The Sunday Times: Katie Glass: want to lose weight and cure heartbreak? Start weightlifting

Fed up with binge-eating and gaining weight, Katie Glass reluctantly signed up for a 12-week boot camp where you train with a group. Could she stay the course?

How did I get so fat? Where do you want to begin? The comfort eating? The yo-yo diets? The operation last year that trapped me in bed for two months? After which, comatose on morphine and watching The Sopranos, I felt my last muscle wasting to fat. Then, recently, I broke up with my boyfriend and started a new relationship with Häagen-Dazs. Whatever my excuse, here I am: overweight in my thirties and in need of a fix.

I have done diets before. Boy, have I done diets. I’ve done more of them than Bruce Forsyth did tap-dance routines. I have tried boot camps, paleo, keto, LighterLife, vegetarianism, Slimfast (and fags). I’ve flown to the Mayr clinic in Switzerland and spent a week living on Epsom salts and colonics. I hope this fitness journey might involve a luxury resort where I can spa myself thin. Unfortunately, my editor has other ideas.

Evolve Fitness is a strip-lit basement gym in London’s financial district. It is an area buzzing with City boys who aspire to look like Brad Pitt in Fight Club. Evolve specialises in 12-week muscle-building body transformations. In three months, they can (possibly) get me ripped.


Image: James Cannon

Evolve’s gym has one treadmill, one rower and one bike. The rest of it bangs with men pumping iron and making sex noises. The course I’m enrolled on, Evolve’s Warrior Tribe programme, promises “one of the toughest experiences of your life”. “Can you eat, sleep and train like a warrior?” the blurb in their brochure asks. I find myself answering out loud: “No.” Absolutely worst of all, it is a group programme. If there is one thing I hate more than working out, it’s doing it with other people.

At the first session, I meet my group. I’m one of 10 “warriors”: Chris, Alex, Tim, Rob, Hasnain, Minjoo, Emma, Javier and Jojo. Most of them work in the City and already look suspiciously fit. Our trainer, Lee, who looks like Kit Harington on steroids, gives us a name: the Spartans. We are put on a fancy machine that hums lift music while scanning your body to measure weight, muscle density and fat percentage. I am too ashamed to tell you the results. Lee takes my “before” pictures and I cannot look. Then we are issued with our diet for the first two weeks: there will be no booze, no carbs — and therefore no potatoes, pasta, bread or grains — and no sugar, including fruit. We will eat only lean protein (chicken, turkey, tuna), occasional fatty protein (steak, salmon, nuts) and leafy greens. Anything that adds taste, such as mustard, is verboten. Rob asks what he can put on a stir-fry and Lee suggests “air”. Days will consist not of breakfast, lunch and dinner but meals one to five. Meal one might be two steaks and eggs. Meal three, a protein shake. “Food is fuel,” says Lee, who is the anti-Nigella. “Not everything has to taste good.”

Our first week involves three hour-long sessions, each taken by a different expert beefcake. Workouts revolve around a weightlifting programme that comprises compound exercises that work multiple muscle groups — such as squats and deadlifts, which simultaneously work the glutes, quads and core — and exercises that focus on specific muscles, such as triceps dips, or walking lunges for hamstrings.

Everyone in my group is fitter than me and worryingly enthusiastic. Emma, Javier, Rob and Jojo have done the programme before (which feels like cheating). Minjoo runs triathlons. Still, during the first session I keep up through a series of push-ups, sit-ups, biceps curls and squats. After, I am sweating profusely, but full of energy and feeling smug. This is going to be easy!

My entire body hurts. My arms are agony, my legs torture. My ass, in particular, is killing me, presumably because I’ve never moved it before. My stomach twinges in a place where my abs must live.


Feature Image: James Cannon

The Sunday Times: The Magazine interview: pianist James Rhodes on his childhood sexual abuse and why he’ll always speak out about mental health

If you have read James Rhodes’s memoir Instrumental, you will not have forgotten it. If you have not, do so now. I cannot write anything about Rhodes more affecting than he has written himself.

