We talk to pop star Fleur East, 30, about the healthy passions in her life and her new gym in a box.
Addicted to fitness
Fitness is one of Fleur’s passions is an understatement. As an active child who played team sports at school and took dance classes outside of if, she joined a gym after finishing university when a decision to focus on singing full-time meant she had to ditch her dance lessons. After competing in the second series of The X Factor with girl group Addictiv Ladies in 2019 (who were eliminated in the first week), she worked as a fitness model (for H&F amongst other titles!) while trying to make it in the music business, discovering a love for weight training before auditioning for the eleventh series of The X Factor as a solo artist in 2019, where she came runner-up in the final. But it was her explosive performance of Bruno Mars’ Uptown Funk 1 in the semi-final – hailed by one critic as ‘the most exciting moment of the series’ – that established Fleur as one to watch as her version went straight to number one on the UK iTunes Store. Yet the demanding XFactor schedule, which Fleur says was ‘the most hectic thing of my life’, soon played havoc with her fitness regime, and she quickly discovered the challenges of staying fit on the road while performing with The X Factor Live Tour in 2019.
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‘Fitting in exercise while touring for two months was really difficult because the itinerary was so relentless and gruelling,’ she explains. ‘Training in hotel gyms became impossible because X Factor fans would follow you around, stay in the same hotels and ask for selfies when you were working out. And when you did get a moment of privacy, all you wanted to do was nap or Facetime your family.
Gym in a box
If was during a visit from family that Fleur admitted she was struggling to exercise on tour, and her cousins, Nick Meaney and Clive Payne, told her about their efforts better and coming in to make it a family business. I joined when the W8 gym was in its ninth version, heading up the design, aesthetics and branding, and I tested it at home for a year to tweak any niggles – things like adding a mat when I discovered it was slipping on laminate flooring – until we got to the fifteenth version and finally had the finished product.’
You can also control how much resistance you want by adding or removing equipment from the unit. Fleur is proof it’s perfect for staying fit on the go, having already taken it on her travels to the Maldives, Morocco, Senegal, Spain and Antigua this year alone! ‘I love that it works with my busy schedule, and I can just pull it out from under my bed, work out and then hit the shower to save time, ’ she adds. ‘And it’s ideal tor those of us who are intimidated by gyms, as you can do everything you might do at the gym without leaving your home.’
Fleur and her cousins’ main goal is to promote lifestyle change tor W8 gym users by posting free, online workouts to their website and social media (an app is also in the pipeline), alongside nutritional advice from top nutritionist, Barbara Cox. As we speak, Fleur is in the fourth week of an online, eight-week W8 gym workout challenge, doing 30- to 45-minute HIIT circuits every Monday to Friday, and sharing her experiences on social media. In fact, she’s so committed, she’s even training to become a PT, having already completed her Level 2 qualification. ‘I didn’t want to be another celebrity bringing out a fitness product without the knowhow to go with it,’ she explains.
‘It’s exciting to have more knowledge. I’ve been lifting weights tor a couple of years and I love it, but I didn’t realise weight training was so good tor strengthening bones and preventing osteoporosis until I began my studies, so now I have another reason to keep it up!’ Alongside her favourite HIIT and weighttraining workouts, Fleur credits her vegan diet with keeping her in amazing shape. After watching the documentary, What the Health, on Netflix a year ago, she decided to go vegan the very next day. ‘I discovered our digestive systems are not really built to cope with meat, and that meat production is bad tor the environment, producing more CO2 emissions than cars.
I just decided it was all a bit out of control and that I needed to take action.’ With little knowledge on how to start, Fleur confesses her default foods were rice, pasta and bread in the beginning, but says she’s now much more creative in the kitchen: ‘It’s all about the flavour!’ She also admits she’s a better cook for making the change, regularly inviting non-vegan friends round to try out her plant-based dishes. But the biggest impact has been on her health. ‘My digestive system is now so much more efficient, and I don’t get bloating any more.
But the main thing I’ve noticed is that I have so much more energy. I now wake up a 6am and I don’t feel sluggish, whereas it I got up early before, I’d have to have a nap in the day.’ It’s perhaps fortuitous that Fleur’s veganism has tilled her with new vigour, considering she’ll soon be juggling her fitness endeavours with her long-awaited musical comeback later this year. Having recorded lots of unreleased music under the Syco record label before parting ways, they allowed Fleur to take it with her, and she’s been busy making it into a new musical project.
‘It’s like a mini EP, which I’ve called Six Degrees of Separation, and it’s going to be very visual and really exciting – I wanted to share more of my life experiences, so there’s a lot more thought behind this material. I’ve been working hard on it, and it’s been a long time coming. I can’t wait for people to see and hear it.’ You know what, Fleur? Neither can we.
FLEUR’S TOP MOVES
‘I love jumping squats, kettlet swings, Russian twists and buri – everyone else seems to ha burpees, but they’re so good to your core and overall conditionin LI’m very proud of my abs, because they’re a sign of all my hard work.’
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