Okay, so Coronavirus has totally messed up our everyday lives. There’s no where to go, we’re not allowed to meet our mates and we’e only permitted to leave the house for essential shopping, necessary work and an hour of exercise. Which means most of us are stuck in the house watching crappy telly and force-feeding ourselves snacks galore. And we all know what that will lead to, right? Yep, bulbous bellies, fat faces and thick wobbly thighs. So what are we going to do about it, eh? Take that cherished one hour outside to run around the block like a loony with our boobs giving us black eyes? Fuck that, there’s better things to do in the sunshine. And luckily for us, there are a hundred and one people online happy to help us to sort out our bods before we burst!
But if you can’t bear the squeaky sound of Joe Wicks The Body Coach’s voice, there’s another fit lad online who’s even better – and just as easy on the eye! Meet actor and PT James Colebrook, 26, who has decided to fill his days in the London flat he shares with his boyfriend to teach us some easy-to-do moves at home that could work miracles on our waistlines and bums!
After lockdown was introduced, the dashing actor decided to post short work out clips on Instagram that he catchily branded #LeanInQuarantine. We’ve tried some (well, we watched a couple) and it’s proved to be a hoot. Our eyes have exercised good and proper! We caught up with the handsome fella to chat about his day routines, how he’s coping in lockdown and why keeping fit has been a brilliant tool for his mental health.
You have been trying to get the nation fit and healthy during out self isolation. What made you do it?
I initially began my #LeanInQuarantine workouts as a ‘this is something I’m doing for myself, but if you want to have a go and join in as well. Absolutely do it!’ For me I use exercise as a form of medicine and a way to distract myself from refreshing BBC news constantly. That endorphin rush is everything to me.
You’re an actor by trade but you’ve also trained to be a PT – why did you switch careers?
I wouldn’t say switched careers… I think adapted is probably a better term. Acting is a tricky business and is a complete marathon rather than a 100m sprint so takes time for the right thing to come along. I essentially got bored and sick of working lots of long hours for barely any money and wanted to get some security behind me,. But I also wanted something that had flexibility for me to still pursue acting. PT and fitness instructing was that. I absolutely love it!
Why is it important for us to keep ourselves active during this weird time?
Even if people don’t believe they are physically fit or very active, you will find that you are. Everyday you walk to the tube, you walk to the office, you walk up the stairs – all are forms of activity and exercise we do daily that we are suddenly not allowed to do anymore. It’s good to keep active because it makes us happy. There is a release of endorphins after exercising that triggers positivity and happy feelings. Aside from that, it will help manage our sleep still. I find if I don’t exercise I have all this extra energy I don’t know what to do with so can be up for hours longer than I wanted.
How has this lockdown situation been for you? Has living with your boyfriend been easy?
It has been very weird. When I was working, some days I would leave the house at 4.45am and get home at 9pm. So it has been a nice break from that, but I like to be busy so part of me feels guilty for not being as busy. But living with my boyfriend has been amazing, we have had a project of moving house during all this and he’s been really supportive of all the workouts I’ve been doing as well, he has even done a couple!
What does your daily Covid-19 routine consist of?
Once I am up, have a shower, depending on the time I will have a coffee and either a piece of fruit or small bowl of cereal. This is when I will review the workout I have planned to record and edit any exercises or timings that I feel may be too easy/challenging. Once that’s recorded I’ll upload to IGTV and YouTube. Cook lunch for my boyfriend and we watch something, most likely Drag Race. During the afternoon we will go for our daily walk outside, I will most likely play video games and then cook us tea. In the evening we hook up our projector to my PlayStation and watch a film – we are currently working through the Marvel films in chronological order.
Heavens. You said recently you had a dark time and that doing a circuit helped ease your mind. What made you feel so low?
I don’t really know to be precise. I think I probably got a case of cabin fever and the whole isolation and current situation got to me.
How does exercise help the mind?
It helps turn your mind off and just let the body take over and do what you need to do. In some workouts I have programmed exercises with punches, whether into the air or into a cushion just so we can focus to giving as much force as possible, this will release all the pent up emotion, angst and anger. This can be really freeing for our minds.
Has exercise helped you before?
Yes I rely on exercise for his feeling of relief. To me there is no better feeling to working my body to fatigue and putting my all into it.
What kind of things have got you down.
Oh, there is too many to list. I get down when things don’t go well, and I haven’t presented myself in the way I know I can. I always leave situations thinking I could always do better, it’s part of my perfectionist mentality, nothing is ever good enough. I’m working on laughing off the mistakes.
Have you dealt with mental health issues throughout your life?
Looking back on it, yes I have. On a yearly basis I would have four moments throughout the year when my mood would just plummet and I wouldn’t know why. There wouldn’t be any logical reason for it. I just rode the wave. I have always thought things will always get better, because they just have to.
How did you get over it?