Instrumental is his harrowing account of the horrendous sexual abuse he suffered for years as a child, at the hands of a PE teacher at his north London prep school. The book never shies away from discussing the graphic physical and mental fallout: the serious spinal injury it left Rhodes with, requiring three bouts of surgery; his depression, OCD, self-harm, alcoholism, breakdown, drug addiction and suicide attempt in a psychiatric hospital. It is a book filled with anger, sadness and torment, yet also, wonderfully, it is the story of how Rhodes transcended trauma through a profound love of classical music.

Shortly after Rhodes’s ordeal began, aged six, he heard Bach’s Chaconne for solo violin in D minor and was transported: “It was like magic. It suddenly made sense of things.” Later, this passion led him to carve out a career as a concert pianist, despite having no formal academic musical education. The first classical pianist to be signed by Warner, his unpretentious style has seen him called the “Jamie Oliver of the grand piano”. Alongside six albums, he also produced a campaigning Channel 4 series, Don’t Stop the Music, addressing the importance of music education in schools.

Instrumental sold more than 150,000 copies and found Rhodes legions of fans (75,100 on Twitter). After his first wife tried to get the book banned, it also landed him a £2m court case that cost him his second marriage and almost his sanity. His new book, Fire on All Sides, chronicles his mental state since. The title, a stage direction from Don Giovanni, describes Rhodes’s feelings about life most of the time. That it is “hot and dangerous and my world is either about to melt or collapse”. Yet rather than let those thoughts consume him, the book explores his struggle to change, ricocheting between optimism and crippling self-doubt. At times, Fire can feel self-indulgent — not to mention foul-mouthed. (It opens with Rhodes saying if he met Bach, “I don’t know if I’d punch him or blow him”.) Yet it’s also a brilliant, jangling opus to Rhodes’s frantic mind, his writing more powerful because men are rarely so emotionally candid.

Given the turmoil of Rhodes’s internal life, he seems surprisingly chipper in the flesh, springing along the street to the Ivy Cafe, ordering a hearty shepherd’s pie. His hair is wiry and wild, as if he’s been electrocuted, which suits his frenetic personality. He’s fun company: in scruffy jeans, a grey hoodie and a coat, when the photographer asks him to unbutton it, he quips: “Aren’t you at least going to buy me a drink?” But as we eat, I realise he’s checking himself out in a mirror over my shoulder — he is a self-confessed narcissist.

He appears to have a wonderful life — shuttling between London’s Maida Vale and Madrid: “f****** paradise”. He’s dating a beautiful Argentinian actress, Micaela Breque, who is “gentle, calm, kind” and, at 28, 14 years younger than him. (Like all complicated men, women throw themselves at him. He gets through two wives and two girlfriends over the course of the books.) She’s a fan he met via Instagram a few months ago. He’s shortly off to Argentina to meet her parents.


The Sunday Times: The Interview: the rapper Professor Green on his marriage to Millie Mackintosh and Britain’s problem with class

You wouldn’t want to meet Stephen Manderson in a dark alley: a looming 6ft 2in of stubble, covered in tattoos that stamp his knuckles and climb his neck.

On one side of his face runs an angry, jagged red scar, the relic of a knife attack. His accent, like his image, was hardened on the streets of east London in an area of Clapton known as “murder mile”, where his teenage parents left him to be raised by his grandmother: six of them in a three-bedroom council flat. It’s an upbringing that gave him the street swagger to forge a rap career where, as Professor Green, he has become one of the most successful voices in British pop, drawing inevitable comparisons with America’s most famous white rapper, Eminem.

Green erupted onto the scene in 2010 with a catchy INXS-sampling single, then a duet with Lily Allen and a profusion of awards. Three albums later, he’s built a hardcore base of fans (and some 2m Twitter followers) through his music, and more recently his BBC documentaries exploring society and subjects including his father’s death, dangerous dogs and the legalisation of cannabis. If some are surprised by this pivot from rapper to documentary maker, he shrugs — “It’s all social commentary.”

His tough image belies a fragile, sentimental soul — one of those tattoos displays the name of his great-grandmother, Edie. On Instagram, he posts about scented candles between pictures of him cuddling his girlfriend, the model Fae Williams. “I’m not nasty, I’m not rude or abrasive, I like to be quite gentle,” he grins, when I tell him I’d be scared to meet him at night. “Humans have a really bad habit of just joining the dots.”

