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Celebrity trainer secrets: Theresa May’s PT Lee Carnaby reveals how the PM got her fit new look

slider theresa may, celebrity trainer secrets theresa may by healthista

How does Britain’s PM keep fit enough to serve the country? We spoke to her personal trainer Lee Carnaby to find out

When Theresa May isn’t flirting with Article 50 and dropping election bombshells, the Prime Minister can be found (wait for it)… strength training. That’s right, according to her personal trainer Lee Carnaby, the PM is a keen Crossfitter. Whatever your views on the current leader of the country, we’re pretty impressed that she finds the time to squeeze in an hour a week of Crossfitting amongst all those speeches, visits and campaigning.

But according to Carnaby, nobody is exempt from exercise. ‘You can do a workout at home in 20 minutes so there isn’t really an excuse not to do it to be brutally honest – I’ve heard just about every excuse for not working out and none of them stacks up.’

MORE: Celebrity trainer secrets: we trained with Thandie Newton’s PT – see what happened

Carnaby is a personal trainer at Eton Crossfit who launched his career as a personal trainer after spending some time in Australia where his love of all things fitness was born. He hails the power of Crossfit saying, ‘It gets you fit for life… it’s way more intensive than anything else so it can be a bit of a shock to the system but you can see the benefits straight away,’ adding ‘we have had people be sick during the session but it’s pretty rare.’ And while most of us might associate Crossfit with big burly men throwing weights around, Carnaby says the reality is pretty different, ‘A study looked across the board at all members in Crossfit gyms throughout Europe and found that the average crossfitter is a 38-year-old female,’ adding that 60 percent of the members at his gym are women.

So what exactly does Lee Carnaby do with our PM that gets her fit to look after the country? We found out.

Q. What exercises do you get Theresa May doing?

Generally, we would start off with warm-up and mobility. Obviously, Theresa is 60 now so she needs a bit more mobility work in the same way that anyone does who is over the age of 50. That means more detailed stretching – it’s not just static stretching, it’s about trying to get the joints moving properly and correctly. And then generally we’d follow that with a strength section where we’ll do either deadlifts, squats or an overhead press.

theresa may, 8 best ways to be the most powerful version of you on International Women's Day by healthista
PM Theresa May attends a Crossfit class once a week

Q. What kinds of exercises are important for women over the age of 50?

There are two areas that are important for the older crowd. You tend to get tighter across the shoulders and posture starts to be an issue. Posture starts to change and you become more insularly rotated, basically, your shoulders roll inwards. To combat this you need to stretch those muscles in the upper chest and you need to tighten the muscles in the upper back.

There’s no reason why you couldn’t train five times a week in short bursts.

Q. What is your most reliable type of go-to exercise for all round fitness?

Tabata training. This is basically when you’d be working flat out for 40 seconds with a 20-second rest or for 20 seconds with a 10-second rest – you can do that at home, you can do that anywhere. Two sets of that take 20 minutes so it’s very doable for most people.

For this, you could do air squats, which are just body weight squats. They’re great because they work the two biggest muscle groups in the body, the legs and glutes. So you could do 40 seconds of air squats, 20 seconds of rest and do that ten times and that’s an eight-minute workout. But if that’s a bit too samey for you then you can start building up on that, so you can do an alternating Tabata where you do two exercises and do each one four times. You could do an air squat and then a press up and then dependant on your ability level you can press up onto a coffee table (if it’s a strong one) or a chair.

Q. How often should we be working out? 

There’s no reason why you couldn’t train five times a week in short bursts. If you can have a longer session then three is your bare minimum. If you did three longer sessions a week for around 45 minutes to an hour and supplemented that with interval burst of 20 minutes throughout the week then that would be great but not everyone can do that so it’s going to depend on your fitness level. Start on two to three a week and as you start feeling stronger start building up.

Q. What cardio:weights ratio do you advise?

Don’t forget the weight training. Women really need to do weight training, that’s really important for many reasons especially for keeping hold of muscle when you get a little bit older. You can also increase your bone density from weight loaded exercises. Things like deadlifts and squats help to combat osteoporosis. Structurally you get stronger, your posture improves, you don’t get the rounding that naturally happens as you get older and you’ve got a better aerobic capacity as well.

Make sure you do weights first as it’s something you need to be a lot more focused on

People seem to think that by weight lifting they’ll get bulky and of course, it’s a myth. If you want to look like a bodybuilder you have to train like one.

“Fetch me another Client, this one’s broke! “

A post shared by Lee Carnaby (@carnabeast) on

Q. What is the best fat-busting workout?

Metabolic conditioning should be the primary component of an exercise plan geared towards weight loss. If you have an hour to work out and have ten minutes each side for mobility and cooling off and stretching at the end, you’re looking at doing 15 minutes of weight training and then the rest of it should be metabolic training. That means high-intensity circuits. It’s not heavy so it could be kettlebell work or sprint shuttles.