I don’t think it will be something I’ll ever properly get over and or have a ‘cure’ for. A few months ago I had one of these dark episodes, where dark thoughts would come and linger longer than usual which was very scary for me. Luckily I can be a logical thinker and be rational at times. This was the point I said to myself enough was enough and sought help. I have been on a course of antidepressants for the last five months. Contrary to what most people think, they aren’t ‘happy pills’. They do however mediate my mood to a healthy middle, so I wake up and I’m already halfway up the mountain, rather than down at the bottom at base camp. They make the day and daily tasks easier to handle and have really helped!
Let’s go back to when did you came out?
I would have been 18/19, though I think I knew I was different from when I was 14.
Was it an easy experience?
I imagine it is a very scary and daunting thought coming out for most people. I was worried because I come from a relatively conservative family background, but everyone was so full of love and support. It was amazing. I couldn’t have a better family and group of friends around me that have and will always love me for who I am. I am very lucky and grateful because I know these are some that aren’t as fortunate.
Did you have a tough time at school?
School was very weird. Myself and my siblings had a rather unique experience. We all went to the same secondary school where our Dad was the headmaster. While this had some advantages it also came with a lot of pressure. There was an expectation to behave and conduct yourself in a certain way. A way that I wasn’t really interested in following. I remember telling the rugby coach that I didn’t want to play rugby, and he said to me ‘you really should because of who you are.’ It just never appealed to me. All I’ve wanted to do since I can remember was performing, so academics were exhausting for me, even though I did do well in exams etc.
Have you thrown yourself into he gay scene or does that not interest you?
When I first came out and was living in Newcastle I did. However when I moved to London, I had too many things on my mind to think about going out on the scene.
Has acting been a tough career to develop? Have there been struggles?
It’s very tough. You just have no control or any certainty in anything. The main struggle is the not knowing. You need to develop a thick skin and train your mind to leave the audition after you’ve left and not think about it afterwards. I leave an audition and always say ‘well that’s that. I’m happy with how I did. In the bin!’ That technique stops me quadruple thinking about every single moment! If it’s meant to be it will.
Have you felt like giving up? Or do you still want to stick at it
I’ve never felt like giving up, there are hard times that are heart breaking but I will continually work on myself, my skills and always give it my all. What’s meant for you won’t pass you by.
The acting world tends to focus on good looking people – was that always a pressure you had.
It’s not something I’ve ever really been hung up about. My main focus is always looking strong. Proving to the panel at face value that I have the physicality and strength to do 8 shows a week.
You’re a good looking fella – have you always been body confident?
Ummm I suppose so. It’s never crossed my mind to be honest. I think I just got used to it. My family probably got bored telling me to put of a top on so I rarely did, and now it’s the norm 😂
You have posed for a lot of underwear shoots – are you happy with your body. What is your favourite feature.
I do look back at the shots and don’t think I look my best. Again that is just my crazy expectations of myself. My favourite feature is my chest though!
When you were younger were you the man you are today?
I think I’m still the same child at heart, I still love playing video games and watching cartoons. So that’s something I haven’t lost, but I suppose my priorities have changed and focusing on the life things like houses and career. Think I’ve kept that essence, but just channelled into a more adult focus point. At times…
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Lean In Quarantine Day 2 everybody, a low impact workout for those that live in a block of flats with moody neighbours, or for those that have bodies that don't respond well to explosive jump like movements . . . . . . . . #coachcolebrook #fitness #fitnesstrainers #trainer #exercise #workout #homeworkout #livingroomworkouts #sweat #hiit #highintensityintervaltraining #lowimpact #core #training #cardio #cardioexercise #followme #justdoit #motivation #youcandothis #onlineexercise #instafit #fitlife #trainthebody #trainthemind #strength #endurance #sprints #muscle #strong
What helped you gain confidence?
Errrrm learning to not care what others think of me. Still learning how to master that one. Also just learning I am in a race with myself. Life isn’t a competition so get out of other people’s lanes and stay in mine.
We live in a superficial world – have you found that some men see you as good looking before they see the real you?
Most likely. Everyone sees the Instagram life of filters and carefully chosen photos. You can’t really gauge a personality, which is why I like doing my videos so people can see what a goon and loser I really am.
How can you tell when someone is genuine?
Still working this one out
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My mate on my forehead who doesn’t want to self isolate and myself are excited to drop a few press up variations to challenge and improve our upper body strength. Video out later this evening! 💪 . . . . . . . . . . . . #coachcolebrook #leaninquarantine #isolation #fitness #fitnessmotivation #fitnessmodel #fitnesstrainer #personaltrainer #upperbodyworkout #upperbodystrength #fitnesschallenge #challengeaccepted #challenge #challengeyourself #pressup #pressups #variations #widegrip #coretraining #armsworkout #arms #muscle #tense #strength #strengthtraining #strengthandconditioning #biceps #triceps #strong #followme
Oh really. Schmaltzy as it sounds, is love and marriage what you seek or are you a more open minded guy.
I think there are a lot of things I seek. As long as I have my partner in crime by side every step of the way I know I’ll be happy, whatever route our journey takes.
What are you future plans?
I’m looking forward to building my PT business as well as my acting career.My boyfriend and I have just moved into our own place, so I am excited to make it our own home. Get a dog. Buy a place at some point Get a dog (did I already say that…? I really want one!) Be happy. And get a dog!