Kimberly Wyatt: 'I feel very grown-up now I'm a mother'
Former Pussycat Doll Kimberly Wyatt survived a tricky childhood and found fame. She tells Gabrielle Fagan how becoming a parent has changed her life
There's the pounding beat of Oasis track Live Forever in the background as Kimberly Wyatt dances around the kitchen with her four-month-old daughter Willow in her arms. "I think she instinctively loves music and rhythm because it's so familiar to her. After all, she experienced it all the time she was inside me," says the former star of girl-band Pussycat Dolls and former judge on Sky's Got To Dance. She even danced in the competition's semi-finals last summer when six months pregnant.
For someone who started dancing aged seven, the glamorous, blonde 33-year-old - once dubbed the "flexi-cat" in the globally famous Dolls because of her ability to raise her leg so high it went behind her ear - is still brimming with energy although her life has changed dramatically since she married model Max Rogers last February and gave birth to their daughter in December.
"Motherhood's flipped my life upside down, but in such a great way. This is a new adventure and I love every minute of it. I am different now because having Willow's made me feel really grown-up in a way I've never felt before," she says.
Today, Wyatt's in a reflective mood at her home in London and readily opens up about everything from her determination to create a "fairy tale" family life and give her daughter a childhood experience far removed from her own troubled one, to how TV presenter Davina McCall is a "mother figure".
"Although I realised marriage was the foundation of making a life together with another person, having a child takes things to a whole new level. It's a completion I never knew existed and I fell in love with Willow straight away," says Wyatt, who was raised in Missouri, America, and left home aged only 14 after winning a scholarship for a New York dance academy.
"All my life I've constantly travelled the world and when I finally found my Englishman, I decided to settle here and work at family in just the same way I've worked at my career. I'm aiming to juggle the two - I'll never give up dancing and singing - but Max and Willow are now my priority. It' so lovely now she's interacting with me and I want to bring her up as a little English girl, so I want her to call me 'mum' not the American 'mom'."
Her fulfilment in parenting is equalled by a commitment to move on from the pain of her past by providing a happy, secure environment for her child. She's previously spoken movingly of being molested at the age of three and being the victim of an attempted rape aged 17 when, following graduation, she worked as a dancer on cruise ships.
"I am particularly determined to become a great mum because I had a difficult upbringing. That's something I've thought about a lot," she says.
"I think me and my mom were kind of unfortunate in a way because she didn't have a mother when she was growing up and then she became a mother to me when she was very young and at a stage in her life when she probably didn't really know how to be one.
"Now I get a chance to change that cycle. I know it can be done because my mom made some really positive changes in her life for me and I'm hoping to make positive changes for my little one. Mom's flown over and was thrilled to meet her grand-daughter and we have a lovely relationship nowadays."
Most crucial to her contentment, however, is her relationship with husband, Max (32), who she met four years ago and to whom she's clearly devoted.
"We're totally in love, deeply attracted to each other and are best friends," she says of her hunky husband, who recently posted a picture on Twitter of his "inspiring" wife's enviable toned stomach and praised her for her "hard graft" undertaken to regain her shape.
"We're both into creating our fairy tale life together and trying to find ways to bring out the fairy tale in ourselves. He's super supportive, a hands-on dad and surrounds me with love and adoration," she gushes.
For support outside her family Wyatt turns to mother of three and TV presenter Davina McCall, while her former bandmate and fellow American Ashley Roberts is a constant visitor and "honorary auntie".
"Davina and I met five years ago when she presented Got To Dance and we became great friends. As my mom's not here, she's like a mother figure to me and someone I can call on for advice and tips on motherhood," she says.
"It makes such a difference to have people around you that you can trust and that care for you. She told us about the name Willow and it sort of stuck with us and we decided it was perfect once our daughter was born. Davina's such a great role model for me because she shows you can make it happen as a mum and a career woman and juggle successfully. I'm so lucky too that Ashley's one of my best friends, the first person at the hospital after I'd had Willow, and is always coming over to help."
Wyatt, who last year took part in ITV's winter sports daredevil series, The Jump, is working on TV and music projects, but currently personal fitness is her most immediate challenge.
"Having had a caesarean, I knew getting my toned stomach back would be that much harder, but I started massing my tummy muscles very quickly after giving birth so that my movements wouldn't be too restricted when I started training again six weeks later," says this engaging young woman, who's taking part in the Vitality World Triathlon London (May 30-31).
"I have a balanced diet, which includes fish, chicken, pasta, salads and dried fruit for snacks, and do lots of yoga, walking and light work-outs with weights and an exercise bike. I've also worked to get back my pre-baby body with the help of MaxiNutrition Promax Lean, a protein shake which helps me maintain a high protein diet. And with the challenge of my first triathlon to aim for, I think I'm well on the way and feeling like a mum on a mission!"
Reflecting on the years since the Pussycat Dolls (whose line-up included Nicole Scherzinger) disbanded in 2010, Wyatt, who joined the group in 2003 says: "It was amazing, but it seems like a lifetime ago because my life's changed in so many incredible ways.
"I've never sought fame. All I've ever wanted is to enjoy my passion, dance. I think the modern emphasis on being a celebrity is not good. As my little girl grows up, I'll encourage her to follow whatever is her passion and also try to instil in her self-worth and confidence.
"I find myself marvelling at how well my life has worked out. Even though I'm often sleep deprived these days, it feels pretty perfect and I know I'm very lucky! I have a tattoo on my wrist saying 'Love Life' and I do."
The UK's leading sports nutrition brand, MaxiNutrition, is supporting Kimberly Wyatt to be at her best in 2015 #MyGoal. Find out more at maxinutrition.com or on Twitter via @MaxiNutrition.