RYG: How do you fit exercise into a busy working day?
KS: I've learned that fitting exercise in has to be a priority. It's hugely important for me to have a routine. The only way for me to manage my exercise is to say that I will do three or four hours a week. I can't say that I always do that.
I swim and I go to the gym. When I go to the gym I have a trainer, which sounds a bit luxurious, but it helps me get to the gym, having an appointment to keep. I put when I'm going to exercise into my diary and I work to that. I make it as important as any other meeting. If someone says 'Can you meet me?' I try and work around it and say 'No, I really must do this,' because the benefits are enormous. That's really what I try to do.
If I get out of kilter and I'm not sleeping enough, or I'm working too hard and I don't go to the gym, everything else implodes. The key for me is to get enough sleep, get my exercise and then everything else fits in around it. Everything works.
RYG: Are you someone that packs their gym bag the night before?
4 August 1970
Journalist / presenter
- Completed two triathlons
- Presenter for the BBC Breakfast and One O'clock News
- Presenter for Panorama
- Presented Ultimate Wild Water (2007)
KS: I have to do that (laughs). I'm not saying that I'm organised because I'm not known as calamity Kate for nothing. I'm not great but I have become much better at being organised. That's probably the key.
If you can say 'Right, I'm going to put my gym kit by the door,' it's there and then it's almost as if, psychologically, you will go to the gym. Rather than thinking 'I can't be bothered to get my shoes and things,' there is a sense that you have to be organised, which sounds dull. I hate sounding like that but it's probably the only way I can manage it.
RYG: Do you look good at the gym?
KS: Yeah right (laughs). I love stripping my make-up off. I would never go to the gym wearing make-up. I don't care what I look like, as long as I'm vaguely anonymous. I'm not a make-up and gym girl. It's gym, sweat, shower afterwards. Then you can re-invent yourself and walk out feeling lovely. I never look good in the gym.
RYG: What exercises do you do in the gym?
KS: I get bored very quickly so, for me, it has to be a mix of everything. I've just started boxing, which is fabulous. We do it for three minute bursts and I'm exhausted afterwards. I'm grunting and everyone in the gym is looking over asking 'What is she doing?' I love it.
I also do a lot of circuits. I love doing that. I've also just got back into running after having had an injury. My trainer has been absolutely fantastic, helping me with my lolloping running style (laughs), which we've now mended and which means I can run without my back giving in. I no longer lollop and I can run, sort of.
RYG: And you've done a triathlon?
KS: I've done two. I can't remember my times. That wasn't as important as finishing because I found it really hard.
The second time I did it I didn't realise but I was suffering from something called Giardia, which I got when I'd been on holiday, backpacking in Uganda. I was vomiting at the start of the race, so I didn't have a very good time. I'm doing it again this year and I'm hoping to get rid of the demons of the last triathlon, because it was really hard.
RYG: Any tips for those who might like to do it in the future?
KS: Most people hate the swim because not everyone is a strong swimmer. For me that's my strongest bit, because I used to be a competitive swimmer. I would just say, get your swimming right and pace yourself. Don't just go for the time. If it's your first one, maybe do a relay with your friends. That's fun because you can choose which leg you want to do. The best ones I've done are with my friends. I love doing them.
RYG: How did you prepare for the Ultimate Wild Water programme?
KS: I didn't is the honest answer. The Ultimate Wild Water programme was presented to me as a nice, gentile thing to do. 'We'll follow the river from source to sea and check out how the water responds and acts in between.' I thought 'That sounds like a nice programme to do.' It was made by the same people that make Coast and it sounded quite gentile. They just kept upping the ante.
It all began with them saying 'How competent are you in a kayak?' I thought 'I've done a little bit, I should be ok, but I can't do the Eskimo roll.' They started me off in a swimming pool, and I had two hours to master that before getting on the river the next day.
I kept phoning home and saying 'I can't believe I've cried for the fourth time,' and my Dad would say 'She's cried again, what's wrong with her?' because I'm the tomboy of the family. Then they saw the programme and my sister said 'Alright, now we can see why.'
It gave me a huge sense of achievement and the biggest thing is that sense of overcoming your fear, which everybody has. I overcame my fear of being in open water. I've just come back from the South of France and I actually swam out to sea for the first time, which was lovely. I've never done that before.
I was so heartened by the people writing in afterwards. I had hundreds of emails and letters from people. An elderly lady contacted me saying that she had never put her head under the water. She went to her swimming pool and said to her instructor 'Make me do it today, Kate's done this kayaking thing, I want to do it.' A little girl was suffering from cancer said 'I've just gone out and bought my wetsuit, I'm going to learn how to kayak, get out and beat this thing.' That was lovely.
That was television at its best for me. I'll blow the trumpet for the director and for everybody involved in it. They knew how to press my buttons. They knew I'm the sort of person that won't say no. Every time they said to me 'You can give up now if you like,' I said 'I am not giving up!' They then kept upping the ante.
RYG: What was it that made you want to overcome your fear of open water?
KS: I have never wanted to be beholden to my fear. There's the fear that you learn when you're young. For example, you see a spider, your mother screams, you grow up thinking spiders aren't that great. There's the other fear that is an inherent instinct that says 'If you jump off this rock, you might hurt yourself and you shouldn't be doing it.'
You need to ask yourself 'Which fear is this? Is this my learned behaviour or is this the sensible instinct saying quit while you're ahead?' The two merged with me and I was absolutely petrified.
There were two occasions when I said 'No, I can't do this,' because I just knew that my level of competence was nowhere near. I went out into open water, just me and the kayak. People say 'There were support teams there,' but the safety crews were a long way away, because my director was saying 'Nobody in shot, everybody move back,' (laughs).
It was just me and the sea. That's when, without sounding too corny, you reach within and say to yourself 'I'm not giving into this.' I don't know where that comes from, but I think we all have it.
It does you good to dig deep and say to yourself 'I'm not letting anything or anyone stop me from doing this.' I really believe that we've all got that and we can tap into it. Sometimes you need to step outside your comfort zone, focus and say 'I can do this.' That's what got me through.
RYG: Which sport brings out the best in you?
KS: Swimming brings out the best in me. I've always swum. I swam competitively from a very young age. I started when I was about eight-years-old. I trained five or six days a week, sometimes twice a day. I loved it but it got too much after a while. When I was fourteen, I spent too much time doing it, so I decided to focus on my school work.
It set me up, physically, for life. As soon as I hit the water I'm like a little water baby. I have my underwater music playing and I can go up and down and up and down. I switch off. For me it's like a form of yoga and it completely restores my sense of equilibrium.
I love going out every day and training and being part of the team, and having friendships built up over a number of years.
Ireland and British and Irish Lions rugby player
Colin Jackson reveals more top tips on making exercise part of your lifestyle.