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Wynne Evans – How exercise has changed his life for the better

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Wynne Evans admits health and fitness were never his highest priorities, but come Christmas morning he’s threatening to hit the gym.

For the Welsh opera singer, TV and radio presenter, and owner of the most listened to larynx in advertising, the gym in question is in his converted garage in Cardiff.

“I’ll definitely be in there Christmas morning,” he says. “A quick half hour on the bike, or a rapid 5k, then I’m done for the day and ready to enjoy myself.

“When Parkrun was on, I used to have what I called a smug Saturday. There's no better feeling than the smug Saturday, when your run is done by 10 o'clock in the morning and you're eating your breakfast. That's the best feeling in the world.”

Life wasn’t always this virtuous for Wynne. He admits it’s taken him until his late forties to put a focus on healthy activity into his regular routine.

Like the Bike

His motivations have been a desire to stop feeling breathless climbing stairs, the search for better fitting clothes, and the motivation provided by his 16-year-old son Taliesin, who has been bitten by the fitness bug even harder than his father.

As for the Radio Wales morning presenter, he has gone from Parkrun enthusiast to trying to fit in four or five weekly sessions in his gym, on the weights, or his new obsession, the Peloton bike where he likes to work up a sweat.

“I’ve never been a fit person and I’ve never been a sporty person,” he says.

“But when we went into lockdown, I decided it would probably be a good time to do something. So, I converted my garage into a gym, got some weights and stuff, and then I started running.”

Having tentatively done the 5k Parkrun in Clapham Common in London, then tried the Cardiff version in Sophia Gardens, he says his confidence and his ambition started to grow.

“My goal during lockdown was to do a Parkrun and actually finish the run before the organisers were packing up.  At first it seemed everyone was clearing off to go home by the time I finished!

Knee Plea

“But I gradually became fitter as lockdown went on and I got my time down from 43 minutes to 31 minutes and 45 seconds.

“For a big guy – I’m still 19 stones, although I was 21 stones when I started lockdown – that’s not too bad. I’m never going to have a shape like Usain Bolt, but I just kept running, ran around the streets, kept doing my workouts and really started to enjoy myself.”

Inevitably, perhaps, something had to give as his body got used to unfamiliar demands. It turned out to be his knees, which meant a rapid reduction on pounding the tarmac quite so often and the introduction of the static bike.

“I love it on the bike. You can really work up a good sweat and you don’t feel as though your knees are just about to ping.”

The only setbacks to the home gym regime so far appear to have been when a stray resistance band whacked him in the face, giving him a black eye and something to talk about to his listeners.

Male opera singers are not genuinely renowned for their trimness, but Wynne believes this has less to do with any real benefits from carrying spare pounds on stage and is far more about the lifestyle.

Mood Lifter

“It helps to have a big chest, a big cavity, to get the resonance in your voice, but we don’t need to be fat. Most are allowed to be fat, which is why they get away with it.

“I haven’t been able to do a concert for months, but I made 16 adverts in lockdown and I noticed the suit wasn’t as snug as it used to be. 

“Singing can be strenuous, but I really don’t know if being fitter is going to help. We’ll have to see. There was no greater opera singer than Pavarotti and he was hardly athletic.

“What being fitter has done is help my mood, undoubtedly. I’ve struggled with mental health in the past, I’ve been very open about that. But when I go to the gym, or run, that’s time for me – and that’s a really good thing to have, is time for yourself.”

He’s not often alone in the gym, though, as Taliesin likes to be on hand – even if it’s to prove he can now lift almost as much as the old man.

“My son has been on this amazing journey. He’s lost about 20 kilos and changed his size. He’s the one who’s inspired me and made me change my fitness and my diet.

Bear Faced Cheek

“He’s done amazingly well and he’s still inspiring me today. I have to try and make sure I can still lift 5 kilos more than him, but his nutrition is better than mine. I still like the odd glass of wine too much.”

For anyone hoping to improve their fitness and get more activity into their life, Wynne has some simple words of advice.

“It’s like taking up singing later in life, it can feel daunting. I’m not sporty in any shape or form, so I know it can feel daunting going into a gym.

“But people should just try being more physically active, walk instead of taking the car, go for strolls, build up to some gentle running, and remember that no-one is laughing at you. 

“I’m a big guy, but when I’m running I’m just trying to better myself and I make no apologies for that.

“The last Parkrun I did, someone overtook me dressed as a teddy bear. I wasn’t embarrassed. I didn’t care.

“I knew I was going to have a smug Saturday.”

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