We all know Harry Judd is really fit – just look at this magazine cover. But as he releases his first book, Get Fit, Get Happy, the McFly drummer tells us that doing regular exercise is about so much more than looking shredded
and posting a #progress selfie.
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Shortly after completing his Gay Times cover shoot, Harry Judd tells us stripping off for the camera is no big deal anymore. “I’ve kind of just become immune to it. I literally don’t get shy about it now,” says the McFly drummer, Strictly Come Dancing winner and fitness advocate. “I did The Full Monty [for an ITV show] a few months ago, so where else is there to go? I can’t get any more naked. And actually, there’s something liberating and quite exciting about it. The first time I did a naked shoot, it was with the band, so we had each other to mess around and cringe with. But on my own, it’s not a problem – I’m not going to lie, I’ve always been a bit of a poser. You look at photos of me as a teenager and I’m pulling all these ridiculous faces! I actually enjoy doing naked shoots.” Of course, it helps that Harry is disrobing to promote something he’s super-passionate about: his new book Get Fit, Get Happy. If you follow Harry on Instagram (and we’re guessing a few of you do), you’ll know that exercise is a major part of his daily life. He loves keeping fit, but isn’t quite so keen on the way the fitness industry often markets its products. “I do feel that within fitness there’s too much focus on the result,
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and the result being how you look,” he explains. “Whereas the main reason I train is because it makes me feel better. When I started really getting into exercise again, initially it was about, ‘Yeah, I wanna get in shape.’ But I soon discovered that actually there are so many other benefits to fitness, and I feel very strongly about those.”
And these benefits, Harry says, aren’t exclusively physical. “You know, I’ve suffered with anxiety in the past, but exercise has really helped to regulate my stress. It’s helped me cope with anxiety much better because it’s given me a really good focus in life. At first I actually found it hard to get this message across in the book, because at no point did I want this to become a sob story or a ‘poor me’ kind of thing.
“The fact is, I’ve been really lucky – I have a blessed life and I love being in McFly. But that doesn’t make me immune from suffering from things that other people suffer from. Being in a band for so many years, there have been times when my life has had no structure and no routine, and so exercise became this one constant that I could focus on. It’s something productive, you know? And it helped me sleep better and eat better, which in turn helped with my anxiety too. Now, I get frustrated if I don’t exercise. When I get like that, my wife will be like, ‘Fuck off Harry, get out the house, go the gym.’ So I do!”
But the gym isn’t for everyone, of course. Some of us don’t mind the guys grunting, the constant queue for the squat rack, and the ostentatious crash of dumbbells on a linoleum floor. Other people would rather their spare hour watching Gemma Collins clips on YouTube with a hefty G&T. If you fall into the latter camp, Harry says his book is for you.
“I’ve found that the four main reasons people don’t exercise is because they don’t have enough time, they don’t have the money to join a gym, they don’t have the motivation, and they’re maybe a bit intimidated. So I had these things in my mind constantly when I was coming up with the exercise programme in the book.
There are workouts in the book that are only 10 minutes long – and they’re fun, which is hopefully a good motivation for people. And there’s no equipment involved. You can do these workouts in your garden, your bedroom or your staircase, just using everyday items.
“This isn’t me saying: ‘Go to the gym.
Eat this much protein.’ Because that puts a lot of people off. I wanted this to be an accessible fitness book that takes the pressure out of getting fit. Hopefully people will do it and find they feel happier and more positive and want to keep doing it.”
And if they also notice a change in the way they look, that’s a bonus, right? “Oh don’t get me wrong – that’s a great motivator. It’s a great motivator for me – everyone likes to look good and I like feeling confident in my skin as much as anyone. But it’s not all about that. Of course today I want to look good on the cover of Gay Times, but I don’t obsess over it because that would just make me unhappy.
“I have a blessed life and I love being in McFly. But
that doesn’t make me immune from suffering.”
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“I had a packet of crisps before the shoot and I didn’t think anything of it. And some banana bread actually. If my whole existence was based on how shredded
I can get, I think I’d get a bit depressed about life. Because I just think there’s more to life than looking good. It’s about balance.”
