In an Emmerdaily exclusive, we chat to ex-Emmerdale star Gemma Atkinson aka Carly Hope about the Dales, Strictly Come Dancing, and her new fitness range of clothing.

Emmerdale Exclusive: Gemma Atkinson talks Emmerdale, Strictly and Fitness

To say the past year has been amazing for ex-Emmerdale actress Gemma Atkinson would be an understatement. Departing the Dales in June 2017, there has been no stopping this inspirational woman ever since – so when we got a chance of an exclusive interview with our serious girl crush to talk Emmerdale, Strictly Come Dancing and her approach to fitness, including her own new fitness clothing range – we jumped at it!

It was only a couple of months after Gemma Atkinson left Emmerdale, as Carly Hope drove off into the sunset with ‘Irish Matt’ (he wasn’t around long enough to get a surname), that it was announced that Gemma would be swapping the Dales for dancing as a contestant on BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing.

Emmerdale Exclusive: Gemma Atkinson talks Emmerdale, Strictly and Fitness
Gemma Atkinson and Aljaz Skorjanec dance the Paso Doble on Strictly

The nation embraced Gemma as she not only went from complete novice to finalist but also showed that she’s just a down-to-earth hard working woman with the same issues and ideals as the rest of us.

The glitter ball may have stopped spinning but Gemma hasn’t. The Strictly tour was followed by the announcement of her as part of a new national breakfast radio show, a gorgeous new range of fitness clothing – and she bagged a corka of a new boyfriend too in Strictly pro Gorka Marquez. We talk to Gemma Atkinson about her amazing year…

Congratulations on all your recent successes – Strictly, Hits Radio, the GA range and now a book. Is it important to you to keep your work as varied as possible? Does that help motivate you?
Thank you, it’s always been important to me to make sure any job I take on keeps me both mentally stimulated and motivated to keep doing it as best as I can. I like to mix things up where possible and I’m always open to trying new things where work is concerned. I always like to learn more and improve when I can and you can only do that by trying new things.

What did the Strictly experience teach you about yourself?
Strictly taught me that I’m mentally stronger and a lot more confident then I thought. To be able to learn a routine and perform it to 15 million people each week is something I never thought I’d do. It taught me not to doubt myself or my abilities.

What advice would you give the next batch of Strictly celebs?
My advice would be to just enjoy it and realise it passes so quickly! Even if you’re lucky enough to make the final and do 12 weeks like I did, it still flies by. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself because it’s pointless. You have 1 min 30 seconds on that dance floor each Saturday, make the most of it and have fun!

Emmerdale Exclusive: Gemma Atkinson talks Emmerdale, Strictly and FitnessYou seem much happier in your own skin now than you did when you were doing the glamour shoots during your Hollyoaks years. What changed?
I think I’ve just grown up and I’ve realised the opinion of a person who doesn’t know me isn’t my business. Life’s too short and I’d rather spend it with people who make me happy as apposed to trying to please everyone because you can’t. I think that comes with age, I’m 33 now and I’ve been in this industry for almost 20 years so I’ve had enough practice.

Which comes first for you – healthy mind or healthy body? How do you get the balance of both?
Healthy mind most definitely comes first for me, without that you can’t have a healthy body. You’ll start to resent your training and be doing it for all the wrong reasons. How I look is the last reason for me training, it’s a bonus to feel good in a bikini for sure, but it’s way better to feel happier in yourself all around.

Your instagram workouts with your boyfriend Gorka and trainer Evil Steve seem sometimes painful but great fun. How important is it for you to have a gym buddy or trainer? Does it help with motivation?
Having Gorka and evil Steve makes it a lot more fun to train, and they also push me to do more too. It’s easier to quit or get stuck in a rut when training alone so having someone there is always a help for me.

What advice would you give to someone looking to start any sort of fitness regime?
Just be realistic in that it won’t happen over night. I don’t believe in fad diets or quick fixes. I think you have to make lifestyle changes and stick to them allowing yourself the occasional slip up. I go with 80% what my body needs and 20% what I want. You have to be committed and stick to the new changes, there’s no point keep quitting. It’s easier to make the changes then it is to look in the mirror and hate what you see.

Emmerdale Exclusive: Gemma Atkinson talks Emmerdale, Strictly and FitnessWhat inspired the GA range of leisure clothing? How important is it to look as good as you feel while working out?
I wanted people to be able to feel their best in the gym. It’s hard for woman as a lot of the time they feel out of place in a gym anyway (which is silly!) I’ve done hoodies for those who want to cover up until they feel strong, crop tops for those who want them and high waisted leggings for those who want that extra support (me included!), they are my favourite.

The fact the GA range is not only practical but stylish and available in a good range of sizes is a genius move as joggers and a baggy t-shirt is usually all that is on offer – did you decide to offer the larger sizes to encourage more fuller figured women to work out?
I went with larger sizes because I feel everyone has the right to be in the gym bettering themselves. Regardless of age, shape and size we all deserve to be the best version of ourselves

You’ve not ruled out a return to Emmerdale at some point – what would you like to see Carly Hope do next?
I’d love to return to the dales at some point, at the moment I’m too busy but I’d love for Carly to return and make it up to Marlon Dingle (Mark Charnock) and April, although I think it’d take some doing after what she put them through.

Since Carly’s been gone, her dad Bob Hope (Tony Audenshaw) has returned to his womanising ways and has dumped Brenda for Laurel Thomas (Charlotte Bellamy). How do you think Carly would react?
I think Carly would be frustrated with her dad but not at all surprised. She’s used to him putting woman before her! She would also be branding him a hypocrite as he’s done exactly what he told Carly not to do!

Would you like to see some of Carly’s siblings return?
I’d love Carly’s brother to return just because he was played by Alex Carter who also played my brother in Hollyoaks so it’d be great to work with him again, he’s a great guy and a fab actor too!

Spending the past two years researching and developing the affordable range of clothing, Gemma has unveiled a stunning range featuring key pieces in fantastic colour schemes for every fitness occasion.

Emmerdale Exclusive: Gemma Atkinson talks Emmerdale, Strictly and FitnessNowadays, Gemma regularly does Thai boxing, weight training and HIIT to keep fit. Like many a modern woman, fitness is about mixing things up and keeping your body moving and your mind active.

GA by Gemma Atkinson has a piece for every occasion with design and quality being the epitome of each item. It also includes cute gym bags and accessories with a cute simple logo.

“All seams are fully flat locked for comfort and to prevent chaffing,” Gemma explains. “Designs are fashion focused with the colour schemes, odour-resistant and breathable and feature a high elastane content to give great flexibility and shape retention too.

“Leggings are super supportive and flattering in all the right places. No transparency issues, opaque finish and super soft. Proven to wash/wear repeatedly with excellent recovery.”

The GA By Gemma Atkinson is available exclusively at www.gemmaatkinson.co.uk with the entire range is priced between £20 – £55. For more information visit the website or follow @gabygemmaatkinson on Instagram.