8 Secrets To Tess Daly's Epic Fitness Results At 52 — As Told By Her PT

·6-min read

Fact: Tess Daly is #fitnessgoals. Her unwavering energy has been a source of inspo for us ever since she graced our screens on SMTV back in the day, and her levels haven’t depleted one bit. TBH, she’s really hit her stride since turning 50.

Now 52, she balances work (including, but not limited to, presenting on Strictly Come Dancing, managing her beachwear line Naia Beach, and designing bedding for Next) with raising two children and everything else life throws at her, and she credits such superhuman skills to exercise.

From strength training to trampoline workouts, she swears by movement for motivation, and props go to her PT Sam Shaw, who has worked with Daly for six years. WH caught up with him for the exclusive intel on exactly how they get results.

1. Reap the functional rewards

We’ll forgive you for thinking that adding exercise into an already busy routine seems counterintuitive, but it actually helps Daly go about daily (see what we did there?) life with ease, so says Shaw.

‘Being fit and healthy gives her the energy for rushing around on set at Strictly, as well as carrying out her duties as a mum and taking on everyday tasks at home.’

It comes down to functional fitness: the practice of doing movements that mimic everyday actions. If you’re fit like Daly, for example, chasing your kids around a playground or running for a bus won’t feel like such a slog. Milk it for all its worth.

2. Own the mornings

The temptation to hit snooze typically trumps the idea of getting out of bed earlier, we know, and if you’re not a morning person, you’re not a morning person, but Daly makes the AM her time for movement.

‘We usually train in the morning to get her ready to take on her day with a winning mindset after smashing training,’ Shaw tells us.

Here’s what a typical week in Daly’s workouts looks like:

  • Monday AM: Stretch, 15/20 mins run on treadmill

  • Tuesday AM: Gym session, 60 mins

  • Wednesday: Rest day

  • Thursday AM: Gym session, 60 mins

  • Friday AM: Yoga session

  • Saturday AM: Run or yoga (depending on how her body feels)

  • Sunday: Rest day

3. Focus on form

We hate to sound like a broken record, but form (i.e. how you execute each exercise) is fundamental to results, and Shaw practices what we preach.

‘Tess’ routine often changes when we increase weights, reps and tempo of exercises, but we always focus on keeping moving patterns and form as clean as possible,’ he explains.

Think of form as the building blocks of a workout – without it, you’re more prone to injury, and less likely to see results as your body naturally finds the easiest (but not necessarily the correct) way to perform a certain move. Repeat after us: Form. Is. Key. Form. Is. Key...

4. Firm up foundations

With form also comes mobility, and Shaw says he and Daly dedicate at least the first five minutes of a workout to mastering it.

‘We always put five minutes aside to warm up properly and do mobility and priming movements as longevity and mobility is so important to good quality health, and prevention of any injuries.’

Their go-to moves include walk-outs, cat cows, downward dogs, and overhead rotations with a resistance band.

5. Personalise your plan

What works for Daly might not work for you, nor any of Shaw’s other clients, which is why each of their plans is entirely unique. Daly’s is adapted for her weak lower back, which means she needs to pay more attention to the area.

‘We work together to focus on keeping Tess’s core, back and glutes as strong as possible since she has a slightly weak lower back, so it’s really important to keep all the surrounding muscles intact as support.’

More proof that there's little value in comparing your journey to another’s.

6. Make it fun

Forget the whole no pain, no gain culture; Shaw (and us, FYI) is a huge proponent of making exercise enjoyable. The workout you look forward to is the one you maintain, after all. How does he do it?

‘I like to change up exercises, for example, doing body weight movements, dumbbell weights and variations of skipping or boxing. This keeps it fun and interesting and helps the time fly by, at the same time as getting good progression in training and building a strong physique.

‘We always put on some fun tunes to keep motivation up and I show off some of my Strictly dance moves.’

Our kinda trainer.

Here are two examples of Daly’s sessions with Shaw that give an idea of the kind of variety they have.

Session 1

For her two to three minute warm-up, Tess performs dynamic mobility drills, as follows:

  • Walkouts 6 reps

  • Cat/cow 10 reps

  • Band overhead rotations

  • Downward dog

Next, it's into the following routine:

x3 rounds of:

  1. Lateral glute-banded walks (1 minute)

  2. Elbow plank (1 minute)

  3. Skipping (1 minute)

x3 rounds of:

  1. Reverse lunges (12 reps)

  2. Dumbbell bench press (12 reps)

  3. Assault bike 10 calories [As fast as possible]

x3 rounds of:

  1. Back squats (12 reps)

  2. Standing shoulder press (15 reps)

  3. Controlled Mountain Climbers (20 reps)


  1. Kneeling hamstring stretch

  2. Laying glute stretch

  3. Cat-cow stretch

  4. Standing quad stretch

Session 2

Another two to three-minute warm-up, as before:

  • Walkouts 6 reps

  • Cat/cow 10 reps

  • Band overhead rotations

  • Downward dog

Next, it's into the following routine:

x3 rounds of:

  1. Glute-banded cowboy walks (1 minute)

  2. Deadbugs 920 reps)

  3. High knees (1 minute)

x3 rounds of:

  1. Swiss ball hamstring curls 12 reps

  2. Dumbbell single arm rows 12 reps

  3. Side plank 30 seconds each side

x3 rounds of:

  1. Single-leg split squats 8/10 each leg

  2. Dumbbell bicep curls to shoulder press 12/15 reps

  3. Ab side-taps 20/30 reps


  1. Kneeling hamstring stretch

  2. Laying glute stretch

  3. Cat-cow stretch

  4. Standing quad stretch

7. Don’t force it

The age-old adage ‘too much of a good thing’ applies to exercise, too. Daly knows the deal and, considering she’s in tip-top shape, it’s clearly working wonders.

‘In the six years we’ve been working together, Tess has learned how to manage her recovery really well,’ Shaw tells us. ‘She takes women’s health supplements and often has salt baths.’

It’s about listening to her body. ‘If something doesn’t feel 100%, she will refer herself to a physio or osteopath,’ Shaw adds.

8. Find the balanced diet that works for you

Shaw encourages a well-rounded diet with a spotlight on nutrients, which undoubtedly contribute to Daly’s natural glow. They also pack in protein where they can, to keep Daly’s strength and energy up.

Remember: the diet that works for someone else might not be the right one for you - we all have different nutritional needs.

‘We focus on a slightly higher protein-based diet,’ Shaw explains. ‘Aiming to have some form of protein with each meal, whether that’s a veggie, vegan, fish or white meat option.’

Here’s an example of what Tess might eat in a day.


  • Oats

  • Greek yoghurt

  • Honey

  • Berries


  • Apple


  • Tuna salad (Avocado/tomatoes/cucumber)

  • Quinoa


  • Nakd Bar


  • Homemade turkey burgers

  • Sweet potato

  • Green vegetables

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