Businesswoman, former Dragon’s Den star and interior designer Kelly Hoppen, 59, talks about how she stays fit and healthy. Interview by Jane Oddy.
Kelly Hoppen’s exercise routine
I love exercise and it’s a way of life for me. I have a home gym and I work out early every morning, except Sundays, for up to an hour-and-a-half, with three different trainers including Efua Baker (a celebrity fitness trainer). When I first started my business, everyone used to think I was a nutter exercising so early but now lots of my employees do it. Even when I was on the BBC show Dragon’s Den, I was up at 5am to train before hair and make-up. That’s how important it is to me.
Over the years, I’ve suffered back injuries. Some days my training focuses on hardcore glutes and leg exercises to protect my lower back, other times, the routine might be specific to arms or stomach. It helps me if I visual the muscle I’m working on. Exercise is like my meditation and I always feel better for it; it has also helped me to cope with traumatic events in my life like divorce and losing my father. Once a year, I go to a private boot camp with Efua, where I train four times a day. I even work out on holidays but last year, I had flu very badly when I was in LA and I was in bed for five days. I rested and listened to my body, but I wasn’t happy! And I just installed a massive project in Hong Kong and was literally too tired to train because I was doing 50,000 steps a day. I didn’t beat myself up about it though. I am no Superwoman, but for me, training gets my head in the right frame of mind for the incredibly large, stressful business that I run. It keeps me emotionally balanced every single day. Plus laughing a lot and eating healthily. My partner (retired businessman John Gardiner) also trains, so it’s in our household.
Kelly on turning 60
I am 60 in July but I think I look better than I did when I was younger. I look at old pictures and think, Oh God! I am not worried about ageing, I don’t really care. I am comfortable in my own skin. But it is a state of mind. I don’t regret anything in my life because it has made me who I am today. There have been times I’ve been really sad, when there has been death in my family, when I have been insecure or put on weight. But now I feel so good and wouldn’t change anything. I also make a conscious effort to limit my alcohol intake, and to ensure I get enough sleep. I am fortunate in that I have always slept well and I love it. Most nights, if we’re not out, I am in bed by 10pm so I will have seven to eight hours and that’s enough to refresh me. Also, I am not a big drinker, it’s never been an issue for me. You have to make a choice if you want to be fit and healthy. The occasional blow out is fun, even though I feel terrible the next day. My new favourite tipple is the cocktail piscou sour. I designed a piscou bar for the Lux Hotel in Mauritius and they made one for me and I though ‘Whoa! This is good!’ They proved a big hit at one of our legendary dinner parties!
I used to be overweight, says Kelly Hoppen
I was overweight as a teenager. I was insecure and I definitely struggled through puberty and didn’t go out much. It affected me. Then when I was 17, I started my own business and it was successful very quickly so I began to get focus and confidence, and started working out. But it was more Jane Fonda-type classes wearing leg warmers and hand-waving. I’d love to do that again! After I had my daughter Natasha at 23, I lost a lot of weight. From there on, my weight has always been pretty stable and I am a regular size eight.
Kelly Hoppen’s diet
I am not on a diet but I am aware of nutrition. I am good on portion size and follow an alkaline diet. I’ve cut out gluten, dairy and refined sugar and eat good protein, carbs, fat and a variety of fruit and vegetables. My daughter Tash (Natasha Corrett, founder of Honestly Healthy) opened my eyes to the benefits of healthy eating and the impact on my wellbeing. When I get up, I have my hot water with lemon, then I will allow myself a couple of shots of black coffee, and then it’s herbal tea all day. Breakfast is my favourite meal; either pancakes with fruit, porridge, or an egg-white omelette with tuna and spinach. I have so much on with work that I have meals delivered to me at the studio, at the moment I’m using the company Bespoke Fuel. It is organic food and all balanced out to whatever energy I need. A typical lunch will be grilled chicken with curry sauce, cauliflower rice and broccoli, and for dinner I will have fish. It’s perfect because my schedule is so crazy, I don’t have time to cook. I am a very clean cook on weekends. I only eat meat occasionally and I could easily become a pescetarian but when I tried to be vegan because of Tash, I found that pulses didn’t agree with me. Although I love dark chocolate, I prefer salty food. I snack on rice cakes in Marmite and nuts. My guilty pleasure would be a whole bag of Kettle chips. But my last meal on earth would 100 % have to be gluten-free pizza. Followed by another one. It’s my ultimate.
I have insecurities like any woman but I would say I am happy with my body. Even so, I want to make a transformation this year, and show it in video content so women can see that age doesn’t matter. Today, a 60-year-old woman can be like a 40-year-old. Unless you are sick, or have injuries, anything is possible. I believe you can have the body you want, you’ve just got to work really hard at it. But there are a lot of factors that can determine finding that time and I do understand that. Of course, there are days when I don’t want to train, when I am tired or feeling lazy, but I know that I am going to feel great afterwards, so I push myself. Even 20 minutes exercise in the morning gets the endorphins going. My partner says, ‘What more can you do to your body? It’s perfect,’ which is so supportive, but my character is competitive, and I always feel I can do better; I am high achieving. I started cross country skiing this spring, and when we go to our house abroad in the summer, we go hiking in France and I’m planning to take up cycling. When the weather is good, I will go for a power walk or a jog in the park near my home in London. It’s important to have that balance of outdoor exercise and get fresh air as well. For more than 20 years, I did Pilates under an incredible private instructor and I used to go to classes every day with my second husband Ed (American banker Edwin Miller, father to Kelly’s stepdaughters Sienna and Savannah Miller) but now I only do floor Pilates occasionally.
My mother had breast cancer so I decided not to go down the HRT route. I have been seeing Dr Martin Galy for the past eight years who is a leading figure in the use of bio-identical hormone treatments (BHRT) which I’ve been taking. He is life changing and got me through the menopause. I feel amazing. To support my immune system, I take B vitamins every day, a probiotic, amino acids after my meals and a thyroid supplement because I have a slightly under-active thyroid, and a fish oil twice a day which has definitely improved my dry skin. I count my lucky stars daily that I still have my energy and drive. I think I inherited it from my mother, she only sold her business a year ago and she is 80
Kelly’s family life
I have a grandson Rudy now who is 20 months. He is the apple of my eye. It is the most unexpected love affair of my life. I am obsessed. I am called ‘glammie’. I don’t care what he calls me, it is the best thing in the world. We really are close, we have such a special relationship. When he sees me he rushes into my arms and we just play. When I am with him my phone is switched off. It is the only thing in my entire life that has stopped me entirely doing anything else. It is quite extraordinary.