Presenter, author and national sweetheart, Frankie Bridge, talks openly about how fitness has helped support her mental health.
If there’s one celebrity who remains grounded, even when climbing high buildings on I’m a Celebrity or flying through the air on Strictly Come Dancing, it’s Frankie Bridge. Indeed, we couldn’t think of anyone better to star in our mental health special issue than the mother-of-two herself.
For the 32-year-old, who shot to fame in girl group The Saturdays, has always been candid about her mental health issues. After penning her autobiography Open: Why Asking For Help Can Save Your Life (Cassell, £8.99) – in which she wrote about her symptoms of depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts – she has regularly shared insights about her mental health battles and coping mechanisms in a bid to empower others.
The Loose Women panellist, who has her own clothing line FW Bridge (sold through F&F at Tesco, and next.co.uk), is no stranger to the limelight. Despite having been thrust into the public eye at the age of 12 in 2001, when she became one-eighth of S Club Juniors (later renamed S Club 8), she has never let fame go to her head. In fact, her honesty and down-to-earth personality has gained her an enormous fan base, including an Instagram account with over 1.5 million followers.
Now, a year on from launching her first fitness and wellness programme – aptly named Health & Happiness – on RWL (ResultsWellnessLifestyle), we speak to Bridge about how she juggles it all. Because the busy working mum – who lives in Surrey with her footballer husband Wayne, their two sons and two dogs – has a lot on her plate. Here’s what she had to say…
Have you always been an active person?
Frankie Bridge: ‘I’ve always been on the move for as long as I can remember, as I danced all the time when I was younger – my bottom never sat down! When I was in The Saturdays, we did a lot of travelling, so I’d only get to rest on the aeroplane and then, as soon as we arrived, I’d be back to living a manic schedule.
‘Since having kids, my fitness routine has changed massively and I’m more in the mindset of doing something I actually enjoy, rather than forcing myself. I’m not one of those people that will make myself go to the gym, particularly if there is something a lot more appealing on offer, like a friend wanting to go out for a drink. My younger self would dance all the time but, now I’m older, I know how important weight training is for my muscles and to build strength.’
What is your favourite exercise, and do you have a fitness philosophy?
‘I can’t believe I’m saying this but I absolutely love walking. I know that sounds a bit naff and many people would be sceptical, but to me, it is all about moving your body. And because I have two dogs, I have to walk them. Being outside around nature, even walking in the rain, makes me feel good. My philosophy is: do something that gets your heartbeat up and doesn’t make you dread doing it. But I am also someone who thinks sometimes it’s good to try something new and push yourself out of your comfort zone.’
How important a role has exercised played in your mental wellbeing?
‘Exercise plays a vital role in boosting my physical and mental health. I can’t stress how massively important it is for me to do some type of activity as, not only does the sense of a routine – doing a class and so on – help me mentally, but the endorphins are also so important. Nothing beats that high you get from exercise.’
Why did you team up with RWL, and what can we expect from the programme?
‘I love RWL for so many reasons. The fact that it has so much variety means there is something for everybody. I enjoy mixing fitness up a bit, so one day you can train and the next day you can do a dance workout – which I love the best – and then you can do some floor work. You can push yourself to do classes you’d never dream of doing. For example, I’m rubbish at Zumba but like to put myself out of my comfort zone. That’s why I went on I’m A Celebrity – I knew I wouldn’t feel good doing any of the tasks but I learnt the best way to deal with my anxiety is to face it head on.’
And talking about your anxiety, how are you feeling these days?
‘Of course I still have bad days, but there are so many good ones, too, and that is what I enjoy about my Health & Happiness programme – it ticks so many boxes, making you feel good about yourself inside and out, whatever your age. Doing some sort of exercise, moving my body, helps keep my anxiety at bay. The RWL trainers are all amazing and target all age groups, so it’s suitable for everyone.’
When you are not working, how do you like to relax?
‘There is nothing I prefer more than sitting on the sofa with Wayne and watching Netflix. I’ll binge watch anything; it’s the best way for me to switch off.’
Frankie Bridge’s Best Moves: BOXING
‘I love boxing! It’s a bit like dancing for me in that I don’t feel like I’m doing a gruelling workout, even though it’s super tough.’
Perform these combos back-to-back for 30 seconds each. Take a minute of rest, then repeat twice more.
1. Jab, cross, two single hooks
- Stand with your rear foot a half-step behind the lead foot, heel up.
- Then, jab: lead arm punches, palm facing down, extending from your shoulder.
