Noel Clarke: “I'm Not One Of Those Chicken Leg Guys"

Noel Clarke
(Image credit: Unknown)

What’s your most impressive personal best?

I used to be an athlete and a gym instructor – I was working in a sports centre at 18 and I didn’t stop training people until I was like 26, when I got into acting and had to quit. I used to run mini marathons and was a good sprinter – I was doing 100m in 11 seconds when I was 16, which was pretty good back then. I probably could have gone into athletics, but I hate running now, I just find it so monotonous and boring.

Have you ever pulled a muscle in less-than-heroic circumstances?

Yes, massively. Years ago I was showing off dancing and I tried to do that move there where you hold your foot with your hand and jump your other foot through it, then you go into the splits. I tore my hamstring – I heard it go, it just went snap. I got up and was still grooving away, but I could feel it burning and was like “I’m just going to the toilet, man.” I went in there and screamed…

Which excuse for not going to the gym/working out are you most ashamed of?

I wouldn’t say I’m ashamed of any excuses, but I’d say the most common excuse is being absolutely knackered from having three kids. Once you’ve got through the whole rigmarole of getting them all ready for bed, you have like five minutes to yourself before it’s midnight. I’m the kind of person who has so much to do during the day, that there’s no way on God’s green earth that I’d take time out of it to go to the gym. So it usually means I’m up at six to go and work out.

Have you ever secretly impressed yourself with a feat of strength?

Probably more endurance than strength: doing 20 seconds on, 10 seconds off, eight-minute interval training and getting to the end of that. The first time I did that I thought I was going to die, but then you keep doing it to the point where you’re on the maximum speed the treadmill can go and you feel like you’re just jogging, you’re breezing it. I was impressed by that.

What’s the most extreme thing you’ve done in the name of good health or fitness?

A few years ago when I was getting out of shape, I did one of those eight-week body transformation challenges, but I did it for four weeks because that’s all the time I had. The results were decent, so I was happy. I mostly maintained it until I put on about two stone for a film, and I’m still trying to get rid of that.

Is there a piece of gym equipment you can’t live without?

I love a good bench press and am on that quite a bit, although not any more than I should be. Working the old pecs, keeping them in shape. If I’ve got a workout to do, I pick chest over anything.

What is your guilty pleasure?

I love a pizza, I love a burger and I love ice cream, particularly peanut butter flavour, so those things work against my fitness the most, I think. Recently though, I’ve been dairy and gluten free so I try not to partake in those as much any more. I think I’m quite healthy anyway, so I didn’t really feel any different after cutting them out, but I lost about a stone and a half, and my jawline came back which was helpful.

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What’s the longest you have gone without alcohol in the name of good health?

I don’t drink. It’s not a religious thing or an anti-drink thing – if I go out occasionally, I’ll have a bit of red wine or port, or at Christmas I’ll have champagne, but generally on a regular day-to-day, weekly, monthly thing, I don’t drink.

Do you use any fitness apps?

No, just my alarm to get up and head to the gym. I wouldn’t know which app to get. I used to have a personal trainer but because I used to be a trainer myself, I still remember quite a few things so I just go with myself. I think for my age I’m in decent shape – I can still see my abs. There’s probably a bit of fat there but on the whole I’m in pretty good shape.

What do you think about “leg day”?

I’m fine with leg day. I’ve got good calves and good thighs, they’re all in proportion, and I’ve got a really big arse, so I’m alright with it. I get all my deadlifts and my leg presses in – I’m not one of those chicken leg guys who wants to turn the lights off before he takes his shorts off. I’m well happy to walk around naked, it doesn’t bother me.

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Former staff writer

Gary Ogden wrote for the print edition of Coach between 2015 and 2016, writing features, interviewing celebrities and covering entertainment. He has also written for ShortList.