A few days after the shoot, Harry and wife Izzy welcome their second child, a brother for their one-year-old daughter. At 31, he’s a family man now, and maintains close ties with McFly, who’re now working on their sixth album – 13 years after they released their first.
“The difference between McFly and most pop bands is we write all our music, we play all our music, and we’re in total control of everything from the artwork to our live shows,” Harry says when asked to explain the band’s longevity.
“It’s been a gradual process – we were slightly more manufactured to begin with – but we’ve always had that kind of creative integrity. For other pop bands – and we’ve seen some great pop bands come and go – they reach their peak, maybe dip a bit, and then one of them wants to go solo. Whereas for us, this is an ongoing project: we can do what we want when we want, and no one tells us what to do.
“And let’s face it: we’re also still doing this because we get on so well. We’ve been through so much together that there’s almost this mutual unspoken understanding there. It’s a special bond to have. It’s more than friendship, it’s almost like family.”
Before he hops on his bike and cycles home from the shoot, we ask if Harry ever feels weird about girls – and guys – appreciating his more revealing pictures. Without skipping a beat, he replies: “Not in the slightest. Some of my straight friends have asked if it bothers me and it literally doesn’t.
“A guy saying to me ‘nice photo’, or a girl saying it on Twitter, it gives me the same feeling of, well, it’s nice to be complimented. I mean, the guys can be slightly more explicit with their gratitude... if that’s how you want to put it.”
“Like, really graphic. I’m lying there at home with my wife, looking at Twitter and reading out all this explicit stuff that guys have sent me. I’m like, ‘Listen to this!’”
And what does she say? “She just laughs and says, ‘Why are you telling me this?’
But I mean, she doesn’t mind. I feel grateful to be liked and accepted by your readers.
“It’s a weird one because there’s a fine line between me being too aware of that kind of praise. So I try not to tap into it too much. I’m just happy if people enjoy the photos, however they want to enjoy them...”
Well there we are.
“I’m there with my wife looking at Twitter and reading out all this
Hey Joel! You’re currently on tour with your stand-up show. How’s it all going? I’m having a great time! I’m now on the last leg and the venues are growing. We started off at 200 seaters, and now it’s 1,500, 2,000 seaters! Because it’s slowly built that way, it means every step of the way I get more amazed by it.
That’s great! Any crazy fan moments? Well, because I displayed my love for cheesecake in the jungle [Joel was a contestant on I’m a Celebrity… in 2016], the weirdest thing I get is people throwing cheesecake at me onstage. It’s kind of annoying actually, people just flinging cheesecake on the stage! You can’t throw food at people doing their jobs! At least I’m not lactose intolerant – then it’d just be insulting.
You’re also starting a new show with Nish Kumar on Comedy Central called Joel and Nish vs The World. Could you tell us a little about it? Basically, I go to the fittest tribes in the world and see if I keep up with them for a week. And the answer is always, “No, I can’t.” Nish has a kushty job, he follows me around and laughs at me while I try. He gave himself the name of the “sassy ethnic sidekick”. But throughout the whole experience he became really invaluable – I needed him for emotional support. I ran this 32-mile ultra-marathon in Mexico, and I when couldn’t stop crying at mile 28, he just ran the last four or five miles with me. He really helped. I’ve been to Mexico, Philippines, China, Brazil, Mongolia and Kenya. It was wonderful. I basically had a gap year, but I got paid for it!
Do you find it hard to keep up your exercise regime up when you’re on the road? Weirdly, my exercise regime is better when I’m on tour. When I’m sat in London my time always gets filled up with TV shows and stuff, but when I’m on tour I only work in the evening. So, I fill the day with working out, then I gig in the evening. And nowadays you’ve got Marks and Spencer and Waitrose, so you can just have salads along the way.
Tell us a bit about
CROSSFIT, because we know you’re a bit of a fan! It’s just so good. But I believe everyone should find their own thing. A lot of people force themselves to go to the gym, but if you’re forcing yourself, don’t do it! Do something else, because there’s so much you can do – you can play lacrosse, you can play squash, you can go swimming…
...you can dodge cheesecake? [Laughs] Yeah, exactly! I just stumbled across CROSSFIT and now it’s my thing. They call it the sport of fitness, and it’s so fun to see how far you can walk on your hands, or climb a rope! It’s nice to stay healthy in a fun way.
