Kirsty has a television career that spans two decades. As anchor for Sky Sports News, she covered every major sporting event on the planet, as well as some notable, high-profile interviews: David Beckham, Jordan Speith and Anthony Joshua have all been guests of hers.
Kirsty has a huge passion for health and fitness and trains at least 3 to 4 times a week with her trainer. Alongside her broadcast work, Kirsty continues to be involved in Soccer Aid – the charity football match which pits celebrities against legendary footballers.
In this episode Kirsty explains how important sessions with her personal trainer are to maintaining her physical and mental well-being, and describes how she balances a busy working life with an equally busy family life.
Graham Bell: Welcome to The Power of 10, a brand new series brought to you by Decathlon. The Power of 10 is a mix of one- to- one interviews, plus some positive health tips. It's all about providing advice on how to improve your wellbeing, both in body and in mind. We've got an impressive selection of talented guests lined up for the podcast series, all ready to impart their knowledge, advice, and secrets for improving your fitness. Each episode will provide you with an easy take home message to help improve your mind and body.
I'm Graham Bell, a five time Olympic skier turned reporter and presenter. I've been to a total of 10 Winter Olympic Games. Joining me in this episode of The Power of 10 is Kirsty Gallacher. Kirsty has had a television career spanning two decades. She was anchor for Sky Sports News, covering every major sporting event on the planet, as well as carrying out some notable interviews. David Beckham, Jordan Spieth, Anthony Joshua have all been guests of hers. Kirsty has danced on BBC One's Strictly and progressed to the sixth week despite having never danced before. Kirsty has a huge passion for health and fitness and trains at least three to four times a week with her trainer. And she continues to be involved in Soccer Aid, the charity football match which pits celebrities against legendary footballers. She also has her own podcast called Stripped Back Sport. So a very warm welcome to The Power of 10, Kirsty Gallacher.
Kirsty Gallacher: Thank you very much.
Graham Bell: Okay. Hi, Kirsty. How are you doing?
Kirsty Gallacher: Yeah. Good, good.
Graham Bell: So Kirsty, let's kick things off with, how would you describe your fitness in general?
Kirsty Gallacher: What I'd say, Graham, about my training and my fitness is that I am very fit. I'm very strong. I love weight training and strength work. I'm much more of a sort of sprinter than a long distance runner, even though I did the London Marathon last year. But my trainer knows what I'm like. I roll my eyes when I'm told to do quite a lot of cardio. I don't know why. It's just boring, isn't it? Cardio work, it's just not that fun. I'm training three to four times a week. And if I don't do it, my head goes. My head just goes.
Graham Bell: So where would you say you were at your fittest?
Kirsty Gallacher: I ran the London Marathon, but I had a lot going on with work and I was refurbing our house. And I always wanted to do the marathon, but it's very much not my kind of thing. As I said, I'm much better at short distance. I'm much more powerful than I am sort of endurance, to be honest. And I don't really enjoy that sort of plodding. I can't bear it actually. And my head is like, " Now, what can I do?" I'm a bit of a fidget really, Graham. So I would say I'm fitter now. I'm really focusing on my weight training, my strengths work. I am developing better in that way because I was trying not to do many weights and things when I was doing the London Marathon running because I didn't want to get too heavy, but I probably didn't do enough of anything. So I got round anyway, but it was tough.
Graham Bell: Did you set yourself a target time and were you running to a pace?
Kirsty Gallacher: Well, I did have a target time and I was on course to do it in 4: 20, which would have been quite good for me, but I had a knee injury. I ended up in sort of Bermondsey or somewhere on the pavement having physio for half an hour. And I ended up doing it in 5: 15, which was fine. I sort of was never too bothered about getting a time. I don't really like long distance running. I love just the odd half an hour or whatever. But four or five hours of running is quite something, isn't it? It's quite difficult.
Graham Bell: Yeah, yeah, yeah. So why do you think you keep yourself fit? What's your motivation for keeping fit?
Kirsty Gallacher: So I've always been very sporty and sports captains of my schools and all that. And obviously coming from a background of a sports family being immersed in sport, I've always been really sporty and I've always loved that feeling and I am competitive. I've always trained in different ways. I didn't used to really like the gym. I used to like doing more sort of outsidey stuff or tennis or golf. I love doing that as well.