Make sure you do weights first as it’s something you need to be a lot more focused on if you’re going heavy. That way your neuro- muscular system is more keyed in. When you get fatigued it’s a lot harder.

Q. How do you keep May and your other clients motivated?

I do benchmark workouts which I repeat every eight weeks. So I’ll do a set routine and make sure it’s the same under the same conditions so it would be the same weight, the same repetitions, the same duration and you’ll redo it with your client in eight weeks and when they see they’ve smashed it by 50 percent they’re overjoyed and that’s a great motivator.

160kg x 5 – plus Vitamin D! ???? 6 sets in the sun,

A post shared by Lee Carnaby (@carnabeast) on

Q. What is your philosophy when it comes to fitness?

Variety – I think variety is huge for longevity. If you overdo the same exercise over and over again you’re going to get problems with your connective tissue as your cartilage isn’t designed to do the same movement over again hundreds of times. By changing what you do and keeping the intensity high you can still get a great workout without overdoing it.

You need fats in your diet. You don’t need sugar

Also, variety makes you more likely to want to train each week. In my own place, we’ve got a gymnastics session where you spend the whole hour doing gymnastics – I don’t mean backflips but pull ups and press ups are both gymnastic moves.

I also believe in letting your body work as a whole. The problem with using things like weight machines is that they are isolation exercises so you only use certain muscles. A good example is a leg extension. You extend your leg straight and curl it back, you see them in every gym around the country. It’s the least functional thing you can imagine, you would never do that in real life. It’s a completely non-functional movement.

Article by the Telegraph today: Theresa May is more popular with voters than any leader since the late 1970s, a new poll shows as another reveals Jeremy Corbyn is more unpopular than ever. Almost two in every three voters (61 per cent) believe Mrs May would make the most capable Prime Minister compared with about one in four (23 per cent) who said Mr Corbyn. Mrs May’s score of 61 per cent is the highest recorded by the polling company Ipsos Mori since it started asking the question in 1979. Meanwhile, a separate poll conducted by YouGov shows that with just six weeks to go until June 8 Mr Corbyn has a net favourability rating of minus 42 – his all time low. Nearly two thirds of people now have an unfavourable view of the Labour leader compared to just 22 per cent who hold a favourable view. Mr Corbyn has a net negative rating in every demographic group, according to the poll. However, despite Mr Corbyn’s performance he is not bottom of the favourability rankings with Paul Nuttall, the Ukip leader, on minus 43. Mrs May came top of the chart with a favourability rating of plus 10. #theresamay #pm #brexit #downingstreet #generalelection #wednesday #telegraph #paper #corbyn #labour #conservative

A post shared by Theresa May PM ( on

Q. What is the best diet advice you could give? 

Cut out sugar, replace it with foods that have less impact on your insulin. Almost eat like a diabetic. I’d also say to try and eat as well as possible and I don’t mean by having a low-fat diet – butter has been made out to be the enemy and it really isn’t. Saturated fat isn’t as bad as people make out, as long as it’s a reasonable amount it’s not a problem. Butter is much better than margarine for example.

butter, celebrity trainer secrets theresa may by healthista
Carnaby advises eating butter over margarine

You need fats in your diet. You don’t need sugar, you can cope without sugar but your body needs essential fats. There is no such thing as an essential carbohydrate. There is such thing as essential fat and essential protein that you need to survive because your body can’t make it but there’s no such thing as an essential carbohydrate.

I’ve got a thing about pancakes. I love pancakes.

Your life doesn’t depend on you having them because your body can make its own. Your body can make sugar from protein as amazing as it sounds.

Q. Do you ever have a cheat meal?

I’ve got a thing about pancakes. I love pancakes. Proper American style big thick ones with maple syrup and clotted cream – oh yes!

Theresa May with chips on the campaign trail, celebrity trainer secrets by healthista
When you’re crossfitting once a week aged 60, there’s definitely time to stop for chips

I have a cheat meal once a week but it depends on what your goals are. If you’re looking to lose a lot of weight it might not be such a good idea to have a cheat meal because unfortunately, it does make you come off the wagon a little bit sometimes. Especially in the first 6-8 weeks, it’s important to focus on being strict or a cheat meal can become a cheat day which becomes a cheat weekend.

Q. What do most of us get wrong when we aren’t seeing results? 

You’ve got to be consistent – you’ve got to hit three to four workouts every week no matter what. Even if it means you train at home or go running late in the evening when you get in from work, just make yourself do it. If you can do that your chances of success are way, way higher.

Lee Carnaby image, Celebrity trainer secrets by healthista

Lee Carnaby is a personal trainer from Reading specialising in Crossfit. CrossFit was originally developed for the US military and police. The hour-long sessions combine weightlifting, gymnastics and cardiovascular exercises with high-intensity interval training.

Follow Lee on Instagram @Carnabeast

Or contact him via email at

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