Chloe Madeley: 'Finding fitness has changed me in all the right ways, for all the right reasons ... it makes me feel relieved, strong, capable, driven'
Daughter of TV royalty Richard and Judy Chloe Madeley opens up to Liz Connor about beating panic attacks, and her fitness career
She's the strong, straight-talking personal trainer with 175k followers on Instagram and a love for lifting weights, but before discovering fitness six years ago, Chloe Madeley was battling demons. "I was a really insecure 20-something, who had depressive tendencies, drank too much and would have quite severe panic attacks. I wasn't a happy bunny at all," reveals Madeley, the daughter of TV's Richard and Judy.
But finding fitness at 24, through her personal trainer ex-boyfriend Danny Young, changed everything - helping Madeley conquer her mental health issues, forge her own personal training career, and cut loose from her former 'wild child' ways.
"It's changed me in all the right ways, for all the right reasons," says the 30-year-old, who recently starred as a body coach in MTV's Beach Body: SOS. "To find something that makes me feel relieved, strong, capable, driven and in control - I just feel so incredibly lucky. Some people figure that out in their 50s, so finding a passion and having the balls to pursue it was totally life-changing for me."
She's happy, chatty and bubbly over the phone, despite a heavy cold - "I'm quite poorly, so it's nice to just be able to sit and chat nonsense!" - and is excited about the recent release of her first book, The 4-Week Body Blitz, an exercise and nutrition guide designed to transform your body shape in just 28 days. "I wanted to write a book that proves you can eat all day, train for no more than half an hour, five days a week, and get incredible results in a short space of time," she says.
Her own remarkable body transformation - from a slim size 10 to a muscular size eight - inspired it, helping her create a simple and effective plan for shedding fat and toning up, without the need for expensive gym equipment. "I have photo shoots frequently throughout the year, which means I've become quite good at short turn-around body transformations. It's not only a thing for fitness models and competitors, it's something your average Joe can do at home too."
She insists you don't have to be a slave to the treadmill to get the body you want for a big occasion, like a wedding or beach holiday. "It just takes a lot of discipline; you don't have to starve yourself and or live in a gym 24/7. You really can change your body in a short space of time, in a healthy way. You just have to be really diligent."
The last four weeks, she admits, have been tough: she's lived by the Body Blitz mantra along with her followers, meaning she's religiously hit the gym six days a week and stuck to a strict diet. Now, she says she's looking forward to taking some time off from maintaining her enviable six-pack. "I really want to bring my diet back to normality and focus on weightlifting, which is the side of training that I love, and not worry so much about how I look."
Anyone who follows her on Instagram will know she's a huge advocate of female weightlifting. "I saw a debate on Good Morning Britain [recently] about women looking masculine when they lift a weight," she scoffs. "I mean, it's pathetic and embarrassing; you're encouraging women not to do something that's incredibly beneficial to their bodies. I feel great when I see women of any age in the weights section. I think, 'Good on you, you're basically saying f*** you to the mainstream media'."
Alongside her social media presence and book deal, Madeley's built a fitness empire through her personal training business and blog, Fitness Fondue. But it isn't all burpees and bench presses ("I do have a life outside of the gym!" she says with a laugh). Her ideal weekend involves sleeping in with her rugby player boyfriend James Haskell, then lounging in front of the TV and enjoying a romantic dinner and glass of wine later.
"I have to admit, I'm just not as fun as I used to be. I'm old and boring now," she jokes. "When I'm having a day off with James and there's wine involved, that's when I'm at my happiest."
It's clear the pair are completely smitten. "James is probably the most supportive, intelligent, funny, sweet-natured partner I've ever had, it's done nothing but enhance my life," she gushes, although she confesses the romance wasn't immediate. Madeley recalls how Haskell "flooded" her Twitter inbox with messages, before setting up a fake business meeting about a female supplement range in order to coax her into to a face-to-face rendezvous.
"I don't think there was any girl left in the world for him to contact over social media and try to have sex with!" she teases, laughing. "I was one of thousands he hounded, he would not leave me alone. But I think I was one of far fewer that refused to meet up with him.
"I actually wanted nothing to do with him, even when I first saw him - I just wanted to punch him in the face immediately! Then he started speaking and I realised how articulate, intelligent and funny he was, and that was it for me."
So are marriage and kids on the cards any time soon? "The kids thing is terrifying to me, so it's definitely very much on hold. James is now 32, he's got a few years left in the tank to really focus on rugby, and that's okay because my career's going from strength-to-strength and I don't feel like I'm wanting for anything in my life right now. But do I want us to get married? Yes. Do I know anything could happen at any time? Yes. I guess all the pressure is on him and I don't need to think about anything other than saying 'yes'."
The future looks bright for Madeley. She's just signed a second book deal (a follow-up to The 4-Week Body Blitz) and is excited to potentially have "a little travel adventure on the cards" with Haskell, whose contract at Wasps RFC ends in June. "We've discussed it and he basically said, 'Look, no matter where I go next, I'd really like you to come with me', and because I'm self-employed, I can do that. He's got five options on the table and I don't know which one he's going to choose. I'm hoping we go somewhere hot!"
Ex On The Beach: Body SOS continues on MTV on Wednesdays