Kelly Hoppen on fitness, wellbeing & finding balance
Interior designer and former Dragons’ Den star, Kelly Hoppen, CBE, talks to Suzanne Baum about why fitness helps her stay calm and focused
As the queen of interior design, Kelly Hoppen is one of the most sought-after designers of her generation and is continuing to be so, well into the fifth decade of her career. One flick through her Instagram account and you’ll notice that even the way her posts are created gives an insight into the woman that stands at the helm of such a successful business empire. Clear, concise, attractive and informative, the 64-year-old oozes warmth, colour and character as we chat in her Hammersmith headquarters.
She offers a plethora of advice to her followers on the art of design, from how to embrace grey, add pops of colour into furnishings and make a bookshelf look sexy, all while stressing why the purpose of good design is about not only how a room looks but how it makes people feel in a space.
And as I sit in her cream office on the comfiest of grey sofas, I feel very much at home in this cool and calm space, despite the fact I am very much aware this is a woman overseeing a million things at the same time.
So, how does she juggle it all? The answer, it seems, is to start the day refreshed, fully energised and with a clear head. And that is where her passion for fitness comes in, as, without exercising before her workday begins, Kelly admits she is ‘a mess’. So it’s no surprise to hear that her home gym is one of the favourite rooms in her house. ‘I call it my oasis as it’s the one place I feel calm and where I embrace the day. My home gym is one of the most important spaces as it helps me feel mentally strong, which is crucial.
‘Fitness for me is not so much about the body but the mind, and so I spend an hour in my gym every morning, without fail, to help me be in the moment, refocus my brain and get powered up for a busy day. Unless I have an early flight to catch, I never miss a gym session. It is diarised and is something for which I always show up.’
Kelly Hoppen on her morning routine
‘I’m an early bird, so when my alarm goes off at 5.40am, and then again at 6am, I’m already awake. I do a small meditation and then have a cup of hot water with lemon and make myself and my partner, John, a coffee; then we watch the news and relax, and at 7am I’m in my gym.’
Working with three different personal trainers, Kelly is particular about giving each of her body parts a thorough work out, one day focusing on upper body strength, the next her legs. ‘The way I train is so different these days. I have realised the importance of strength training, especially as we get older. In the old days there was a lot of focus on cardio workouts, but as someone who always hated running and who has a back injury, I never enjoyed it.’
Resistance training and Pilates have also helped shape her body, with Kelly pointing to the latter as being an important addition to her fitness schedule to help strengthen and elongate her limbs and torso. Trampolining also features regularly in her routine. ‘I absolutely love jumping on the trampoline. It’s not only a lot of fun but also so good for me. Half an hour jumping, followed by an hour’s workout in the gym is for me the best part of getting fit.
‘I have also learned to visualise the muscles I am working on; if I use a visualisation technique, for example really focusing on the bicep I am working, it helps me understand and connect more to my body.’
Kelly admits she has always been a grafter, and is far more focused when she enters the office after having done a workout. ‘If I feel good in my body, it strengthens my mind; I feel better, I walk more confidently and I can bounce through the day with heaps of energy. The minute I enter the studio, my time is no longer my own, which is why I like to utilise “me time” in the gym ahead of arriving at the office.
‘My work is constant and my schedule is huge. If there is a lot going on and I’m stressed, I can release that through my fitness. I always have numerous projects on the go at once but as I’ve started to get older I have realised the importance of not having to catch every ball. I have an excellent team behind me, which enables me to work well, and there are still so many goals I want to achieve. Something really exciting is happening at the moment, which I will launch next year – it’s on my bucket list of dreams and I cannot wait to reveal what it is!’
A change in nutrition
Long gone are the days when Kelly would frequent parties and clubs. Although not teetotal, her alcohol consumption is minimal nowadays. ‘I hardly drink at all, and many of my friends seem to have cut down, too. I may have a drink once in a while but, because my body is not used to it, I never feel great the next day – I get terribly drunk on one drink and feel the effects badly.
And her food has changed, too. ‘I have not eaten gluten for nearly 38 years and I know what my body can tolerate and what is good for me to eat. I normally eat so well, but my body can’t cope with bad foods anymore. At my birthday, I ate cakes and had cocktails and felt rubbish as I think my hangover was from the sugar! Eating bad foods totally wipes me out.’
When it comes to supplements, Kelly has taken the same ones for decades: fish oil and vitamin D. These are vital to Kelly, and she keeps a check on her health with twice-yearly blood tests. She also takes mushroom powder daily, in the form of FlowBrew.
Good skin secrets from Kelly Hoppen
As for her beauty routine, I’m keen to find out more, for at 64 years, Kelly looks decades younger with her tumbling Pre-Raphaelite curls and all-over caramel tan, and has hardly aged since I first met her in her 40s. ‘Although I am not against aesthetics treatments, I prefer the non-invasive kind, including micro-needling to boost my collagen and Morpheus 8 treatments. I also swear by collagen wave therapy, which works by blasting the skin with radio frequency waves and encourages cells to produce collagen, which tightens the surface of your face.’
She also points to her healthy diet and lack of alcohol for keeping her skin looking young. And beauty sleep of course – even if it is only six hours. ‘People think I am out partying with John all the time, but I’m certainly not! My ideal night is to watch a box set and be asleep by 10pm as I am always up early in the morning.’
Growing in confidence
When not working, Kelly has a passion for being outdoors walking, which she shares with John who also loves hiking. And it’s a fairly new addition to her fitness regime. ‘Whatever age you are, going for a walk is hugely beneficial; I just love being outside and surrounded by nature. Hiking gives me such a buzz as we can walk for two hours, and once our breath has acclimatised to the height, we just walk and talk. It feels so good as you get to use a different muscle group to hike and after I have come back down from the mountains, I feel amazing.’
As for growing old gracefully, Kelly feels age is just a number. ‘How you feel is more a mind-set thing for me. The brain is such a complex organ and your mind can take you off at so many tangents, you have to find the balance and come back to centre point. As long as I am physically well and eating good food, everything else settles into place. I think as you age, you grow in confidence, too. I am at a point in my life where I don’t care what people think of me as I’m not out to prove myself to anyone. As long as I feel good, that is enough.’
Kelly uses Technogym equipment in her daily workouts. Find out more about her projects at kellyhoppeninteriors.com
Words: Suzanne Baum Photography: David Venni. Stylist: Angela Radcliffe. Make-up Artist: Kerri Kenner. Fitness Coach: Peter Cobby. Hairdresser: Paul Connolly.