Green’s aura was softened, too, when he made a profound documentary discussing his father’s suicide, when he was 43 and Green just 24. “I didn’t know if I wanted people to see me that vulnerable. Everyone said, ‘That must have been so cathartic.’ It f****** wasn’t. It was just painful.” His other BBC programmes revealed his skill for drawing out other people’s vulnerabilities. Now he’s back, exploring the prejudice and lack of social mobility facing working-class white men, this time for Channel 4. “When you talk about what you know, that’s when you have a voice of authority, innit,” he says. That “innit” is important: the way Green speaks, like the way he looks, are all relevant to the classism we’ve met to discuss.

This was the year people from backgrounds like his were supposed to be given a voice; now Green’s voice seems to be one of the few cutting through. Theresa May had promised, in her maiden speech as prime minister, to “help anybody, whatever your background, to go as far as your talents will take you”. Those ambitions lie in tatters, following Alan Milburn’s resignation earlier this month as chairman of the Social Mobility Commission. Milburn quit because he said the government lacked “the necessary bandwidth” to ensure their “rhetoric of healing social division is matched with the reality”. This rift seemed, in part, to fuel the Brexit vote: 70% of people who live in council houses and 78% of those with no formal qualifications voted to leave Europe, according to a study by the social research institute NatCen.

Green is perfectly positioned to comment on class and social mobility, finding himself in that rare territory usually inhabited by footballers. He has earned enough to mingle with the rich kids — he was married to the Made in Chelsea star and Quality Street heiress Millie Mackintosh — but remains an outsider among the Establishment. When I suggest he’s now middle-class, he baulks: “I can’t be!” He still has the “same anxieties and insecurities” as all working-class boys. He can reel off examples of the classism he’s faced, such as the dinner party when someone went around shaking hands, then got to him and threw him a “Safe” and a fist-bump. “I said, ‘Would you bark at a dog?’ ” He’s had the Pretty Woman treatment in upmarket shops, where “people do look at you as if you’re going to steal something when you walk in wearing a tracksuit”.

In the documentary, Green follows six boys. Among them are a Del Boy entrepreneurial type, an ex-convict dad, a builder turned model and a maths genius — the son of a manicurist — dreaming of Cambridge. Green knows the struggles they face. Classism, he says, “is still acceptable. You couldn’t use a racist or homophobic slur on the front page of any newspaper in this county, but you will see ‘chav’.”

He’s equally critical of the fetishisation of working-class people. “You walk through Shoreditch and it’s, like, how much money can we spend to look poor? It’s crazy. It does my nut in.” He’s angry about the widening class gap in the area where he grew up — Clapton is now full of hipster coffee shops — and he feels it all the more because of his own new-found wealth, which is estimated at £3m. “It’s just exclusion,” he says. “I go to the shop every morning and pay £3.50 for a flat white, but there’s a lot of people in the area who can’t afford to do that.” He knows what it’s like to grow up on a council estate staring at an unreachable City lifestyle. “It’s like having your face pushed up against a window — it’s a dangling carrot, it’s the life you’re never going to have.”

He observes that when such areas improve, it’s often at the expense of locals, who “seem to get moved on and moved out. Things get privatised and you don’t have guaranteed rent . Then it becomes social cleansing.”

His view of the class divide is perhaps more acute having been married to Mackintosh for almost three years. While Green was becoming a weed dealer in east London, she grew up in a £1.4m Bath townhouse and attended Millfield, a £12,000-a-term boarding school. Their relationship gave him a searing insight into class, “in the same way it would if you married someone from a different county, because you learn about their culture, their ways, their history”.

Is it that extreme?

“Yes, because things that are normal to them are completely foreign,” he says. “I’ve been in places and felt a bit like a novelty. Meeting certain people’s family members and almost having to prove myself.”

When he lived with Mackintosh in Chelsea, Green says he had “nothing in common with anyone apart from the old eccentrics, who I loved — you know, passing me their spliff outside the pub. And parents who’d actually worked for their lot.”



The Sunday Times: Katie Glass: with no family, I’ve learnt to embrace my festive freedom

The festive season used to conjure painful memories for Katie Glass. Now she enjoys not having anyone to answer to.

When I was younger, Christmas was agony. I was a teenager when my family fell apart: within a year, my mum and stepdad separated, I moved out of the family home and my relationship with them disintegrated. A few years later, my father died. During that time I found anything family-related difficult. And Christmas was unbearable.

