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Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill – On Maintaining Fitness, Balance And Pre-Bed Meditation

Dame Jessica Ennis Hill interview scaled

One of Britain’s most celebrated athletes, Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill now mostly runs around after her two kids, rather than around an athletics track – but that doesn’t mean she’s slowed down.

The 34-year-old famously returned to the heptathlon to win gold at the Beijing World Championships in 2015, just 15 months after giving birth to her first child, her son Reggie, now five. Since then, she’s hung up her track spikes and had a second child, daughter Olivia, now two, with husband Andy, who she married back in 2013.

She’s also launched a fitness app, Jennis, which features short, indoor workouts aimed mainly at pregnant and postnatal women, as well as anyone who just want to improve their fitness with quick at-home workouts.

We caught up with Ennis-Hill to chat wellbeing, fitness and combating stress…

What’s your favourite way to chill out after a long day?

“Literally just cook a meal and watch Netflix with my husband, something gritty on there.”

What’s your fitness routine now you’ve retired from athletics?

“I try and do two circuit sessions a week. I’ll do one on a Monday with my husband, then I’ll fit one in later in the week, and I’ll walk the dog and try and do a hill run session when my daughter is at nursery and Reggie’s at school. So I’d say I exercise three times a week, and I’ll fit in an ab circuit as and when I can.

“For me, it’s about exercising conveniently. It’s body works and high-intensity like burpees, which work your cardiovascular system but also strengthen your muscles and get you really fit.

“If I did go down to the track, with the hurdles, I might think, ‘Shall I just have a go?’ But gosh, I’d probably tear my hamstring or something!”

How do you cope with stress?

“Exercise! If I’ve had one of those days, which I had the other day and at the end of it you’re just so tired – just doing a circuit, you feel so much better. Because you can get all your adrenaline and aggression out while exercising, and then you feel much better after.”

What’s guaranteed to make you instantly happy?

“My kids, just seeing them.”

Describe your ideal Saturday morning

“The weeks are so busy rushing around everywhere, so on Saturdays, for me it’s just nice to have a lazy morning and a late brunch with the kids. Then take the dog out to the woods and go on a little adventure, something outdoorsy in the afternoon so [the kids] feel like they’ve burned off some energy!”

What’s your favourite healthy meal to make?

“I quite like making a sweet potato dahl, with a bit of spinach in there. That’s nice when the weather is bad.”

How many hours do you sleep a night?

“I probably sleep about eight hours.”

Do you meditate?

“I used to. I did yoga for a while leading up to the Olympics, and we always did meditation after, which I loved. I was like, ‘Let’s skip the yoga and just do that’. Then I didn’t have time to do it, but recently I’ve started doing a bit before bed and I think it’s so good for you.

“It actually gives you time to completely stop thinking about everything you’ve got to do in life – I think that’s really important.”

Coffee or herbal tea?


Can you touch your toes?

[Laughs] “Yeah.”

Have you ever tried any weird diets?

“No, I’m not for faddy things and diets. I love food, I like having a glass of wine, so I allow myself to do that by exercising, and just keeping active and being balanced in life.”

What’s your guilty pleasure?

“I’ve got a massive sweet tooth, so anything chocolatey, desserts, cheesecake…”

Any health and fitness goals for 2020?

“To continue keeping fit. I think it’s so hard to get to that fitness level, and if you just maintain, it’s so much easier than trying to get there. So for 2020, I just want to maintain good fitness and enjoy exercising.”

Jess Ennis-Hill competing at the Rio Olympics
Competing at the Rio 2016 Olympics (Martin Rickett/PA)

Jessica Ennis-Hill’s fitness app Jennis Fitness ( is available to download on iOS and Android for £9.99 per month.