Health and wellness advocate Harry Judd released his new book Get Fit, Get Happy last month so we caught up with him to talk about his debut.
Please tell us about your book Get Fit Get Happy.
It's a fitness book with a difference - I start by talking about my struggles with OCD and anxiety and how fitness has helped me to overcome those struggles. It's part personal memoir and part research based. At the end of the book there is an exercise plan for people that may not have the confidence, time, or money to go to the gym. I like to think that it’s a great for people to get into exercise - the workouts are fun and can be done anywhere and it’s all about transforming the way that you feel not just the way that you look!
At what point during all your success did you feel at your most anxious?
I would say it was around maybe two years into the band - we were busy, and it made things a struggle to get through. Thankfully that passed and there have been a few other occasions where it's been tough, but I feel fortunate that I have managed to come out the other end with a few blips along the way. Now I use exercise to help me combat these issues. It helps me to be disciplined, positive and it’s something that I can control.
What were your symptoms when it was at its worst?
I suffered from panic attacks and general anxiety.
What made you want to pass on your wisdom to cope with anxiety to other people?
I would say because I felt that no one was talking about exercise from this point of view - everyone is always talking about the aesthetic gains and how to get a six pack and I feel that people are not talking enough about the mental health benefits. I’m hoping that by sharing my personal story that it can help others feel the amazing benefits of exercise. Don’t get me wrong, looking good from working out is a great motivating tool but for me it’s the by product and feeling great comes first.
How differently do you feel when you are keeping fit?
I feel generally more positive, more energised, more focused and generally a lot happier. It's become such an integral part of my life now and it’s the key to a lot of positive decisions I’ve made and still make.
Why do you think people with anxiety are not always given the attention they deserve?
I think because it's not a visible ailment like a broken leg where you have a cast and people can see it. Recently it has come to light a lot more which is a great thing. People can feel a lot more comfortable talking about it. Gone are the days where it's a taboo subject to discuss.
Why do you think we are convinced that we need loads of equipment and time to get fit when this isn't the case?
I think that's how it's sold to us because a lot of people picture the idea of exercise in a gym or something that they can only do if they shell out a lot of money on tools to help them. Equipment can be great if you’re really into training and it can help result in aesthetic gains if that’s what you’re after. However, on the flip side, gyms and equipment can be really intimidating and put people off exercising for a whole host of different reasons. I’ve tried to simplify it for people and present fitness in a different way, so they have more of an incentive to stick to it and hopefully enjoy it!
Do you think there is a strong link between fitness and happiness?
You’re never going to feel worse after a workout - the benefits are clear for all to see and it helps give me clarity and focus. It is proven that exercise improves brain function, reduces stress and release endorphins so yes essentially it can lead to a happier outcome!
Why is it important that exercise is fun?
Because a lot of people don't enjoy it so if you can make it more fun then hopefully they will stick to it. If it's tedious and hard, then people are less likely to commit. I enjoy working out with friends and it's important to mix it up - I like to play sport - it doesn't have to be going to a gym and spending an hour on a cross trainer. It could be as simple as going for a brisk walk for 30 minutes.
Why does transforming the way you look only get you so far in life?
I think the aesthetic benefits are a good motivation but for me exercise has so many other great benefits. What happens once you've made that transformation? It's not about an 8-week body change it's about the rest of your life. Exercise can become part of your everyday balanced lifestyle - exercise for me is everything from going for a walk with my children to doing a 10-minute workout in the garden or cycling to work. Taking the stairs instead of the lift - lots of little changes lead to health benefits and before you know it you see yourself leading a more active lifestyle and sticking to it as well.
Please tell us about some of the exercises and the dancing you do to keep your mood up?
I do a lot of body weight exercises - when I’m on tour or when the kids are asleep I fit these in then. When I can I like to go to the gym and in the summer, I like to work out in my garden. I also go for a lot of runs. Every now and again I find myself doing projects that require me to dance and I really love the rehearsals - it's great exercise and fun.
Anxiety, depression and other mental health problems are affecting us more than ever before - so why do you think it is on the rise?
Life is fast paced now - the world moves quicker, people have more high-pressured jobs and stress is often the catalyst to mental health issues. The birth of social media and the pressure to look a certain way doesn't help people - whilst it may be on the rise I think we are more open to talking about our mental health and seeking help so hopefully we will start to see it decrease.
Of all the highlights of your career, which one stands out the most for you?
Everything that we have achieved with the band from BRIT awards to No.1's - we’ve toured the world at a young age and we have been very lucky - it's hard to pick one highlight as it's been an amazing journey so far and one I feel very fortunate to have experienced.
What is next for you?
Things are great with my family, everything is brilliant with work and I'm really enjoying getting the Get Fit Get Happy message out there. I've been doing a lot of book signings recently and I've really enjoyed meeting fans and chatting with them about how the book has helped them.