Belfast Telegraph

Home Life Weekend

How To Get Fit Fast: Seeing all these gym-perfect bodies makes me feel so low, says host Anna Richardson

Still searching for the perfect exercise for you? Anna Richardson and Amar Latif are back with another dose of How To Get Fit Fast — and this time it’s all about working smarter, they tell Gemma Dunn

We're a nation divided by fitness - but Anna Richardson and Amar Latif are putting on a united front as they prepare for the return of their series, How To Get Fit Fast.

From ultramarathons to Tough Mudder to low intensity steady state (LISS), the Channel 4 lifestyle show is resolute in its mission to help the population work out which exercise is right for them, dispel workout myths and uncover the fastest way to get fit.

And with viewers more health-obsessed than ever, the presenter duo are positive it will, again, strike the right chord.

"I represent the average British female," begins Richardson (47). "I'm of average fitness - if not a little below. I'm carrying too much body fat and I'm genuinely not interested in exercise," she admits. "So it's about finding the easy thing that works for me.

"Amar said something absolutely brilliant earlier on, he said, 'The key to finding the exercise that you're going to enjoy is to believe that you're not exercising'.

"This programme is about being believable and achievable," she adds. "Whereas when I look at some of the DVDs that are out there, and the exercise and nutrition books, I think, 'I'm never going to be able to do that' and nor do I want to."

"Absolutely!" agrees Latif (43), who contends we all have busy lives and the question is how we can fit exercise into it.

"What if you can sneak it into your daily routine without actually allocating any specific time for it?" asks the presenter, who is registered blind, having lost 95% of his sight by the age of 19 due to an incurable eye condition.

"For example, one of the things I look at is the cycling and it's noted that people who cycle to work are, on average, one stone lighter than people who don't."

"But it doesn't have to be cycling," he is quick to point out. "It's about working smarter."

It's about finding something that's enjoyable and doesn't leave you feeling guilty, Shropshire-born Richardson notes.

"I can't emphasise enough how low it can make me feel seeing all these gym-perfect bodies," she says. "I want to be healthy and attractive but still really womanly - and without having a massive six-pack!"

She follows: "I certainly feel the pressure of social media. Who can't, really? But I'm very at ease with myself, particularly having done this show.

"It's made me focus on what is achievable for me and the specific areas that I need to change," she reasons. "So for example, I discovered that I have way too much visceral fat and I've also got high cholesterol.

"So that for me has raised a huge red flag in terms of, 'Whoa, hang on a minute, my dad had a heart attack and two strokes. If I'm not careful, even though I'm not overweight, I'm going to really struggle."

As well as upping her physicality, she's also turned her back on alcohol.

"I recognised that I was one of those people that was using the glass of wine in the evening as a bit of an emotional crutch and a de-stresser," she confides.

"So I've given up the booze, I've resolved to bring my cholesterol down and I've resolved to lose a stone and to exercise daily.

"It's down to me and Sue to do at least two hours of walking with the dog every day," she says, referring to her famous partner, Sue Perkins. "And to make sure we're in a green space, because it benefits my mental health."

"Everything else is secondary: your health and wellbeing is so important," echoes Latif. "You can succeed in whatever you do, but if you don't have that, then nothing is great. Nothing feels good."

Adopting a healthier attitude towards screen time - namely social media - could help too, believe the pair.

"You can become obsessed with it and then that obsession can turn into a de-motivation or the other extreme - it becomes an addiction," muses Richardson.

"Sue and I have just introduced a rule that when we're together at night, from 8pm onwards, when we've settled down to watch TV, we put our phones down and try not to become obsessed with Twitter or Instagram or whatever it is."

"I actually now switch my phone off and put it in the drawer," Latif adds. "Even having your phone near you isn't a healthy thing at night, and it's brilliant - I get that peace of mind when it switches off.

"I mean, it must be a worrying thing when even a blind guy gets de-motivated," quips the Glaswegian, laughing. "Facebook has started to describe the pictures, so even I can't get away with it. All the photographs have a little caption on them: 'Man with six-pack'."

Taking his disability in his stride, the entrepreneur - who became known through the groundbreaking reality series, Beyond Boundaries - is an advocate for change.

For one, he set up Traveleyes in 2004, the world's first commercial tour operator to specialise in holidays for blind as well as sighted travellers.

He's set to lead a trip out to Tuscany next month, whereby fully sighted teenagers from international schools act as the eyes for the blind travellers.

"They don't expect a blind person to do the things that I do," says Latif.

"People are ignorant to that, but I don't mind because if I was fully sighted I wouldn't know how a blind person did things. I see it as a great opportunity to help change perceptions."

Meanwhile Richardson, who is known for tackling taboo topics on TV, has set up an online therapy business Mindbox to help those suffering with mental health issues.

Will she always see it as her duty to speak out for others?

"I don't have a self-edit button, so it's really, really important to me that I try and speak the truth as much as possible, no matter how uncomfortable that may be," she answers.

"Certainly with the Sex Education show, and now Naked Attraction and Revenge Porn, these topics are extremely important for the next generation to have an open conversation about sex, sexuality, gender identity and the whole #MeToo campaign," she concludes. "All of that is crucial."

Episode one of How To Get Fit Fast will air on Channel 4 on Tuesday, 8pm. The remaining two episodes will air later this year

Still searching for the perfect exercise for you? Anna Richardson and Amar Latif are back with another dose of How To Get Fit Fast - and this time it's all about working smarter, they tell Gemma Dunn

Belfast Telegraph

Daily News Headlines Newsletter

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox.


From Belfast Telegraph