The real Sporty Spice. Photo: Fitness First
She's one fifth of the world's most famous girl band, a mother of three and a TV regular (here, Stateside and Down Under) so naturally we jumped at the chance to have a good old gossip with Spice Girl Mel B last week - and discovered that there's really nothing Scary about her whatsoever...
It wasn't quite your average interview, however. It was decidedly fitness focused. And so it was that we found ourselves in our (awful, unflattering) gym kit, in a studio, lunging, squatting and jumping about with one of our pre-teen heriones.
Why? Because, other day jobs aside, Mel is the face (and body) of Fitness First, and currently championing not only her own Mel B workout class, but International Fitness Week: seven days in which the gym chain opens its doors and welcomes in workout-novices for freebie classes, inductions and healthy-living lessons.
The entire experience only served to prove quite how unfit/unhealthy/uncoordinated we are, but enough about us, here's what Mel had to say when we had a pre-workout chat:
So come on, tell us honestly, how often do you exercise?
I wouldn't say I did a lot of exercise, but I try and work out every other day. I've got quite a busy lifestyle, but I like being fit and healthy – I've got three kids, and I worked hard to lose my baby weight, but I think it's an important part of your weekly routine. It just makes you feel better!
Before [with the Spice Girls], I used to be on tour all the time, and our stage performances were so full on, running up and down the stage from one side to the other – I led a very active lifestyle. Then I had my second baby and just thought "oh my God, I need to lose weight right away," so I got myself to a gym and signed up and started working out properly.
Do you have any particular problem areas which you need to tackle in the gym?
Every woman has problem areas, whether they be thighs, butt, stomach, we all want to feel a little bit fitter and a little bit tighter – I like to do an all over body workout.
Any favourite exercises or classes which you like to do?
I never used to like running, but I've got really into that recently: walking and then running so you do a little bit of a cross-training thing to allow your heart rate to go up and down, that way you end up burning a little bit more fat. Then also I'm experimenting more with weights and different classes and talking walks – I like to switch it up a bit so that it doesn't get too boring.
As for classes, I love zumba - and obviously I like my own class! Just anything where you can have a giggle and turn up the music really loud.
Are you particularly strict with your healthy eating alongside regular exercise?
To shift most of my baby weight I combined working out with the Jenny Craig diet which really worked for me. But now I just try and eat as healthily as possible. I eat every three to four hours, and I eat a lot of chicken, vegetables, salads – I just try and fill my body with lots of good stuff. But once a week I have what I call my 'Sod It Sundays' where I eat whatever I want. You do have to be realistic about it as well, I think. If you deny yourself everything then you just end up wanting to binge eat, which is not good!
It's all about looking after yourself: I mean, what girl doesn't want to feel good and look their best?
So healthy lifestyle aside, any beauty tips?
Always wash your makeup off! In terms of makeup I use a lot of MAC which I find doesn't irritate the skin too much. But really I just try and stay fit and healthy without going to extremes.
Tell us about your involvement with Fitness First. How did that come about?
Well this is my third year working with Fitness First. I originally started working out about five years ago after I had my second baby – because I'd never really set foot in a gym before, and I just realised how much easier it is to work out in a gym, with knowledge.
So I teamed together with Fitness First and we decided to do an International Fitness Week – where they fling their doors open free of charge for a whole week to educate people. And it's all for free. So you can actually gain the tools and the knowledge to make your life better and more healthy – and that's how it all started really, and this is our third year.
Can people try out the Mel B workout class this week?
If you stop by during International Fitness Week you can do anything you want here! They give you your nutrition plan and facts, and help you with a healthy eating plan. They can show you around all the equipment they have here, they have specific days so you can go in and learn whatever you think will work best for you. And then you can take as many free classes as you want!
So lets just talk about what else you've got going on this year: more X Factor?
Yes, I'm doing X Factor Australia for the second series and hosting Dancing with the Stars also. And I've got a lot of really happening stuff over there It's just so positive, there's no negativity, no trash talk – I love it.
How did X Factor come about?
Simon Cowell approached me and said that he really wanted me to go over to Australia and do it, and I was really hesitant at first – because it's a million miles away from everywhere! But I went and I took my kids there, and we really just embraced the lifestyle. The people are just so nice. The energy is just so lovely. So then I got offered it again for the second series, and I had a discussion with my husband and we just thought, well why not just have our whole family just move there? So we did. We moved there in January, and we absolutely love it.
Did Simon give you any advice? Any words of wisdom?
Simon just said, "Go. Be you," and that was it. And asked, "Which one? Which version of me?!" So he laughed and replied: "All of them! Be as crazy as you want."
I don't think you can get much better than X Factor or Dancing with the Stars to be honest, no matter where it is around the world.
What about the Spice Girls musical, any news there?
I've actually got a meeting about the Spice Girls musical tomorrow, so hopefully that's all moving along nicely. That should be out at some point this year, we're very excited about that. Can't wait!
Fitness First's International Fitness week runs from Monday 19th March to Sunday 25th March 2012. To download your free seven-day guest pass and discover your nearest gym, visit internationalfitnessweek.com.