Actress and former Ackley Bridge star, Amy-Leigh Hickman, chats of WF about being a latecomer to fitness, how exercise brings much-needed structure and recharging with trash TV…

Have you always been an active person?

Amy-Leigh Hickman: ‘In school I absolutely hated PE. It wasn’t until I was 20 and filming BBC drama Our Girl, a role I had to train and get fit for, that I got into a fitness routine. I was filming in Cape Town for three months and working out with a personal trainer. I realised I loved how fitness made me feel and, working in an industry where I often have time off between jobs, it provided structure.’

Discover our top tips for returning to fitness after a break

How do you like to keep fit now?

‘Most mornings I do yoga. I like vinyasa and yin yoga, and, as well as following Adriene Mishler and Kassandra Reinhardt, being in classes with other people is fulfilling. I like to change up the way I exercise. In lockdown, I was into high-intensity training, but this year, running is my thing. I used to run in the gym but I now love running outside. If I’m working, I like to fit in a minimum of three workouts a week. When I’m between jobs, I usually train every day, but I might only do 20 minutes to kick-start my day.’

Do you follow a strict diet?

‘I haven’t eaten meat for four years, just because I don’t like the taste and it always made me feel bloated. I didn’t eat fish for a while, but I do now and I enjoy it. It gives me a lot of energy for workouts, and I also get protein from eating lentils and chick peas. As with exercise, I’m not strict with my diet because too much or too little of anything is never going to work. In the week, I try to be as healthy as I can, but I have a roast most Sundays and have cheat days.’

When it comes to relaxation, what do you most enjoy?

‘My way of recharging is to not move off the sofa and to watch television, which drains out my brain. When I was in South Africa, I loved watching British reality TV because it reminded me of home. I’d watch Geordie Shore and be like, “Oh, I miss Newcastle!”.’

What have you got coming up this year?

‘The second half of You, season four (S4), has just come out on Netflix, and I’ve just finished shooting a sitcom for ITV called Ruby Speaking. Comedy is still my first love. I’ve seen every British sitcom ever made since 1980, so to do a British sitcom was a massive tick. Hopefully, in the future, I’d love to do more.’

What’s your advice for getting fitter?

‘Be realistic. Don’t think, “I’m going to wake up and do an hour’s workout”, then commit to that every day. Start with a small workout, feel good that you’ve achieved that and then build up. Knowing how good feeling good feels is a huge motivator.’

Amy-Leigh Hickman can be seen in YOU S4, all episodes available on Netflix now. 

Words: Gemma Calvert | Photography: Macrae Marran