The first trailblazing Brit to pose on the cover of Playboy, as well as being the face and body of computer game heroine Lara Croft, Nell McAndrew knows a thing or two about the power of style and image.
These days, having successfully transcended the space between lingerie model and fitness guru, the 38-year-old likes to keep it low-key and sporty. “I usually stick with something that’s simple, but that still makes me feel fantastic,” Nell explains, trying to keep six-year-old Devon occupied in the background. “It’s all about comfort, and fabrics that really work for exercise. I think less these days about my ‘style’, if you want to call it that; for the simple reason that I don’t think I really have one.
“I live in fitness wear because fitness is my life right now, whether I’m training for a marathon, working on a fitness DVD or running round after my family.
“I can’t do any of those things if I’m concerned about what heels I’m wearing or how to accessorise my outfit. I’m not even great with make-up these days – a bit of eyeliner and some lippy and I’m good to go! As long as I’ve got some stylish sportswear, I’m happy.”
It’s refreshing to hear a celebrity who, let’s face it, has grown a career out of fashion, now so at ease with what she wears.
“Naturally, if I am going to make the effort, I’ll wear something a little smarter, but even then I’m mixing and matching. I don’t think there are the hard and fast rules that there used to be. I like nice clean lines and some colour blocking, but that’s usually enough.”
The low maintenance approach is understandable given that Nell is currently juggling long-distance training with work on her new fitness DVD, as well as keeping her son entertained over the school holidays.
“It’s a balancing act,” she laughs, “but it’s no more than any other working mother. And while my son comes before anything else, I enjoy my work and I’m in a good position. The DVD has been an exciting project – 10 years on from our last one, we’re all still going strong. I suppose that proves that exercise really is good for you.”
And the Leeds-born beauty should know, having competed in six London Marathons, running this year’s race in well under three hours; an awesome feat. Nell believes it’s all down to her love for the sport. “Running, it’s the easiest for me; a really good stress relief and it’s the best for my body type. I find nothing else makes more of a difference or makes me feel better.
“I do love my weights for core strength and better posture, flexibility, that sort of thing. My idol, Jane Fonda swears by a combination of running and weights. Why do you think she looks the way she does?! She has worked hard and stayed disciplined and that’s the result. She’s an inspiration and worthy of being followed.”
Nell tackled another challenge herself not so long ago (dressed as a squirrel, no less), in the form of this year’s Royal Parks Half Marathon, which took place in London’s Green Park, St James’ Park, Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park, on October 6.
“There’s such a lovely buzz and a great crowd for this event. It’s not just about the running either; there’s a brilliant food fair, a band playing, and loads of families come along just to make a real day of it.
“What I love most about the event is you get to go through some fantastic Royal Parks. London is very built up, but I think people forget it also features some of the best parks in the country.”
For more information on the Royal Parks Half Marathon, visit www.royalparkshalf.com.