Gemma Atkinson: ‘Why I gained weight during Strictly Come Dancing’
-Aug 29, Caroline Blight, Living -
We caught up with Gemma Atkinson – who impressed us all on TV’s Strictly Come Dancing last year – for an exclusive chat about life, love, fitness and what it’s really like to take part in such a competitive and gruelling show.
Gemma Atkinson wowed us all on Strictly Come Dancing last year with her powerful and athletic dance style. She made it to the final and really threw herself into the Strictly experience with her partner Aljaž Skorjanec. This year she will be watching the show from the sidelines, cheering on her boyfriend Gorka Marquez after the couple fell in love while making the series.
Since leaving the show Gemma has brought out her own fitness wear line and is a host on Hits Radio. We caught up with Gemma, 33, to find out how her Strictly experience changed her life.
Did Strictly change way you felt about fitness?
Strictly for me was great but the dancing, although it keeps you fit, it was by no means as full on as the training as I was used to. My body changed, I was heavier, I was softer. I was still very fit which was the main thing but I definitely put weight on during the show.
Why do you think that was?
Probably mainly because I relaxed my diet. Me and Aljaž we were training and we would grab what was available which was usually a jacket potato with cheese! And we used to get Pick and Mix which I would never normally do – every day! It was hard because I was waking up about 5.30am and getting home at 8pm. I could have properly prepped my food but at that time of the evening I used to just go straight upstairs and flop on the bed. That was it!
So you learnt how important diet is to your training…
Also it’s good to be in a position now where I know what to do the other side. I know if I go on holiday somewhere all-inclusive I can relax because it will only take me two weeks to get back to where I was before and really looking my best when I come home. I think if you know what needs to be done, it doesn’t matter if you go off the rails so to speak.
Are you sad not to be in Strictly this year?
A little bit but the lovely thing is I’m still going to go down and watch them and support everybody. I’m not going to miss the intensity of it, the show was so full on but I will miss the fun side of it. I had so much fun with Aljaž, I was literally laughing every single day, we got on so well. It’s going to be nice to watch it this year from an outsiders point of view knowing what everyone is going through. It would be nice to hopefully offer people so advice and support about how they can get through it.
What’s the main tip you would give anyone taking part?
Just to enjoy it and that sounds ridiculous but Mollie King, Simon Rimmer and I used to message each other every Wednesday and say ‘we’re having a Wednesday wobble!’. We used to panic, feel we couldn’t do it but at the end of the day it’s just a dance for a minute and a half. You get so stressed in the week about not knowing a step or not remembering it but you have to think ‘will it matter in a few weeks time?’ No it won’t. Just get it done and have fun with it.
You weren’t a fan of all the make-up and dresses so you won’t miss that side of it!
I won’t miss that at all! For the live shows we used to have to get in at 8am Saturday morning to start getting ready. I won’t miss having to wear the wigs and the false lashes, I didn’t enjoy that side of it. You are sitting in it for 12 hours before the show even starts.
Strictly did find you a man though! Do you think it helps your fitness goals to have a fit boyfriend?
I think it’s a good thing. I think if you have something common with somebody where by you both love training and you both love exercise I think it’s great. Gorka is great at keeping me motivated I had a photoshoot at the end of July and I kept saying I will just start training for it a couple of weeks before and he was like ‘why?’ Start now and put less pressure on yourself and it does make sense. I hate it when he’s right! It’s good to have that support and the drive behind him as well.
Are you a competitive couple in the gym?
Yes! He obviously lifts a lot heavier than I do and he’s fitter than I am but if I had to do 10 reps, four sets if Gorka wasn’t there I would maybe do eight and cheat but when he’s there I do the full 10! There is definitely something in it. I know it works for him too because when I’m there watching he likes to train that bit harder. You don’t want to embarrass each other or let each other down – you’ve got to keep going. It’s the same for him.
Have you taught each other anything from working out together?
I don’t think we have learned anything from each other training wise because we were both into it before we met but definitely food wise I have learned a lot. He’s a fantastic cook. I used to stick with the staples of chicken and fish where as Gorka will mix it all up or add his own sauce that he’s made. He’s great at making anything Spanish. He’s broadened my palette when it comes to food which is a great thing.
If you missed the first part of our interview with Gemma then find out why she eats avocado twice a day. And, if you enjoyed this, why not take a look at why Helena Christensen told us that she believes sometimes traditionally beautiful people can be ugly.