Thomson, 45, thought nothing of it, though, as she knelt down with a giant smile on her face and tossed me over her shoulder (with a surprising amount of strength). “You never know what nature is going to throw at you,” Torres explained, as we bounced down the field. And thanks to time with Torres, Thomson seems ready for most of it.
It was all part of a regular training session she has with Torres—during which we also crawled, sprinted, and squatted in the grass barefoot—preparing her for a serious mountain-climbing expedition she’s embarking on in July. She’ll cover four 14,000-foot peaks in one day to raise funds and awareness for the charity No Barriers, which empowers teens, people with disabilities, and wounded veterans to overcome their obstacles and reach their potential.
While Thomson’s been making headlines on this season of The Real Housewives of New York City (mainly for her verbal sparring with Skinnygirl founder Bethenny Frankel), the No Barriers climb and her training at Willspace are part of a different image she’s building for herself both on- and off-screen—as an advocate for health, wellness, and giving back.
“This started with me proving myself to Will, and then I started to see the changes in my body,” says Thomson, who’s intense and animated in person and seems to end every sentence with, “You know what I mean?!” She found a calling, and in her life off camera devotes a ton of time and energy to it. “Working with Will put me on a whole new trajectory that reignited my passion for health and nutrition,” Thomson explains.
She was inspired to enroll in the Institute for Integrative Nutrition’s health coach certification program last year, and she’s currently completing the classes. “I’m testing all of the different diet theories on myself,” she says.
And while she’s somewhat new to the wellness world, Thomson makes the case that it’s a natural fit for her. She says her women’s apparel brand, Yummie by Heather Thomson, (which started with shapewear) has always been about empowering women to be healthy and productive, and last year, she expanded the line to include activewear. “My brand is encouraging,” she says. “Yummie’s about confidence and making our lives easier as women, clothes that are versatile and work with us in our busy lives, and that make us look and feel our best.”
More importantly, though, Thomson sees helping others and overcoming challenges as a huge part of her wellness lifestyle. Her initial reason for going on Real Housewives, she tells me, was to draw attention to the rare (and often fatal) liver condition her young son, Jax, was born with, and the No Barriers climb is a continuation of that effort.
“No Barriers stands for just that—you are capable of anything you want to do, no matter what your challenges are,” she says. For Jax, it’s chronic lung disease and hearing loss. “He has barriers, if you will, but I’m teaching him the No Barriers lifestyle.”
It’s a lifestyle she embodies whether she’s attending Hamptons brunch parties on camera or lifting a heavy sandbag over her head in preparation for potentially having to help a fellow hiker off the mountain.
“I’m going to be climbing this mountain, and I’m going to be doing it with people who have prosthetics, who have no vision, who have no hearing, who have been wounded at war…people who have lost something…and together we’ll gain it all back on that mountain,” she says.
Of course, in Real Housewives fashion, amid all that camaraderie, she can’t help but throw in a little jab at her co-stars. “To be honest with you, I don’t see a lot of the other women using the platform to promote others,” she says. “They do a hell of a job promoting themselves.” —Lisa Elaine Held
(Photos: WillSpace for Well+Good)