For Jamie Redknapp, mixing a bit of fun and friendship with keeping fit was a great way to help maintain fitness during the pandemic.
The soccer pundit, who played for England and a host of big name clubs including Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur, teamed up with mates including the former England, Chelsea and Manchester City player Wayne Bridge for a few HIIT (high intensity interval training) workouts during the pandemic.
“There’s about 20 of us in a WhatsApp group and we do some cooking and we also do some training,” explains Redknapp.
“Wayne’s a super-fit guy, so he’d do a training HIIT session for us, and we’d all join in. It was brilliant because we all pushed each other for 35-40 minutes.
“We did that for the first lockdown and Wayne got bored of it, so I’ve ended up doing my own stuff, and just trying to keep as fit as possible.”
Redknapp, 47, uses various methods to maintain his fitness, including a static bike and boxing, admitting he needs to exercise not just for his physical fitness but also for his mental health.
“I’m the sort of person that needs to do something for my brain, otherwise I find it so difficult – I don’t enjoy my food as much, I feel like I need to train. Not every day, but just to do some kind of exercise.
“I’ve got a Peloton bike which I really enjoyed at the start of lockdown, but then it became so competitive, with everyone putting up their numbers. I’m so competitive, it used to do my head in a bit.
“During lockdown, unless you had a trainer, fitness was tough. But I love boxing and doing stuff on the pads, and I’ve got the Peloton bike – I try to keep fit in as many ways as possible.
“Unfortunately I’ve got a bad knee, so I can’t go out for long runs, which is a shame. But I go for walks and things like that, just to get some fresh air.
With summer round the corner, it’s going to be a lot easier for people to get out and hopefully, as the restrictions ease, people can start to enjoy their lives again and get that balance back of freedom that we all need.”
As well as preventing him from going running, Redknapp’s bad knee from his playing days means he can no longer play football as much as he’d like either.
But it doesn’t stop him having a kick around occasionally, and he recently enjoyed playing with kids at a McDonald’s Fun Football Session, which offers free fun football coaching to children aged five to 10 at centres throughout the UK.
“I can kick a ball about, but not to the extent I’d like to,” he says. “Every now and again I’ll play a little five-a-side with my mates, but very rarely because I’ve had countless operations on my knee.
But I’m addicted to football – it’s my passion, so if there’s a ball that gets put out anywhere, I’ll have a kickabout with the kids. I do miss it.”
But it’s not like the sport is ever far away from Redknapp’s day-to-day life, even if he’s not playing it himself.
He’s got two sons with his ex-wife, the singer Louise, and while his eldest, Charley, 16, prefers rugby,
Redknapp’s youngest son Beau, aged 12, plays for the Chelsea FC Academy. And of course Redknapp’s work as a pundit for Sky Sports means he’s been able to watch plenty of live football matches, even during lockdown.
“With football playing such a big part of life for people, going to games to work I feel incredibly fortunate, when a lot of people have been stuck at home not being able to go to the football. Work has kept me so busy and I’m so thankful for that.”
And being so busy – he’s also a team captain on the Sky panel game show A League of Their Own – means Redknapp, son of football manager Harry Redknapp, and cousin of the former Chelsea player and manager Frank Lampard, hasn’t had time to gobble too much unhealthy junk food either.
“I’m pretty health conscious actually,” he says. “Some of my mates that played might be different, but it’s just the way I am, I like to eat healthy.
Don’t get me wrong, I love a bottle of red wine, and I enjoy tequila, but I try to be careful with what I eat. I love fast food like a lot of people, but I think everything in moderation is always the key.
“You’ve got to enjoy your life – life’s for living. If you fancy some food and you think it’s not that good for you, the next day you go and do a bit of exercise and you feel better for it.
That’s the key to life I think – you can’t just stop yourself doing things. If you want to have a beer or a drink every now and again, if you do things in moderation, that’s always the best way.
“I always feel better the next day if I’ve had a few drinks or eaten something, if I train it off. That’s always just been the way I am.”
Find your local McDonald’s Fun Football Centre at mcdonalds.co.uk/funfootball.