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As the host of one of the biggest TV shows on the planet, Love Island, and a new mother, presenter and author Laura Whitmore has plenty on her plate – meaning, staying in good mental and physical shape is of the upmost importance to her. So much so that she's even teamed up with multi-sports label, Dare 2b, again, to collaborate on another brilliant range of inspiring activewear. Think: tech-loaded sports bras, leggings to suit all and running jackets.
But, besides having some excellent looking gear to throw on, how else does Laura keep herself motivated to exercise? Here, she talks to Cosmopolitan about everything from her preferred workouts, to dealing with body confidence issues, and why lacing up her trainers goes so much deeper than striving to look a 'certain' way.
On mental health...
She views exercise as meditation in motion
For Laura, fitness is an intensely personal activity – whether she's out for a solo run, or partaking in a group class. "Exercise is a great way of checking in with yourself," she says. "It's important for our mental health, because everyone deals with things differently, and we all have ten million things going on at any one time."
Laura says that zoning into exercise - which in turn means putting her phone down and leaving other thoughts at the door - is the perfect way of grounding herself. "When you're working out, you can kind of really only focus on that one thing. It's so good to bring it back to basics."
She loves workouts that make her feel good
When it comes to health related goals, the presenter and mother-of-one says she's done away with physical-related ones. "It sounds quite cheesy, but my biggest fitness goal is to feel good," Laura explains. "To feel happy. It's quite basic, but it's the most important thing. A lot of people do fitness look a certain way, but for me, it's to feel a certain way." She notes that this is the case whether she's working out, doing a dance class, or going for a walk with her dog.
She tries not to compare herself to others
After welcoming a baby girl into the world with her husband Iain Sterling earlier this year, Laura has been vocal about postpartum life on Instagram (be it through candid snaps of her breastfeeding pads, craftily stuck to the inside of her outfits, to empowering shots of her feeding her little one). But she's cautious not to sound preachy while chronicling her own journey, adding that she's sick of people trying to give her advice about her own body.
"The one thing I've learned is don't give advice, because everyone's journey is completely different." Laura shares. "And don't compare – whether you go back to the size you were beforehand, whether you don't, whether you're smaller or bigger, it doesn't matter, because again, everyone's journey is different."
Laura admits body confidence is a work in progress – but focussing on what you can do is helpful
It's human to to be your own biggest critic, Laura admits, adding that "no one will ever say anything about my body [that's] as bad as what I'll say about my body myself", something she notes is 'sad'. However, the presenter says she's getting better at building herself up as time goes on.
"I'm getting a little bit better because my body's done some great things, and, you know, keeps me alive," she laughs. "I try to remember things like that when I feel insecure, or think 'Oh, I've got these little wobbly bits that I'm not so happy about' or 'I'm so pale'. I just think it's really important to be appreciative of the fact that we live and breathe and your body functions, your heart pumps. Sometimes you have to think about that and not be like, 'Oh god, I wish this little bit was a bit flatter'."
On physical health...
She fits in movement wherever she can
Now that we're all beginning to tentatively emerge from the safety of our lockdown homes, blinking at the bright lights of the world once more, the workout routines of many have again shifted – and that goes for Laura's too. Now that she's back travelling and taking care of her little one, she says her schedule can be a bit all over the place.
"There hasn't been time to pop along to a dance class, or a hot yoga class, but there has been a lot of movement, I can tell you that, Laura tells us. "It can be from going for a walk, or just being running around the house like a headless chicken. I look at my steps at the end of the day and I'm like 'How have I worked out that much?'... I've always been that kind of person who makes fitness just fit in with their life."
Running and yoga are her go-tos
Not much of a gym person, Laura says she prefers running or yoga – both of which are easily done on the go. "When I first started out with MTV and travelled a lot, I always kept a pair of trainers in my suitcase," she reveals. "If I was in Ibiza doing Ibiza Rocks TV, I'd get up early and go for a little run. I remember going to Mexico, just for a night, to interview Daniel Craig and I wanted to see the city, so I did a run to sight-see."
Laura adds that the Couch to 5K was helpful for her as a beginner, as is the BBC Sports app now ("Jo Wiley does the voiceovers and tells you 'Well done!'").
She also recalls that during lockdown, she switched her normal yoga classes for online ones, opting for internationally renowned teacher Adriene Mishler's YouTube series, Yoga With Adriene. "Yoga helps me connect with my body," Laura says, adding that she enjoys learning breathing techniques in class too. "I'm fast-paced and it helps me slow down a bit."
She loves dance classes with friends
"It's been a while but I used to go to FRAME [an upbeat fitness studio franchise] a lot," Laura says. "They have classes where you dance like you're in a music video and another called Bend It Like Barbie [centred on mobility and flexibility]. It's really fun and doesn't feel like work. Dancing around to Lady Gaga and Beyonce? It's like a night out without the alcohol!"
Her mantra is 'No one can change your life except for you'
On those days where motivation is scarce (we all have 'em), Laura harks back to her mantra 'no one can change your life except for you' (also the name of her book). "You can sit on your arse and feel shit about yourself, but at the end of the day, you are the one that controls your life," she stresses. "You can pay for all the gear and top classes, but you have to make a decision in your own head about wanting to get healthy and feel good."
Thinking about how she'll feel post-workout is a driver too, Laura notes. "Before going to yoga in the morning, sometimes I might just want to stay in bed but I know afterwards I'll feel better," she says. "So again, you kind of just have to remember it's you that makes that decision." Failing that? Stick Peanut Butter Jelly by Galantis on (her preferred running tune that takes her back to happy times waking up in a New York apartment, shared with pals).
Breakfast is a non-negotiable
One coping tactic Laura deployed during lockdown was to create a mini 'commute' for herself by walking to the local coffee shop for a drink to have with breakfast, while doing radio from home. "Then I'd make sure to take a lunch break, and make a sit down dinner," she shares. "Before, I was always on the roll and grabbing a sandwich on the go, or getting takeaways, but now I feel like how I eat has become better because of the pandemic. It became an important part of structuring my day."
The new Dare 2b Laura Whitmore edit, including technical sports bras, statement leggings, vests and jackets is available now. You can shop it all online or in select retailers nationwide:
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