For every fan that has screamed in adulation as he has performed with his band mates in McFly and McBusted, or marvelled as he swept the dance floor before taking the Strictly Come Dancing glitter ball trophy home, it seems hard to believe that Harry Judd could ever be less than ready to take on anything that life can throw at him.
But as Harry ventures into his next career as an inspiring fitness star with a mission to have us exercise to boost both mind and body, he has revealed his own story of how, when life has been less than stellar, he has struggled with mental-health issues.
As he joins us for today’s shoot in central London, Harry is relaxed, warm and – despite the early start – decidedly un-pop star in behaviour. In fact, a mid-morning coffee won’t even tempt him, choosing instead to enjoy one of Juice Master’s new Super Blend Me! ready-made bottles to give him a boost.
Although he’s dressed down in jeans, it’s impossible to miss that Harry is in incredible shape with his T-shirt framing bulging biceps and honed pecs. The day before our interview he was on the road, cycling with Zoe Ball during her Sport Relief challenge. As he talks about taking on hills with ease, it’s clear that his peak physique is matched by super levels of fitness, undoubtedly the result of his latest project, Get Fit, Get Happy.
The title is a great summation of Harry’s simple belief that, whatever your age, shape or current state of fitness, exercise can help you look and – more importantly – feel better. In fact, the very reason why Harry is so passionate about exercise is because it is important to him on a very personal level.
In Get Fit, Get Happy, he tells his own story, from talented childhood cricket player, to band member on tour and even Hollywood film star. While these were undoubtedly good times, in the book Harry shares that he suffers from anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and that, as his pop career rocketed, he tried to stifle and conquer these problems with drugs and alcohol.
At his lowest point, Harry was an exhausted wreck and had to seek counselling to help him quit alcohol and cannabis addictions. The book follows his journey to recovery and the one thing that has remained a constant as he tackled addiction, learnt to manage his symptoms and get his life back in order, has been exercise. Swapping nicotine for a run in a bid to quit smoking, his last vice, Harry writes about how exercise and good nutrition have become his constant supports and enable him to manage the feelings of anxiety or OCD when he feels them creeping up on him.
Part of his routine is a daily hit of fresh fruit and veggies, and he starts each day with his young daughter, Lola, by blending up a smoothie for the pair to enjoy together.
“I have a naturally fast metabolism,” he says, “and I know I need good nutrition to keep me going, so I make sure I get the veggies – my go-to blend is half an avocado, strawberries or blueberries, lemon and a handful of spinach.”
Harry has also recently tried the Juice Master Delivered Super Blend Me! plan, enjoying the nutrient-packed, ready-made blends, which are perfect when life’s busy. “I loved them!” says Harry. “My favourite was the Creamy Tahini which tastes so good – the blends are great as they just give you a bit more when you’re working out and as active as I am.”
While there are plenty of Insta-fit stars posting jaw-dropping workouts and incredible yoga poses online, what makes Get Fit, Get Happy different is it is accessible and inclusive. There are photographs of Harry and his mum working out, with exercises for different levels of ability, and you won’t find a chic gym or Californian mountain shot in sight. Harry’s exercises can be done in the kitchen, garden, even the shower, meaning they can easily be incorporated into daily life. It is definitely a no-excuses approach to fitness
“Jason is such a positive influence and a fantastic spokesman for health”
“Everything else in the fitness area is focused on being hyper-fit and going to the gym,” says Harry, “but when people start to get into exercise that can be incredibly intimidating. It’s just as easy to workout at home or in the garden and you can use your own body weight instead of expensive equipment. The main obstacles to exercise are time, money, motivation and, I would add, intimidation. I wanted to create a book that doesn’t require any equipment, with exercises that can be broken into short, 10-minute blocks. I’m a busy parent, and I know how difficult it can be to squeeze in a run on some days, so there are exercises that fit in around daily life – hanging out with the kids, in the office, even at the bus stop.”
“In some ways, I’ve had a strange life with lots of opportunities such as being in two mega-bands, doing Strictly… My wife, Izzy, who is a professional musician, is similar in that we don’t have 9-5 jobs. But we have two young children, Lola and Kit, and the same time pressures as everyone else, and sometimes need to find the motivation to exercise. However, I know how positive I feel when I workout, and why it’s so important for my mental health as well as my body.”
The celebrity couple spent time with Juice Master Jason Vale at Juicy Oasis before Izzy conceived Lola through IVF, and it gave them both a better understanding of the benefits of juicing. “It was beautiful and a real experience, I loved it and would like to go back,” says Harry. “Jason is such a positive influence and a fantastic spokesman for health. A lot of what he does is a psychological thing and being at Juicy Oasis was a brilliant opportunity to focus on nutrition. Initially I found it hard, but after a couple of days your body feels amazing and you have incredible energy. I remember playing football with Jason and we were dripping with sweat, but he has boundless energy. He’s so charismatic and has a natural gift for helping others.”
“A good goal for me is balance and sometimes I need something extreme to kick-start me as I’m an all-or-nothing person. Izzy’s the same and the retreat was a great way to get my nutrition on track. I’m not perfect, but I’ve found a balance in both my health and my life, and I want to help other people to achieve this too. It’s not about going to the gym five days a week, it’s about starting, finding your own level and developing from there.”
As part of the research for Get Fit, Get Happy, Harry met with experts including consultant cardiologist Professor Sanjay Sharma who is medical director for the London Marathon. He also spoke with former Gladiator and GP Dr Zoe Williams who works with teenage girls to encourage them to exercise in adult life. And Harry also met Dr Peter Lovatt – aka ‘Dr Dance’ – who studies the psychological effects of dance, something Harry experienced during his Strictly run. “I discovered that my instinct about physical and mental health being intertwined is true,” he says.
“A lot of people are put off exercise by the competitive nature of sport and even training, but you just need to do the best you can do for you. Anxiety and OCD are my Achilles’ heel, but when I exercise I’m happy and forget.”