- Cross: rear-arm punches, rotate through the hip, back heel pops up for balance.
- Hook left: rotate right, punching your left arm at chest height.
- Hook right: rotate left, punching your right arm at chest height.
- Repeat the sequence.
2. Power single jabs
- Stand with your rear foot a little behind the lead foot, with back heel up.
- Jab left: left arm punches, palm facing down, extending from your shoulder.
- Jab right: right arm punches, palm facing down, extending from your shoulder. Repeat.
3. Speed uppercuts
- Bend your elbows, holding them shoulder-width apart.
- Lower the body into a semi-squat position, rotate the torso and lower your right hand down to chest height so that you can powerfully scoop (or ‘cut’) the arm under and up and to the left, as you rotate your body to the left.
- Return to the start position and repeat, alternating arms.
4. Jab, jab, cross, slide, duck
- Start in your boxing stance.
- Jab left: left arm punches, palm facing down, extending from your shoulder, retract.
- Jab right: right arm punches, palm facing down, extending from your shoulder, retract.
- Cross: left-arm punch, rotate through the hip, back heel pops up for balance, retract.
- Finally, duck in a circular motion, then repeat the entire sequence.
Frankie Bridge’s Best Moves: CORE WORK
‘I love working my core. I either add a little core circuit to the end of my workout or I do a short abs routine on days I don’t do a full workout.’
Do 40 seconds on each move, take a 20-second rest between exercises. Complete 3-4 rounds.
1. Side plank pulses
- Lie on your right side with your right knee against the ground and left foot back for stability.
- Shift your weight onto your right forearm.
- Open your chest and place your left hand in the air.
- Perform little pulses up and down, lifting your hips towards the ceiling and then towards the mat.
2. Bicycle crunches
- Lie flat on the floor with your hands behind your ears.
- Raise your legs a few inches off the floor and lift your shoulders up.
- Use your abs to drive your left elbow and right knee towards each other, twist back to the centre, then drive your right elbow and left knee towards each other.
- Continue alternating sides.
3. Sit-ups with boxing punches
- Sit on a mat, bend your knees and place your heels flat on the ground. Place your fingertips by your ears.
- Slowly lift your shoulder blades from the floor until you’re at a 90-degree angle.
- Perform two punches to the front before slowly lowering your torso back to the mat.
4. Plank hold
- Start in plank with legs extended and hands flat on the floor in line with your shoulders.
- Bend your elbows and lower yourself to shift your weight from your hands to your forearms. Your body should form a straight line.
- Brace your abs, squeeze your glutes and hold.
Frankie Bridge’s Best Moves: DANCE FITNESS
‘DanceFit is one of my favourite ways to exercise. It’s how I found RWL in lockdown, and you just can’t help but feel great when you move your body to music. Plus, it’s an amazing workout – as I’m moving non-stop, my heart rate gets higher in DanceFit than it ever does with weights or even some cardio workouts.’
Do 40 seconds on each move, taking a 20-second rest between exercises. Complete 3-4 rounds of the circuit
1. Quick feet reach-ups
- From standing, lift your right heel and punch up with your left hand, then bounce so the opposite heel is lifted, and right heel is down, while also swapping your arms so the right hand punches up.
- Step out to the right with your right foot slightly diagonal to the side.
- Cross your left leg behind your right leg.
- Unwind your legs and step out with your right foot and then, tap your left foot in place.
- Next, you move to the left side.
- After you tap with the left foot, you bounce off that same foot and start traveling to the left.
- A mambo is where you rock forward and backwards using one leg to move while the other stays in place.
- Stand with your feet together, then your right foot steps out in front and you lean your weight on it leaving the left foot on the same spot.
- Put your weight in to the left foot while you step the right foot back and put your weight in to it leaving your left foot in place.
- You can change feet with a cha-cha-cha between mambos.
4. Side reach step-ins
- From standing take a little bounce by bending your knees, and as you come up reach your right arm up and over to the left above your head.
- At exactly the same time, lean your body to the left and straighten your right leg out to the right, pointing your toe to the floor as you do.
- From here, bring the arm back down and leg back in and take a tiny knee bend, then repeat the arm reach and leg stretch on the opposite side.
Frankie Bridge’s three tips for happy vibes
- ‘Start walking. Going for a walk with the dogs is one of my favourite activities.’
- ‘Then, I recommend trying to face a fear and pushing yourself to do something you are scared of.’
- ‘And make sure you have a schedule, a ritual or routine – it really does help.’
Results Wellness Lifestyle (RWL) is available for £19.99 a month online or on the App Store.