Fresh from giving audiences an eyeful in the jungle on I’m a Celebrity, hunky stand-up comic Joel Dommett opened up about his training secrets and why you can have too much of a good thing in Attitude’s March 2017 issue.
Take a look at what he told us below:
What first made you interest in fitness?
I think I’ve always been interested. But it’s only in the past couple of years that I really got into it and I think that stemmed from my fear of being single. I was into it slightly when I was in a relationship, and then I left that relationship and suddenly I started doing sit-ups.
So, it was to look good for someone else?
I think just to look good for anyone else. I thought: “Ok, I gotta shape up because I want to find a high calibre of person.” I think that’s what happens to a lot of people; you get single and then you get fit. And then you realise, you know what? You can do all the sit-ups in the world but maybe you have to work on your heart first. “How are you gonna love somebody else if you can’t love yourself?” as RuPaul famously said.
And besides the pressures of being single, did you feel extra pressure to step up your fitness going into the jungle on I’m a Celebrity?
I kind of did. I just generally did a lot of fitness anyway so I didn’t have to step it up that much. I didn’t go on a crazy intense workout schedule before I went in or anything. For a week before you go in, you’re locked in a hotel and you have your phone taken from you so basically all you can do is work out.
And what do you do in your normal routine?
I do CrossFit every day. I usually train in the mornings, have breakfast with my friends then I sort of eat for the rest of the day, do some writing in the afternoon and then go to a gig. Basically, I see fitness as being really fun and that’s the key to enjoying it. So many people go “Oh I’ve got to go to the gym, I’ve gotta do this I’ve gotta do that.” There are so many ways to get fit, you just need to find one that’s exciting and then it’ll be easier to keep it up. With Geordie Shore and other things like that, the idea is that you need to be muscly, it’s constantly about being muscly. I think body image is a fairly new issue for men. They are catching up with women now but I think it’s probably been an issue for gay men for a lot longer. And now the rest of the male world is catching up on that. I think it’s a good thing in a way because everyone is getting fitter but it’s bad when people are abusing it – there are so many more people addicted to steroids and people taking short cuts.
True, I’ve heard CrossFit gets really addictive too.
So addictive, it’s like a massive cult! If I wasn’t doing it and I heard myself talking about it, I would absolutely hate me. When you’re in a cult, to everyone else who’s not in that cult you seem like the word “cult” but with one letter different…
And back in the jungle did you have a strategy to keep your fitness level up on the show?
I really tried, I really tried [laughs]. Obviously, I was very aware that I had my top off lots, but Wayne [Bridge, a retired England footballer] and I worked out together most days. We found these steps that we could do pull ups on, and then we’d just do press ups and sit ups. It was great, just like being in prison.
Was there an element of just relieving boredom?
Definitely. Time just goes so slowly. You’re in this odd paradox where you’re sitting there going, “I’m so bored, I’d love to work out right now,” but you’re so tired you can’t be bothered. It was so difficult to be active and energetic and fun all the time.
And I guess that’s more about diet than anything else at those times.
Oh listen, you just want everything to be in you. I would just be cleaning up grains of rice from the pan. I became feral. They gave us weird things to eat such as an alpaca’s neck and I’d stand by the bin waiting for people to throw their bones away because I felt there was more meat left – sucking an alpaca’s neck as if I was a feral child, it was disgusting. And then, of course, you get out and just eat everything. After four weeks, you develop this instinct of just putting everything you find into your mouth!
Like a toddler?
[Laughs] Yes, like a toddler, or a dog. You know like a dog has no control and they will see something like a bag of chocolates, eat it and then vomit everywhere? I’m going to tell you the best, the most disgusting story. So, they flew us back business class and I kept asking the air steward for more and more food, I couldn’t stop eating. But your body is just not ready for you to eat that much. It was the first time I’d flown business class but basically the seats are staggered so that you’re weirdly looking someone in the eye. I was topping and tailing with a banker. I ate so much and then my body was like, “Joel you now need to shit yourself.” So, I shat myself, on business class – while staring a businessman in the face. I ruined my, and everyone else’s, business-class experience.
Well, where do we go from there? That show wasn’t the first time you’d stripped off on TV, would you say having a good body gives you more confidence? And does that come through in your stand-up, too?
It’s kind of the opposite, weirdly. I like working out, that’s part of my routine. As a comedian, because you’re working at night, it’s nice to give your day a routine. Keeping fit gets me up early and it gets me working and it makes me productive. That’s why I do it and I genuinely enjoy it. Until the jungle, I kept myself a bit more covered up because I thought people wouldn’t find me funny if I was showing it off more. That was something I was really worried about going in, I was worried people would go: “Oh he can’t be a comedian, he’s got abs.”
Well the cliché goes that it’s the unattractive kid at school who becomes a comedian to make friends, but it is hard to think of many comedians who are really fit and good looking. Do you really think you’re taken less seriously in your profession if you do have abs?
Definitely. I don’t want to say it’s more difficult but you do have to be funny enough to overcome people’s preconceptions. I’ll often kill audiences with kindness. And in a club atmosphere on a Friday night, “lads” don’t want to sit there and watch someone who’s fitter than them. So, I just smash them around the face with smiles and compliments.
Apart from CrossFit what other ways do you keep active?
I do loads of running; I really enjoy it. I usually do at least one competitive 10km run a week. I’ve always run lots; I feel like that’s what I’m naturally pretty good at. I think I could be better at it if I trained properly but I lose so much weight if I just run and run. But I’m going out to Mexico next week to hang out with this tribe, who are basically the best runners in the world, for this TV show I’m making [Are you Fit Enough?]. They run hundreds of miles a day – in sandals.
Tell us more about the show.
Basically, I just go to different tribes all over the world who are the fittest, hardiest tribes because they have to be, because that’s their way of life. So, me and another comedian, Nish Kumar, will be seeing if we can keep up with them. It’s really fun, we’ve been to Mongolia and done wrestling and horse riding and went to Kenya a couple of weeks ago where I was carrying water for miles and miles. Next week it’s Brazil and then we go to China and the Philippines.
Are you secretly training to become the next Bear Grylls?
I’m secretly training to become the next Batman. Unfortunately, my voice is a little bit high, I need to work on that “gravellyness.” Nobody wants to hear me going: “Haaay, Batman’s here to save you!”