A lot of people are intimidated by CROSSFIT though, because it has a reputation of being quite intense. Honestly, give it a go. It will change everything for you! It’s a real cult, as soon as you’re involved, you’re stuck.
It’s a great thing to be addicted to. Some people choose drugs or sex, I choose to sweat with other men.
So, tell us Joel, do you feel being in great shape can be a hindrance in the world of comedy? Yeah, it can sometimes. But when I did I’m a Celeb... I hope people were still finding me funny as well as looking at me in the shower. Back in the day, you had to be more self-deprecating to be a comedian, but now I think it’s changing. American comedy influences British comedy now, because of YouTube and stuff, and American comedy is much more outward and confident. You can have a great comedian like Kevin Hart, who’s sponsored by Nike and has his top off all the time doing work out videos. As long as you’re likeable and funny, that’s the core of it – even if you look like someone that’s walked fresh out of Love Island.
You mentioned I’m a Celeb... How was that whole experience for you?
I don’t think it changed me as a person, but it’s definitely changed my life. I surround myself with people that keep me grounded – like my tour manager, who I’ve known since I was 11. I went to the GQ Men of the Year Awards and it’s an environment I felt really self-conscious in. I feel more comfortable talking down a microphone at a comedy club than I do sat at a table in a suit and tie. It was mad being in the same room as Pele, Jared Leto, Anthony Joshua and Stormzy. I love those guys, they’re incredible. The fact I’m allowed in a room like that is humbling. And they were some of the most strikingly handsome men I’ve ever met in my life!
What does it mean to you appearing in a gay magazine? Well, I think of it in the same way I would appearing in a straight magazine. I really like Gay Times, I think it’s really important that it keeps going, and it keeps relevant and great! The fact that you’re even considering me to be inside the pages of it is a wonderful compliment.
Well, we’re very excited to, ahem, have you. Obviously, we wouldn’t change a thing, but if you could change something about your body, what would it be? I bite my fingers really bad. I do it when I’m stressed or busy. Honestly, I hate to look at them it’s the most unattractive thing. Also CROSSFIT and gymnastics destroys my hands, they’re all calloused. So definitely my hands.
And finally, can you tell us a joke before you go? Absolutely. ‘Chinese whispers’ was originally called ‘chime breeze Christmas’, but they changed it due to bad communication. There’s plenty more where that came from!
Dumbbell one-arm tricep extension. The all important tricep requires serious work to get that bulge. Grab a dumbbell and sit on a bench with back support. Bring the dumbbell up to shoulder height and extend the arm over your head so it’s perpendicular to the floor and next to your head. Rotate the wrist so the palm of your hand is facing forward with your pinke to the ceiling. This will be your start position. Slowly lower the dumbbell behind your head as you hold the upper arm stationary, inhaling as you perform this movement and pausing when your triceps are fully stretched. Return to the start position by flexing your triceps as you breath out. Aim for 3 sets of 8 to 10 reps.
Hanging weighted leg raise. This is an intense exercise for that shredded stomach. Grab a dumbbell and bring it to a pull-up bar. Go light to start with – between 2kg to 5kg. Take a shoulder-width overhand grip on the bar and allow your body to hang, legs together, holding a slight bend in your knees and hips. Keeping your legs straight, grab the dumbbell with your feet and make sure it’s wedged in between each foot. This is your resistance. Contract your lower abs to lift them in front of you to hip-height. If you’re moving under control, you should be able to hold the top position for a count. Then, lower back to the start. The higher you bring your legs, the harder the abs have to work. Try for 3 sets at 5-8 reps each.
Pushups with dumbbells. When I started adding more pushup variations into my workouts I noticed a significant change in my strength and the size of my pecs. Take two dumbbells and lay them upright on the ground. Start in a raised plank position with your feet on the floor and one hand on each dummbell. Bend your elbows as you lower your body, hold and slowly raise back to the start position. Repeat 8 to 10 times. I try to do 5 sets with a 60 second break in between each.
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