But I met Mel Deane, my trainer, about four years. It was Rio Ferdinand, who is a friend of mine, got me in touch with, with Mel. And Rio was like, " You really, really got to try Mel." And I was like, " Yeah, yeah, yeah." And I was training with a local guy when I was just at Wentworth, Wentworth Gym. And I was just like, " Yeah, but I'm quite happy with what I'm doing." And it was a difficult time in my life. I'd just got divorced and I was trying to keep all these plates spinning and then Strictly Come Dancing. I was skinny as a rake, actually. I just wasn't doing the right stuff. I wasn't doing enough of the weights or the cardio.
And so, it was time to swap. So started training with Mel Deane. He's an ex rugby player. And honestly, he's unbelievable. It's hardcore, proper weights. And I love it. And we've got plenty of room to do sprints outside.
Graham Bell: So it's kind of like circuit training, CrossFit style training.
Kirsty Gallacher: Yeah. What we do is we generally do, within an hour session, we probably do four circuits of sort of three or four exercises, do that three or four times. We just have fun and I never dread a session. And if I do, like any normal, any person does, I always think of that feeling after and think about how wonderful I feel.
Graham Bell: So it's more of a kind of, it's great for your mental health to do it rather than you have to get to a certain look for your onscreen. Does that have any kind of influence at all, how you look?
Kirsty Gallacher: I think it's both, but it's not so much a vanity thing for me. Obviously we're all aware of our own bodies and what we want to achieve. I like that strong, quite muscly look on a woman. So I look up to women that have muscles. Back in the days of, well, no, Madonna looking amazing and everyone going, " Oh God, she's too sinewy." I'm like, " She looks amazing." For me, that's a strong woman. She's worked hard on that and you've got to take your hat off to someone that can do that. So to me, it's a challenge and I enjoy it and I like looking stronger. I look better when I'm stronger. I think when I'm too skinny, I look older. And I look back at pictures five years ago where I think I look older than I do now.
Graham Bell: What's it like to be constantly under the spotlight? Have you ever been papped while you're training? Is there people kind of hanging around in the bushes, taking pictures?
Kirsty Gallacher: No. Luckily not papped where we train. It's very private. No, I think that's horrible. Under the spotlight's horrible anyway, isn't it?
Graham Bell: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Kirsty Gallacher: But unfortunately it's what we do for a living.
Graham Bell: Yeah. So you've had some challenges in your life. The D word, divorce, that hit you pretty hard. I guess it hits everyone hard. How important was keeping physically in shape through that? And could you even do that?
Kirsty Gallacher: To be honest, well, that's sort of when I came to meeting Mel and probably he saved me in many ways. Yeah. I was a skinny, anxious wreck, traumatized because of lots of reasons around the divorce. It's much more complex than people know. There are things you keep private. And I think that Mel got to know me and what I'd been through and was amazing for me. I was running around, I was on Sky Sports News doing very long hours, then driving all the way home and dealing with all the stuff I was dealing with, and then doing Strictly as well. And really, I was just not looking after myself very well. So I was running on empty, is the way of describing it.
Graham Bell: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Kirsty Gallacher: And Mel harnessed everything and got me under control and I started getting an appetite, and it just kind of all came together really. And he's brilliant to talk to. And yeah, he was a godsend and he has been a pillar of strength in every way to me, so.
Graham Bell: And how important is being fit for your work? Is it stressful if you're covering, say, a big event and a big event leading up to that, do you find that going into that being fit makes a big difference?
Kirsty Gallacher: Absolutely. I think it's quite important for my job, mainly being a sports presenter. Even though I'm freelance now, there's no difference because I'm now doing my own podcast where I'm basically interviewing sports men and women and going right back their journey. And I think it's really good to have knowledge of fitness when you're talking to people who are doing this for a living.
Graham Bell: Yeah, yeah.
Kirsty Gallacher: And I've always said that. I don't understand how some people can't train and be fit and still, they talk to these... To me, it's like part of the research, isn't it?
Graham Bell: Yeah.
Kirsty Gallacher: It's part of, because you can empathize and you understand. You're like, " Yeah, I get you, I understand what you mean," and it kind of makes sense.
Graham Bell: Yeah, I think the days of the overweight sports presenter, I think that's all changed, hasn't it?
Kirsty Gallacher: I do always switch it up again when I'm going to host a big event or do something for Soccer Aid on ITV this year, which we luckily still carried on and did in September. I upped my training that week, purely also mentally, as you said. It just gets you on the ball more. I have that mentality. I don't know if that comes from being the daughter of a professional sportsman as well, where you have to have the right mindset for it.
Graham Bell: Yeah. Did you find that? Growing up with Bernard Gallacher, top golfer, as your dad, were you expected to do well at sports?
