Actress, radio presenter, TV personality, exercise queen and author…mother-of-one Gemma Atkinson has a lot on her plate! We book in time with the 37-year-old to discover how she juggles it all as she shares with us her mum fitness, self-care and nutritional advice…
Words: Suzanne Baum | Photography © David Cummings 2021
With starring roles in everything from Hollyoaks and EastEnders to Strictly Come Dancing and MasterChef, Gemma Atkinson is no stranger to being in front of the camera. Her career has thrown her into the public eye from a very young age, and Gemma has remained as down to earth as ever, pointing to her happy childhood and supportive parents for keeping her grounded.
Having met her fiancé, Strictly pro Gorka Marquez on the 2017 dance show, the couple are parents to two-year-old daughter Mia – the inspiration behind Gemma’s second book The Ultimate Body Plan for New Mums (Headline Home, £16.99), which launched earlier this month. Renowned for her passion for fitness, the book offers a variety of exercises and meal plans to help new mums feel strong both physically and mentally.
As an avid fan of celebrating body positivity, Gemma’s approach offers a refreshingly honest account of life post-baby, often using her platform to share red-faced post-workout selfies or ones of her eating chocolate in bed. A busy working mum, finding time to fit everything in is all about balance and routine. But how does the Hits Radio Drivetime presenter manage to multi-task and keep up her energy levels on the run? Here’s what Gemma Atkinson had to say…
How important is it to you to be a fit mum?
‘It is vital to me as when I have worked out it totally changes how I feel – I’m not only a better mother, but fiancé and friend, too. I’m a sucker for routine and, as anyone knows, with a toddler it is difficult to find time in the day to focus on exercise. So, I get up everyday at 5am to get my fitness in before Mia wakes up at 7am. By then I am in a really good head space to face the day and focus on her needs.’
What exercises do you do?
‘We have a home gym, so I use all the weight training machines, but I am also a fan of Thai boxing as body strength is so important as you get older. I focus on my flexibility and mobility as I am so conscious to keep an eye on my bone density so that I grow older without any health problems.
‘When Gorka is at home he loves training with me and we do push-ups together, but I prefer to do my own thing as he is an extreme athlete so what he does is super-intense workouts.’
How do you juggle fitness with mum life?
‘Everything that I do, I make sure it fits around Mia’s schedule. She has grown up seeing me in the gym and now comes in and loves being there. She has her own set of baby barbell weights which are so cute. I feel it’s so important to have her grow up knowing that women can work and be a good parent – it’s all about multi-tasking! That was the loving childhood I had and the way I want Mia to be.
‘My experience as a kid was such an amazing one: my parents never pushed me into doing anything; there was no pressure put upon us and I try to replicate that in the way I raise Mia.’
Your new book The Ultimate Body Plan for New Mums has Mia at the heart of it. Did that make it easier to write?
‘Yes, absolutely. I love the fact that one day when Mia is older she can have the book and know mummy wrote it, as I’ve dedicated it to her. It is my second health and fitness book and contains a 12-week post-baby plan to help mothers look – but, most importantly, feel – their best after having a baby.
‘I’m totally aware it is not easy to focus on yourself when you become a mum, but I share all my top tips for what helped keep me sane and mentally in the right state of mind. It has no fad diet plan or meal choices, as I’m someone who embraces living life, loving food and eating everything in moderation.’
When it comes to your own nutrition, what do you tend to eat?
‘I don’t restrict myself too much. I am probably 70 per cent sensible and then 30 per cent eat what I fancy. I was brought up having a chip tea every Friday and I continue to do that. My motto is train and fuel yourself, not diet and exercise.’
And finally, when it comes to self-care, what is it that makes you happy?
‘My father died when I was 17 so I know how precious life is and relish the simple things. I’m not talking about beauty spas or nice holidays; for me, I just love to relax in a hot bath with Epsom salts, eat good food and rest. I embrace getting older, rather than dread it. I love the ageing process and treat each birthday like a new chapter in my life.’
Gemma Atkinson on social media
‘When it comes to social media I am all for keeping things real. I have a love/hate relationship with Instagram as I know half the time the picture-perfect images people share do not tell the truth. The last thing I want is for Mia to grow up having to feel she needs to compare herself to other girls.
‘I am all for being myself, flaws and all. It is the best way one can be. Otherwise, it is a total act, and how can you live out a lie posting pictures of yourself on socials and then seeing people in real life looking nothing like them? I can’t understand it.
‘I’m not afraid to be myself. I am all for posting pictures of myself doing a workout with my hair tied back in a scrunchie and sweat pouring down my face. No filters, nothing airbrushed! I also feel it helps people connect with me as, yes, whilst I maybe seen as “a celebrity” I am just a normal woman like everyone else. I’m so glad there was no social media when I was growing up.’
Find Gemma Atkinson on Instagram at @glouiseatkinson.