Bodywatch

Faith Hill's Birthday Gift to Herself: Bikini Photo Shoot

10/20/2008 at 09:45 AM EDT

Faith Hill's Birthday Gift to Herself: Bikini Photo Shoot
James Houston/Beatrice Represents/Shape Magazine

Faith Hill

Faith Hill

Faith Hill's beautiful face has adorned covers of CDs and magazines before, but for the first time ever she's posing in a bikini.

What gave her the bravery? Pilates.

"I could bend in ways I haven't been able to since I was a teenager," the Nashville-based star tells Shape magazine for its December issue (on sale Nov. 10). "My husband [Tim McGraw] loves it!"

Her new routine is done with an instructor, and comes after years of waffling when it comes to working out.

"I was always very athletic, playing basketball and softball and running track," she says.

Lifestyle Change

"But in my 20s and 30s, I'd go through phases with exercise, working out for four weeks before a big tour or video shoot and not doing much afterward. Then I had three kids [with McGraw, daughters Gracie, 11; Maggie, 10; and Audrey, 6] and turned 40, so I decided to make a lifestyle change."

There was another consideration: knee surgery in January forced her to cease exercising for six months. "I had never gone that long without doing something," she says. "I was not happy."

In July she and McGraw began a daily routine that included four miles on the elliptical, light weight lifting, crunches and push-ups.

"I found I slept better, had more energy and was stronger," says Hill, who then increased her regime to include Pilates classes three times a week.

"It was so hard, but ultimately so worth it. My core is much stronger, and my arms are more toned. In fact, wearing a bikini on a magazine cover is my 41st birthday present to myself."

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