Kirsty Gallacher: Possibly. Yeah, possibly. Funny enough, my brother, he's a very good amateur golfer. He's fantastic and probably could have been a pro. And then there's me who's the sort of, I love sports, but and I would have loved to have been a tennis player, but my sister who's 11 years younger than me is the most unsporty person you've ever met in your life. She's very creative and artsy. She's just not into it at all. She's kind of more yogi and that sort of stuff.
Graham Bell: Yeah.
Kirsty Gallacher: But yeah, I guess it could have gone either way with me, that you're either loving it or hating it, but I luckily love it.
Graham Bell: So you've interviewed some amazing sports stars. Who's the most memorable person that you've ever interviewed? And who would be the most inspirational for you?
Kirsty Gallacher: Oh God, that's a hard one. That's a tough one. I adored speaking to Roger Federer. He is the most incredibly wonderful, lovely, intelligent, brilliant, man. I can't say that there aren't enough words to describe. He's had a brilliant career so far, he's still going strong. And when you talk to him, you're almost like your heart just slows down. It was quite something. I was like, " You really are..." I had to check myself back, going, "Don't don't say anything stupid, Kirsty."
But I was just sat thinking, wow, you are brilliant and in every way. He was the kindest, most giving. Yeah, brilliant, brilliant person to interview. That was in Paris, actually, about... Well, I've met him a couple of times, but I did a big interview around the French Open. It would have been about six, seven years ago for Sky Sports, and they separated it that week over Sky Sports, used it for the tennis Sky Sports News, blah de blah, and Sky News. And it was a big one, yeah. And he gave me loads of time and he was just incredible really.
Graham Bell: So we touched a little bit on the lockdown, the lockdown number one. How did you get through it?
Kirsty Gallacher: We're very lucky where we live. We've moved into the country side, not far from where we were, but we've got the most stunning walks and land and everything. And I did do some running, short runs and then Zoom sessions with Mel Deane, which was priceless because I haven't got lots of weights here or anything. I've got some very light weights that really probably I could pick up with my sort of finger now. It was a bit like, " Oh." My mum and dad gave me some weights. I was like, " Mom, that's not going to do a lot, but thank you. Wonderful."
He's very good at kind of working around what you can do. And so he said, " Right, get a rucksack." And I was like, " Right." He said, " Right, go and get some magazines." So I got all the old Vogue magazines that I collect and weight it basically like a weighted vest type thing.
Graham Bell: Yeah, yeah.
Kirsty Gallacher: Yeah. And you could use it as sort of to press or to push or whatever, or any pulls or anything like that. But we had to make do. I ordered my Resistance TheraBands on the Amazon website. I got another mat that was better. And we just made do, and it was fine. It wasn't ideal. But I was raring to get back in that gym and lift some heavy weights. We ate really well. And we were healthy and I did more cooking than ever so it was quite good because you were able to control things more.
Graham Bell: I've got stuff at home that I do. So I've got weights at home. And when I started training for Dancing on Ice, I got a lot of heavy bags and you actually have to get better balance for lifting a bag over your head rather than just lifting a weight. So that's what I've been doing a lot more of.
So if we were going to break things down into two clear sections, body and soul, your fitness regime, what do you do to separate the two? Or that whole thing, is it just emerged together in one?
Kirsty Gallacher: Well, they talk about the parasympathetic and the sympathetic, don't they? And I've been told before that if you do these heavyweight sessions, you also need to be doing a bit more Pilates, gentle or yoga, more stuff. I probably don't do enough of that stuff, if I'm honest with you. I'm quite 100 miles an hour with two little, well, one teenager and one little boy of 10, so Oscar and Jude. I think it's tough. I have to check myself back sometimes.
Graham Bell: So you don't have a kind of meditation session in the evening or a stretching session?
Kirsty Gallacher: I'm doing more stretching. I'm doing more stretching because as I'm getting older, my body's not loving what I do always, and I'm starting to wake up and go, " Oh, I can't move my arm. Oh, you're 44, yeah, and you did a big wave session yesterday and then you slept on it badly." But no, I need to do more of that. And I am learning that you've got to listen to your body, as you know, and also as we age, you've got to be careful.
So what I do do, and I have this amazing woman who is hardcore, she's basically a physio/ sports masseuse, and she comes and I say kills me on the bed. Literally, it's not relaxing deep tissue massage. She gives me an MOT. It's brilliant actually. It's sore. But she gives me an MOT. I should probably do it more than once a month, but she will, yeah, give me a proper checkup. And she was great to the marathon last year. And I do that. I do like my luxury things like proper massage when I can. But I probably don't do enough of the stuff that would be good to counter what I'm doing with Mel. I know that I always talk to myself about that and go, " You really need to look after yourself a bit, be more gentle."
