Minnesota fitness instructor and grandma Leslie Fhima is among the first crop of contestants competing for love on the new, highly anticipated reality series "The Golden Bachelor."
Fhima, 64, will be dating Gerry Turner, a 71-year-old widower from Indiana, on the show — a new twist on "The Bachelor" that features folks in their 60s and 70s, rather than their 20s and 30s.
But Fhima is no typical 64-year-old. The former professional figure skater leads Pilates retreats in Costa Rica. She has run 10 marathons. She snowboards.
"She's aging backwards," said her son, Eli Fhima.
Even her three grandchildren know that she's not your average grandma, calling her "glama" instead.
The ABC-TV show, which debuts Sept. 28, features Turner, a previously unknown retiree now being trailed by cameras.
Leslie Fhima has been in relationships with big names before. She split from her ex, restaurateur David Fhima, in the '90s. In her late teens and early 20s, she dated Prince, who wrote the song "Sexy Dancer" about her, according to her son.
But she left him to tour Europe with the Ice Follies.
"Not only did she date Prince," Eli Fhima said, "but she broke up with Prince."
When his mother enters a room, instantly, "it's a better environment, a more relaxed environment, a more playful environment," said Eli Fhima, director of operations for his father's restaurant portfolio, which includes Fhima's Minneapolis and Maison Margaux.
Growing up in the family business, he understands hospitality. He used to think that came from his father's side, his Moroccan culture. "But truthfully, I got it from my mom," he said. She's quick to hold a door open, to help someone across the street.
"Her hospitality is not for profession. It's a way of life."
Ahead of the September premiere, Turner, the franchise's first senior citizen "Bachelor," has charmed audiences.
The former restaurateur married his high school sweetheart, Toni, in 1974, and they raised two daughters together. In 2017, she died after a sudden illness. For years, he didn't date. But now, he's ready.
During an episode of "The Bachelorette," host Jesse Palmer asked Turner whether he thought he could find a love like that again.
He shook his head.
What he's looking for in his 70s is different from what he wanted in his teens and 20s, Turner said. "I believe I'll find my person, the new person that will make me whole again," he continued. "But I don't think it'll look like the relationship I had with Toni.
"I don't think it would be right to do it that way."
Spoilers about the coming season include predictions that Leslie Fhima advances to so-called "hometown" dates, which would bring Turner and the ABC-TV production team to Minneapolis. She's featured prominently in a trailer for the show:
"Why are you ready to find love now?" a producer asks.
"I've been ready for a long time!" she responds with a warm laugh, her dimples deep.
"She is looking for love," Eli Fhima said.
Back in middle school, he and his mom used to watch "The Bachelor" together, he said. Since then, she's kept up with the show. So when they announced the spinoff for older adults, she applied.
Her official bio, on the ABC website, notes that "when she isn't working at the gym, Leslie is an incredible mom to her three kids and 'glama' to her three grandkids."
Fhima was featured in a Star Tribune article in 2020 about the "new breed of active, tech-savvy grandparents."
She spoke then about sledding with her grandkids, about teaching her grandson to snowboard. "We swim together in the summer, we have dance parties.
"I keep their car seats in my car so we're always ready to go," Fhima said then. "I used to joke, that's a real buzzkill when guys walk me to my car after a date."