl or a teenager that I ever dreamed that today I’d be reaping the rewards of years of healthy meals, stretch sessions, plies, pirouettes, crunches, leaps and even rest periods! Taking all these small steps over time keeps my thoughts positive, gives me great energy and helps me focus on myself and everyone else in a positive way. My health is a priceless jewel. Intentionally neglecting it or being passive about it is one of the worst things that any human being can do in terms of health. Not nurturing our overall wellness has an effect over time that none of us should want to experience.

SK: Seriously, what’s your secret to looking so fantastic?

PA: I dance every day — even if it’s just for a few minutes in my living room! I drink lots of water. To protect my skin, I never leave the house without sunscreen. I also keep my skin and body revitalized with InMode BodyTite and FaceTite. I love that it’s a transformation I can see! It’s created a sleek, radiant look without any invasive surgeries.

SK: What is your favorite part of performing?

My favorite part of performing is making eye contact with people in the audience, having a connection. It’s such a great moment to look into people’s eyes and really feel and share their excitement. The people who come to my shows are a part of my life. They are my inspiration and such an enormous source of my joy. I really love them and love that they’ve come to see me perform.

SK: What excited you most about the Vegas residency? 

I’m excited that one of my big dreams is being realized! Having a Las Vegas residency was one of my big dreams. I read that when the Flamingo was built it was the first hotel visible on the Las Vegas Strip to people coming from the west. As far as this this Southern California girl is concerned, there’s something sweetly poetic about that. I’m truly honored to have a residency here.

This interview was edited for clarity and length.

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