Pictures Glen Burrows. Grooming Laura Tucker
This cowl star of August’s Males’s Health has had fairly a 12 months. He went from chopping hair in a back-street barber’s to recognition on each road nook after successful Love Island, 2017’s hit and Bafta-winning ITV2 actuality present. Greater than 2.5 million individuals watched him and Amber Davies depart the present’s Mallorcan villa as king and queen of the last word vacation romance.
However whereas viewers voted in droves for his cheeky and cheerful outlook on life, they didn’t realise that Kem hadn’t all the time been the life and soul of the celebration. Certainly, he spent his early teenagers locked away in his bed room unable to depart the home for varsity or work due to crippling nervousness introduced on by nearly shedding his mum. Discovering the fitness center helped him flip his life round, and now Kem is set to make use of his fame and large social media affect to assist different individuals fighting psychological sickness to get again on their toes too.
It’s been fairly a 12 months for you Kem – has all of it sunk in but?
It’s been an absolute whirlwind. This time final 12 months I used to be a barber in a bit of again road making an attempt to reside a standard life. I had essentially the most regular job of the all of the individuals who have been on the present; just a few of them had celeb buddies and knew how the trade labored. However I used to be so naïve and I feel that’s why I did OK on the present – I didn’t over-think something, I didn’t have a recreation plan, I simply needed to be myself and ended up actually having fun with it, particularly after a few weeks in.
How did you alter whenever you got here again into the true world?
After we left the villa I had wonderful assist and I really feel so lucky that I nonetheless do. Everybody has been so supportive and I feel that’s as a result of with me, what you see is what you get. I’m an open e-book.
Was it powerful coming again to a very totally different life?
Yeah. Everybody sees the glitz and glamour, however it may be powerful and lonely at instances. Like whenever you get up within the morning by your self and see or learn one thing about you on social media or one of many papers. That may be onerous. I went by way of a break-up [with Amber] and that’s powerful when it’s in public, however individuals have been very supportive, even once I wasn’t anticipating it.
Do you know what you have been moving into whenever you utilized for Love Island?
I actually needed to do it, however my mother and father didn’t need me to as a result of once I utilized I had solely simply bought again onto my toes after 4 of 5 years of despair and nervousness. I utilized considering I had no likelihood of getting on: 80,000 individuals tried out, however I simply saved getting by way of spherical after spherical of interviews after which I used to be instructed I used to be going into the villa. My mum was in floods of tears and actually didn’t need me to do it, as a result of my mother and father thought exposing myself to criticism and nasty feedback would ship me again to sq. one. I bear in mind once I instructed my mum I used to be going to do the present, and she or he simply stated, “However I’ve solely simply bought my son again”. The earlier years had been onerous, so it was a danger.
When did your battle with nervousness start?
It began once I was 9 and my mum went in for a routine operation however it went improper. We have been instructed she had 24 hours to reside. I simply went into shock and didn’t actually know what was occurring. Thankfully she recovered, however it took a very long time for her to get higher, and I grew to become extremely protecting of her. I didn’t like strangers speaking to her, and I couldn’t fall asleep except I knew she was house and protected. So I by no means slept at mates’ homes and all the time needed to be close to her. However issues bought actually dangerous once I was a bit older, round 15. I suffered my first correct panic assault, though I didn’t know what was occurring on the time. I used to be on a practice to London, and simply had a meltdown. It went downhill rapidly from there and I began to battle at college. I nonetheless performed soccer, which I cherished, however bought injured so I finished taking part in. I managed to get just a few GCSEs, however for a couple of 12 months after my exams I barely left the home, simply staying in my room, anxious and depressed.
Did you realise how critical it was?
I satisfied myself that I used to be positive, and all the pieces was positive, and I’d all the time discover an excuse to not exit. However in my head I drew up an inventory of issues that may by no means occur to me, like occurring a date with a lady, not to mention truly ever getting a girlfriend. And since I’d stopped taking part in soccer and going out I placed on fairly a little bit of weight. I noticed one therapist however it didn’t assist, however then I met one other one. On our first session I bought actually anxious and needed to depart, however she bought up and locked the door! She stated she needed me to show to myself that I may keep and full the session – and I did. That was actually one of many huge turning factors, as a result of she made me imagine that I may take small steps in the precise route – like one thing so primary as going to a restaurant, which everybody loves doing, however for a very long time I couldn’t even ponder.