For most of the year I got by without family. On birthdays I made my own fun with friends, I bought my own eggs at Easter and avoided Mother’s Day. But December — when Christmas descended, the shops shut and my diaspora of friends scattered home — always felt like the cruellest month. The festive season, after all, is about family. Everything, from the mince pies in Tesco to children’s toys in shop windows and adverts featuring happy families scrabbling for their favourite Quality Street, was a sad reminder of what I had lost. Some years I went to the family homes of friends, others were spent with extended family, and I always had fun. Not having my close family around meant I built relationships with other people, which I was grateful for. But there was always a moment — when they were arguing over their gran’s plum pudding recipe or snuggling up to watch EastEnders — when I’d have to sneak off with something in my eye and the feeling of missing my mum.

I thought I was doomed to hate it for ever. But, over time, my attitude changed. It helped that for years I worked in hospitality. I’d volunteer to do as many shifts as I could and spend December 25 frantically ferrying roasts, then getting drunk with the chefs. There’s nothing like serving squabbling families to put your situation into perspective. But mostly, among the ragtag crew drawn to catering, I didn’t feel like such a misfit. I found friends with their own reasons for not going home. Among journalists that also turned out to be true. And gradually, instead of hating it, I began to embrace my freedom. Now some of my favourite Christmases are the ones I’ve spent with friends.

There are advantages to a family-free festive season. The biggest relief is you can be yourself. You don’t need to worry about how much you drink or revealing your true thoughts about Brexit. You don’t need to mind your Ps and Qs, as I was reminded when I spent last year with my ex’s parents and got told off for “swearing like a sailor” by his mum.


The Sunday Times: County lines — a new form of modern-day slavery

Inner-city gangs are trafficking children to sell drugs in towns and villages across Britain — a practice known as “county lines”. Why are their victims being criminalised?

I used to worry about his education and what he’d want to be when he grew up. Now I worry he could end up dead.” Sarah looks down at her hands clasped tight on her lap and starts to cry. “I don’t know what it’s like to have a son pass away, but that’s how it feels — that sense of loss.”

Theirs had been a “calm, loving family”. Sarah and her son, James, had always been close. Her family doted on him. “Spoilt rotten,” Sarah says, remembering how “every weekend, without fail, we’d get together as a family for dinner and he’d be doing a little performance”. They had a good life in London. Sarah worked in the City. Sometimes James would join her at her office, playing on the spare computer, legs swinging under the desk. They took holidays at their second home in Spain and did things together every weekend. But when James started secondary school, things changed dramatically.

Well-mannered, bright and popular, it was in sports that James shone. He represented the school in rugby, basketball and football. In hindsight, Sarah wonders if her first warning should have been how out-of-character it was when, one week, James refused to go to practice. He just didn’t feel up to it, he told his mother, who reassured his coaches he would be back next week. Then he refused to go again. “Initially, I thought maybe he was doing too much, with training in the week and matches on weekends. I thought perhaps he needed a break.”

Then James started coming home late. “Really late for a 14-year-old — 8pm, 9pm, then, on a few occasions, after midnight,” says Sarah. He’d make excuses — claim practice had overrun, or he had been with mates. “He was getting older and I assumed it was the usual teenage stuff of wanting to hang out with friends. I got upset with him, but that only seemed to escalate the situation.” James started disappearing overnight, then for weeks at a time, returning dirty, dishevelled and anxious. He refused to say where he’d been. His mother tried “everything”. She grounded him, confiscated his mobile, questioned him: where was he going? Who was he with?

“Nothing worked — he would go out anyway,” says Sarah, explaining that, by then, James’s behaviour had drastically changed. “He would spit in my face and call me names. It’s so hard to expect anyone to imagine it. What I didn’t know then was that normal parental boundaries wouldn’t work, because he was under duress.”

One day when James was 15 he jumped out of a window at their home and disappeared for three months. Frantic, Sarah searched his bedroom, finding a train ticket to Norfolk. Not long afterwards, she heard that James had been spotted at a mainline station. Sarah reported her son missing to the police, but it would be months before she learnt the truth.

