31 December 2015
A meeting with David Gandy? David Gandy’s mobile number? Pictures of David Gandy to illustrate the feature? Cite a Q&A with a certain British model as your current feature and become the most popular person in the office, so I learn.
But – whisper it –when planning this fitness piece, the men in our team were interested too. Gandy, with his piercing blue eyes and chiselled physique has become something of a gym-spiration, credited with giving a more masculine image to men’s fashion: he likes cars, dates a pop star and happens to be a rather savvy businessman to boot, investing in everything from high-end shoe brand David Preston to a nutritional masterstroke that is the new protein-rich, fat- and sugar-free ice-cream brand Wheyhey.
He’s also partnered with M&S for a range of loungewear and basics under its Autograph tag, and it was I who had the pain-staking task of choosing the most appropriate campaign images for the article. In the name of duty...
Gandy agrees to this interview on the basis of his passion for health and fitness. While he admits that he “knows many models who have never seen the inside of a gym”, that’s not him. (In case you hadn’t noticed.)
“Normally, I train three to four times a week, and my training changes so that I’m always shocking the body and the muscles. It always consists of weights and super sets, and sometimes circuits. I’ll go from two weeks of heavier weights and lower reps, to weeks of medium weights and super sets and then when I’m travelling and away for work I do a lot of body weight exercise,” he explains.
“If I’m in training for a certain project or shoot then I will be training at least five times a week and my diet will be a little stricter, increasing my calorie and protein intake to help build muscle and get leaner.” Keeping up?
In person, Gandy is more slender than you’d think, but still strong. “It’s about finding out what works for you and your body type, and the body type you want to achieve. I’ve realised over the years that very heavy weights and low reps make me bulky and aren’t very effective,” he says.
I ask him if the modelling industry puts the same amount of pressure on men to stay in shape, as it allegedly does on women. “There’s never been any pressure on me. The only pressure I have, I put on myself. I trained and played a lot of sport before modelling and I always want to be in shape and healthy. It’s part of my life.”
To that end, he eats healthily too. Dinner chez Gandy is likely to consist of chicken, turkey or fish: He avoids processed meats, white carbohydrates, saturated fat and sugar. “The modelling world, I think, isn’t dissimilar to sport. Like sportsmen and women, our bodies are a tool that have to be in the best shape possible. Like sportsmen who train and watch their diet, that is their dedication and that’s the same for a model who wants to do well.”
After 15 years in the industry, it’s fair to say Gandy is ‘doing well’. In its first Christmas, the David Gandy for Autograph line shifted around 250,000 units from a 22-piece collection. At the launch of the swimwear shorts from the same range, one pair sold every minute – and new styles will be added this year.
He tells me he wants the line to “compete with the best” in terms of quality and design. But while he’s worked with leading photographers and stylists during his career, they’ve not had too much of an influence on him. “I’ve never followed trends and I take inspiration from lots of areas. It’s good to be individual and having the confidence to wear what’s right for your body type is really important.”
His latest project ties back to his interest in health and nutrition. Having met Brunel University graduates Greg Duggan and Damien Kennedy at V Festival in 2013, Gandy became a backer of their all-natural ice-cream brand, which in the last two years has sold more than 2.5 million tubs.
“There’s a real lack of dietary education,” he says. “The importance of protein is high but many people believe that you only eat protein, or whey protein, when you are trying to build muscle."
"People are consuming far too much sugar and salt in their diet and think that healthy eating means being boring with only salads and vegetables on the menu, but that’s not the case. Protein slows the absorption of glucose into the bloodstream, which helps with maintaining a stable blood sugar level that’s essential for weight management.
“Wheyhey ice-cream is a whey protein product that’s ideal whether you’re training, trying to build up muscle mass or simply wanting to get trim and stay in shape. The most brilliant thing though is that it’s still an ice-cream – and let’s face it, who doesn’t really like ice-cream?”
Having whizzed through the David Gandy diet and exercise regime, our talk turns to skincare. His verdict? “Really good men’s grooming brands are few and far between.” But he still opts for a three-step routine twice a day.
“Cleansing the face and using a scrub when you can, or combining the two, then applying a good serum and moisturiser: That’s it – that’s all I think men need to do. But men have thicker skin than women, so women’s products will not always be as effective. Good men’s grooming lines are SK-II or Dr Lancer.”
While his routine might sound intense, Gandy insists it’s the opposite. Exercise helps keep him sane when travelling for work. “It’s shown that you’re less stressed if you train,” he points out. “Apart from that, my passion is cars. I love driving and I race cars too – it will always be escapism for me.”
At the moment, he’s having a Porsche 365 fully restored to its former glory, something that he describes as “wonderful”. Although, his other luxuries are decidedly more simple.
“A luxury to me is having time to take the dog for a walk along the River Thames and catch up with friends and family,” he adds.
Gandy, it seems, is fairly content with his lot. With his lifestyle already geared towards health and fitness, and various new ventures taking shape, resolutions for 2016 are yet to be made. “I always think there are areas of my life I can improve on, but I try and improve these things throughout the year, not just in January,” he quips.
I’ll see you at the gym, David.