When did you uncover train as a means to deal with what was occurring?
My brother has all the time been into his weights, and once I began I rapidly discovered that coaching, whether or not that was weights or working, actually helped me deal with my nervousness. Each time I began to really feel a bit of anxious I’d placed on my headphones and go for a run or go elevate the weights, and I instantly felt a lot better. It helps me push stuff out of my head. I’m an enormous over-thinker, which I’m making an attempt to channel right into a optimistic factor, however train is the easiest way for me to get stress out of my system. I like pushing myself and feeling my physique actually working onerous, and once I’m within the zone I don’t assume or care about the rest. And I don’t thoughts a little bit of ache – it means I’m working onerous in the direction of to being fitter or stronger or leaner.
What’s your coaching strategy?
I’ve all the time skilled on my own and whereas I’m no professional, I’ve discovered what works greatest for me. I’ll elevate weights 5 – 6 instances per week, specializing in one physique half per session. I like specializing in only one muscle group, and hitting it as onerous as doable. This doesn’t imply I elevate heavy – I hold the load lighter however do high-rep units and concentrate on preserving every rep excellent and getting my respiration proper. Preserving the load a bit lighter and the reps gradual and managed, with plenty of reps per set and quick rests between units, is a good way to actually injury the goal muscle and really feel that burn and get a pump. It’s what actually works for me.
Do you do a lot cardio?
I performed a lot soccer once I was youthful so I nonetheless love cardio and can do a run or incline treadmill stroll after most weights periods, or possibly thrice per week if I’m tight for time. My dad is 66 and he nonetheless runs on a regular basis – and he’s first rate at it! He says that he can’t chill out till he’s bought his run in, and I’m the identical. We practice not only for our our bodies however for our heads. I do know what it’s wish to really feel like shit on a regular basis, and I’m not going to let anybody or something make me really feel like that once more. If I’m taking care of my physique, then I’m taking care of my head too, and meaning I can hold transferring forwards in the precise route.
Vitamin is a large a part of wanting good in addition to feeling good. What’s your food plan like?
Up till three months in the past my food plan was very up and down. I like bread, and carbs, and all the pieces, actually! I’d food plan onerous and lower out all carbs and different meals, and would generally find yourself simply skipping meals as a result of I couldn’t face one other plate of simply rooster. After which once I wasn’t coaching particularly for one thing my food plan would exit the window and I’d eat what I needed.
So what modified?
I met Max [Evans, the Scottish international rugby union player] on Dancing On Ice [Kem finished fourth, one place below Max, in this year’s show], and he taught me a lot about higher diet and how you can be balanced. It’s higher to eat properly more often than not, however nonetheless enable your self the odd deal with at times. It means I’m in good condition on a regular basis – I can keep my abs – with out having to yo-yo food plan, or overeat then go actually strict. It’s a a lot better technique to eat, since you don’t continually crave sure meals, so it’s higher to your physique and your head too. Food regimen is so vital – I want it wasn’t! – however it’s, and in case you are critical about getting shredded then it’s a must to be on high of it, similar to you do with coaching. There are guys in my fitness center who practice twice as a lot as me, however all the time ask me why I’m in good condition, and it’s as a result of I’m on high of my food plan. It doesn’t imply getting lean is straightforward – to get actually shredded coaching must be onerous and your food plan must be a bit onerous too. If it was simple then everybody could be ripped!
Lastly, how are you feeling concerning the future?
Mentally, I’m in the most effective place I’ve been. I had a little bit of a dip throughout my break-up however I’m very fortunate to have wonderful household and buddies, and a unbelievable staff round me. And I’m very fortunate to have some wonderful profession alternatives developing, like internet hosting the Love Island podcast and a brand new present with Chris [Hughes, fellow Love Island 2017 contestant] for ITV2. As with every new job it takes time to adapt and it may be powerful and lonely at instances, and I’ve turned down numerous initiatives to concentrate on what I’m most enthusiastic about and what’s vital to me. I set myself the goal of engaged on 4 issues: psychological well being, health, barbering and TV, and doing what I can to assist individuals who could also be going by way of a few of the points that I had. That’s actually vital to me, and an space the place I actually assume I can do some good.
Charities comparable to MIND, The Samaritans and CALM provide assist for these with psychological well being issues – or you possibly can go to your GP.