James had become a victim of an alarming and underreported form of modern-day slavery affecting British teenagers. Police and local authorities call it “county lines”. It involves young people being recruited by inner-city gangs, put in cars or on trains, and trafficked hundreds of miles away from their home to seaside towns and small villages. Once there, they are given a mobile phone through which to sell drugs, usually crack and heroin. By running these telephone lines in different counties, city gangs have expanded their operations outside the saturated markets into new territories.


Image: GETTY

The Sunday Times: Katie Glass Reviews Olaplex, A Repair Treatment For Hair

This week’s beauty guinea pig, Katie Glass, gives her bleached hair some love with an in-salon hair treatment.

The USP Olaplex is the first treatment that is said to repair broken bonds in your hair. This means if, like me, you have blonde ambitions, you can keep bleaching your Cinderella locks without looking like a scarecrow.

How does it work? Currently my hair is a sorry combination of grown-out balayage and sunburnt ends, with enough frizz to rival that time Monica looked like she’d had a perm in Friends. Still, wildly optimistic, I hope using Olaplex means I can force my hair through another round of colouring without it breaking off in my hands.

Poor Barry, the senior technician at Radio Salon in east London, looked desperately at my crispy split ends and warned me not to expect immediate results. Olaplex isn’t a quick fix. Unlike normal conditioning treatments, which smooth hair superficially, it works from the inside out, building bonds to add strength. Barry calls Kim Kardashian Olaplex’s unofficial ambassador, because it’s how she keeps her hair in such great condition, while subjecting it to constant colouring.

What does it feel like? In the salon, Olaplex is a two-step treatment. If you are planning to add LA beach-blonde balayage to dark brown hair, brace yourself for five hours in the chair. First, the treatment is mixed into the bleach, then added to the highlight foils. The second round of Olaplex is applied all over, then washed out. There’s a version for home use that involves a less faffy application, but has fewer active ingredients.



The Sunday Times: Doga: bend, stretch and . . . do stop sniffing the others

Doga — yoga with your dog — is the latest thing in exercise. Katie Glass and four-legged friend join a class in search of inner peace, with added yapping, licking and nibbling.

If ever, during the honeymoon period of a romance, you and your partner are tempted to buy a dog — a soft, velvety black, wet-nosed puppy that you name after a character from your favourite TV show — here’s some advice: don’t. The double-doodle I bought with my ex-boyfriend is now 20 months old and the product of a broken home.

Poor Stringerbelle — a mix of goldendoodle and Labradoodle — has found herself the subject of a custody battle and a bitter doggie divorce. After months of arguing, I reluctantly rolled over and let my ex keep her, accepting occasional visits.

Like most divorced parents, I spoil my baby when I see her. I worry she blames herself for the break-up and I compensate by overfeeding her Bonios. Combined with my own post-break-up Häagen-Dazs habit, our weights are threatening to spiral out of control.

And so it is that, looking for healthier ways for us to bond, I stumble across doga — dog yoga — which, among hipsters and the cast of Made in Chelsea, is a thing. A doga class looks just the ticket, somewhere Stringerbelle can find inner peace while Mummy works on her revenge bod.

Don’t expect your pooch to be doing the downward dog, though. As Mahny Djahanguiri, the founder of one doga studio, DogaMahny, has explained: “I’m not stretching dogs out. It’s a human yoga class and your dog is off-lead.” It’s about relaxing and nurturing a relationship with your hound.

Some doga classes involve using your furry friend as a yoga block; others require you to lift them up. Since, like her mother, Stringerbelle is pretty but not petite (she weighs more than three stone), I decide against the latter and opt instead for a doga-lite class — a human hatha yoga session embracing canine consciousness.

We are told to arrive early for a meet-and-greet with the other dogs and humans before class, and turn up at a bright warehouse with wall-to-ceiling windows, green with plants and sweet with wafting incense. We have not even stepped into this peaceful Zen paradise before the barking begins.

Rover (whose name has been changed to protect his reputation), the resident dog, takes immediate exception to Stringerbelle. What ensues is a headache of yapping and nipping. In the mayhem, it’s impossible to say who the culprit is, but someone has sprayed on a yoga mat.

Eventually we find a space as far away from Rover as the studio allows. This happens to be near the shrine, where Stringerbelle immediately starts licking the candles. I give her my socks to chew to distract her, then settle down barefoot and try to relax. “Try to focus on your breathing,” the teacher advises, over Rover’s barking.