Graham Bell: So how do you relax and calm down?
Kirsty Gallacher: I would always say that trainings by relaxing thing. My hour, I drive up to Richmond. That's actually therapeutic. So I live further away now, so I really enjoy it. I plan my sessions around my work. I drive up, do my session, drive back, listen to music. I guess that's part of the joy. I try not to make work calls and calls all the way there and all the way back. I try to give myself that kind of time of going, " Well done, you did a session. Now you can relax, listen to some music, enjoy it." So I guess that's part of the meditation. If you can say driving and listening to music is meditation, then maybe that's part of why I do always feel great after.
Graham Bell: Yeah. And it does kind of give you a chance to kind of turn your mind off and just think, right okay, I'm doing this session now. And then afterwards, relax afterwards.
Kirsty Gallacher: I love driving as well, so I enjoy that whole process of doing something good. Then you can tick that off and get home and get on with your day.
Graham Bell: What about diet? Do you stick to a healthy diet? Or how difficult is that?
Kirsty Gallacher: Yeah, we do. I was brought up with, my mom's a dietician, so she doesn't practice now, but she did for years when we were younger and her knowledge is still brilliant. She's still reads all the dietetic magazines and all the rest of it. But she's very clever, my mom, and it's always been about a balanced diet, not dieting. If I say, " What do you think of this or that?". She'll always be, " No, no, just stick to your balanced diet. You know what you're doing."
We eat healthily, and having two little boys, one of them loves his food and the other is a bit picky and a bit kind of basic. It's a bit like, " Oh, I don't want that, that, that, that." I think, if anything, lockdown has taught me that I love cooking more than I ever have. I really enjoyed the whole meal time thing with the kids and cooking and taking the time because you've got the time. I really enjoyed that process, which I probably, we're always at 100 miles an hour, aren't we? And it's like, " Oh God, do I have to make dinner again?" And think of what to have. And so, I think we've been eating really well, more than ever really. But I enjoy eating well, I'm a good eater.
Graham Bell: And you've passed that onto your kids as well? They don't kind of sneak out and buy crisps and chocolate and hide it around the house?
Kirsty Gallacher: No. So Jude and I, the ten- year- old and I, have a very spicy kind of tongue. I love anything spicy. I love more sour sort of tastes or savory. I'm not sweet eater at all. Very rarely have chocolate or desserts or anything like that. Whereas Oscar, my 14 year old, is much more... Yeah. Yeah, he's the one that doesn't eat so well. But he's still fine.
But the other thing I do do, which I really enjoy doing, and I don't know how you feel about intermittent fasting, quite enjoy doing that 12:00 until 6: 00. So I only after 12: 00 PM before 6: 00 PM and then I won't eat until midday again the next day. I really enjoy, but eat really well. So you eat well, you eat as much as you can, but really well. And actually, my body really enjoys that sort of process. So I try to do that when I can. It's not so easy with the kids, I have to say, because I like our meal times together. Ones at weekly boarding school now, but Jude doesn't get home until 5: 30 from school. So when they're with their dad, I generally will try and fast and do that fasting. Do you ever do that?
Graham Bell: Not really, no. I'd rather just train more. For me, it also depends if I'm doing massive, if I've kind of signed up to do something stupid like run the Marathon des Sables or do something crazy and I'm training really, really, really hard, then you basically, you end up eating all the time because you're training on the bike for five hours. You've got to take food with you, otherwise you're going to bonk horribly and not make it back.
Kirsty Gallacher: I'm not quite as active as that, I don't think. Sadly.
Graham Bell: Well, the trouble is, and it's what a lot of sportsmen get into, is that they have such a massive calorie burn and they get used to that. And then they stop the training, but the food intake continues the same, and that is the problem.
Kirsty Gallacher: But that's right. That's what a lot moan about when they finished playing or whatever. Yeah, exactly. They wonder why they put the calories on and get a little bit of a stomach.
Graham Bell: Yeah, yeah. That is exactly why.
Kirsty Gallacher: It's quite a different world, isn't it? Quite a different place.
Graham Bell: Yeah. So it's time to shift gear now and move on to the Decathlon section of the podcast. It's one of the toughest athletic contests out there, made famous by Daley Thompson. But hopefully these questions won't be quite as tough. So this is it, The Decathlon, brought to you by Decathlon. So let's go for it. Question one. What's your exercise of choice?
