updated 01/24/2014 AT 7:00 PM ET
•originally published 01/25/2014 AT 11:00 AM ET
Brooke Burke-Charvet wants people to know one thing: that hot figure she flaunted at the gas station did not come easy.
The mother of four, 42, laughed when asked about the candid photos – in which she was clad in a sexy ensemble from her new Caelum activewear line – but she also explained how she maintains such a fit physique.
“Oh my God, [those photos] were everywhere!” the Dancing with the Stars co-host told PEOPLE on Friday. “It’s not when I’m all glammed up and walking out of the ballroom. It’s when I’m in the gas station in my booty shorts. It could have been bad. It could have been, ‘She’s 40. Who does she think she is?’ ”
But following much praise on the Web, Burke-Charvet, who just got back from working at Sundance’s Quaker Good Energy lounge, says: “I’m really big into a health and fitness kick and I teach a class a couple of times a week in Malibu and I have my DVD series. I’m totally working out harder than ever before, but I’m doing it in a smarter, quicker way. I don’t have more than an hour to spend anywhere, any time.”
Adds the TV personality, “I just feel like working to fatigue, pushing yourself to burn and pushing yourself to your limit every time you workout is what I’m totally into. I just think I’m smarter [about my body] than I was in my 20s and 30s.”
But Burke-Charvet pairs a healthy diet with her intense fitness regimen.
“I never miss breakfast,” she says. “I really believe in eating a well, smart-balanced diet. I believe in the good fuel and putting the right things in our body and drinking a lot of water and getting enough sleep. I think it all starts with nutrition and what we put in our body.”
Burke-Charvet, who refuses to use the words “fat” or “diet” in front of her kids, acknowledges she’s proud of her look.
“If not now, when?” she says. “I totally am working hard at it. It’s all good. I’m proud of the work that I’m doing. I work hard for [my fit physique], so I feel really good at 42, and I put in the time. There are no tips and tricks and secrets. It’s sweat, it’s hard work, it’s a commitment, and it feels good to be in shape.”
Next up for an equally sexy gas-pumping stance? Hopefully her co-host Tom Bergeron.
“If he did it to [mock] me, he’d do it with love,” Burke-Charvet says. “We totally make fun of each other.”