Kirsty Gallacher: I quite like squats. Weighted squats.
Graham Bell: Weighted squats. Brilliant.
Kirsty Gallacher: Love it.
Graham Bell: Do you work out alone or with friends?
Kirsty Gallacher: I enjoy both, actually. I enjoy both. I actually love it when a friend joins the session, like I buddy up with a friend, mainly with my trainer but I can do it on my own as well, because it pushes me more because I am competitive.
Graham Bell: What time of day do you prefer to exercise?
Kirsty Gallacher: Mid to late morning is my perfect time to train. Body loves it.
Graham Bell: What's the best thing about exercise?
Kirsty Gallacher: The feeling after. Feeling straight after. You know that you're working towards something, but that feeling right after, especially if you've not been able to get out of some bed quite as quickly as you wanted to, and you've gone, "Uh, I can't be bothered," you should give yourself a pat on the back really. It's one of those moments.
Graham Bell: How'd you refuel after a workout?
Kirsty Gallacher: I have a protein shake and then I will always eat well at lunchtime or brunch, or whatever because it will be morning. So I'll always eat and refuel straight after and then I feel good, yeah.
Graham Bell: How do you relax?
Kirsty Gallacher: Well, I actually not reading. Ironically, I'm not a TV watcher. There are certain things I like, but I'm not someone who's going to sit down on the sofa and watch a whole box set one night. I'm much more into reading books and that's my switch off that's my time. I could do that any time of day. If I'm tired from a session or instead of a nap, because I am getting older, I'll sit down and read a few pages. I love it.
Graham Bell: What's the hardest thing about keeping fit?
Kirsty Gallacher: Oh gosh, that's a good question. The hardest thing about keeping fit. Well, I think it's like anyone and anyone's life. If you've got really busy times and you're up to your eyes for whatever reason, or you've got stuff going on emotionally or your kids, there's something, I think it's that commitment, isn't it? And not letting that go because I do keep it all going. And I schedule in my sessions. I'm very committed. If I feel like one week is busier, I get this guilt thing. It makes me feel really, I know there's nothing you can do because we can't all have it all our own way all the time, but I hate that feeling. It makes me feel out of control. That's the hardest thing about being committed, I think, is that you sometimes have to go, " I can't actually do all those sessions this week. I haven't got time." But that for me is quite difficult for me to, I can't fathom that very well.
Graham Bell: And how do you maintain motivation?
Kirsty Gallacher: Actually, what I do is I schedule in my week, so I plan it all. So I really try and make sure that I've got this sort of timetable of training around my work and the kids' activities and stuff. And that makes me feel better because I know I look at that and go, " Yeah." You're already committing, aren't you, I think.
Graham Bell: Do you have a fitness secret?
Kirsty Gallacher: Goods apparel, as in wearing the right stuff. And I wear fitness gear pretty much all week. I now like to call it sports luxe, which is basically fitness gear every day, but maybe with a crop top and the leggings. But yeah, I dress up basically fitness gear, yeah.
Graham Bell: And final question, it's Saturday night, how do you kick back and relax?
Kirsty Gallacher: I love being with friends and have dinner parties or going somewhere for dinner. I've never been a bar person or a club person. And with kids as well. I love that kind of, if we get together with friends or I cook and we have kids as well, there's nothing nicer than relaxing and having a glass of wine and chilling out like that.
Graham Bell: Well, a huge thanks to my guest this week, Kirsty Gallacher. But before we go, out of all the things we've talked about, is there one key health and fitness message that you'd like to impart to the listeners?
Kirsty Gallacher: Yeah. Well, there's lots of things I could say. But I think on the motivation side, I think if someone's just started getting into fitness and sport or is just starting, and they want to really get their head down and commit, I always say, " Remember the feeling after you've trained," and that is the feeling to go into your session with. So I always, especially a day where I'm feeling less motivated, or I've got lots in my diary and I'm like, " Do you know what? I've really not got time for this," I always sort of think, Kirsty, remember how great when you literally bounce out the gym, which I do, because it really helps me mentally, chemically and physically. And I always try to impart that to people who go, " God, but I can't be bothered." I think I'm trying to remember the feeling that after is so wonderful, but try and get that before and try and bottle it. And that's my little tip for today.
Graham Bell: Cool. Well, thank you very much for joining me, and I'll check out your podcast, Stripped Back Sport. The Power of 10 was brought to you by Decathlon. Be sure to subscribe so you don't miss out on the next episode.