Images Glen Burrows. Grooming Laura Tucker

This cowl star of August’s Males’s Health has had fairly a 12 months. He went from slicing hair in a back-street barber’s to recognition on each road nook after successful Love Island, 2017’s hit and Bafta-winning ITV2 actuality present. Greater than 2.5 million folks watched him and Amber Davies go away the present’s Mallorcan villa as king and queen of the final word vacation romance.

However whereas viewers voted in droves for his cheeky and cheerful outlook on life, they didn’t realise that Kem hadn’t all the time been the life and soul of the get together. Certainly, he spent his early teenagers locked away in his bed room unable to depart the home for college or work due to crippling nervousness introduced on by virtually shedding his mum. Discovering the gymnasium helped him flip his life round, and now Kem is set to make use of his fame and large social media affect to assist different folks battling psychological sickness to get again on their ft too.

It’s been fairly a 12 months for you Kem – has all of it sunk in but?

It’s been an absolute whirlwind. This time final 12 months I used to be a barber in just a little again road making an attempt to dwell a standard life. I had probably the most regular job of the all of the individuals who have been on the present; a number of of them had movie star pals and knew how the trade labored. However I used to be so naïve and I feel that’s why I did OK on the present – I didn’t over-think something, I didn’t have a recreation plan, I simply wished to be myself and ended up actually having fun with it, particularly after a few weeks in.

How did you regulate if you got here again into the true world?

After we left the villa I had wonderful assist and I really feel so lucky that I nonetheless do. Everybody has been so supportive and I feel that’s as a result of with me, what you see is what you get. I’m an open e-book.

Was it powerful coming again to a very totally different life?

Yeah. Everybody sees the glitz and glamour, however it may be powerful and lonely at occasions. Like if you get up within the morning by your self and see or learn one thing about you on social media or one of many papers. That may be arduous. I went by means of a break-up [with Amber] and that’s powerful when it’s in public, however folks have been very supportive, even once I wasn’t anticipating it.

Do you know what you have been entering into if you utilized for Love Island?

I actually wished to do it, however my dad and mom didn’t need me to as a result of once I utilized I had solely simply bought again onto my ft after 4 of 5 years of despair and nervousness. I utilized pondering I had no probability of getting on: 80,000 folks tried out, however I simply saved getting by means of spherical after spherical of interviews after which I used to be informed I used to be going into the villa. My mum was in floods of tears and actually didn’t need me to do it, as a result of my dad and mom thought exposing myself to criticism and nasty feedback would ship me again to sq. one. I bear in mind once I informed my mum I used to be going to do the present, and she or he simply stated, “However I’ve solely simply bought my son again”. The earlier years had been arduous, so it was a threat.

When did your battle with nervousness start?

It began once I was 9 and my mum went in for a routine operation but it surely went unsuitable. We have been informed she had 24 hours to dwell. I simply went into shock and didn’t actually know what was happening. Thankfully she recovered, but it surely took a very long time for her to get higher, and I grew to become extremely protecting of her. I didn’t like strangers speaking to her, and I couldn’t fall asleep until I knew she was residence and protected. So I by no means slept at mates’ homes and all the time wished to be close to her. However issues bought actually dangerous once I was a bit older, round 15. I suffered my first correct panic assault, though I didn’t know what was occurring on the time. I used to be on a prepare to London, and simply had a meltdown. It went downhill shortly from there and I began to battle at college. I nonetheless performed soccer, which I beloved, however bought injured so I ended enjoying. I managed to get a number of GCSEs, however for a couple of 12 months after my exams I barely left the home, simply staying in my room, anxious and depressed.

Did you realise how severe it was?

I satisfied myself that I used to be advantageous, and all the things was advantageous, and I’d all the time discover an excuse to not exit. However in my head I drew up a listing of issues that may by no means occur to me, like happening a date with a woman, not to mention truly ever getting a girlfriend. And since I’d stopped enjoying soccer and going out I placed on fairly a little bit of weight. I noticed one therapist but it surely didn’t assist, however then I met one other one. On our first session I bought actually anxious and wished to depart, however she bought up and locked the door! She stated she wished me to show to myself that I may keep and full the session – and I did. That was actually one of many large turning factors, as a result of she made me consider that I may take small steps in the proper course – like one thing so fundamental as going to a restaurant, which everybody loves doing, however for a very long time I couldn’t even ponder.

When did you uncover train as a means to deal with what was happening?

My brother has all the time been into his weights, and once I began I shortly discovered that coaching, whether or not that was weights or operating, actually helped me deal with my nervousness. Each time I began to really feel just a little anxious I’d placed on my headphones and go for a run or go raise the weights, and I instantly felt significantly better. It helps me push stuff out of my head. I’m an enormous over-thinker, which I’m making an attempt to channel right into a optimistic factor, however train is one of the best ways for me to get stress out of my system. I really like pushing myself and feeling my physique actually working arduous, and once I’m within the zone I don’t suppose or care about anything. And I don’t thoughts a little bit of ache – it means I’m working arduous in the direction of to being fitter or stronger or leaner.

What’s your coaching method?

I’ve all the time skilled on my own and whereas I’m no skilled, I’ve discovered what works greatest for me. I’ll raise weights 5 or 6 occasions per week, specializing in one physique half per session. I like specializing in only one muscle group, and hitting it as arduous as attainable. This doesn’t imply I raise heavy – I preserve the load lighter however do high-rep units and give attention to protecting every rep excellent and getting my respiratory proper. Protecting the load a bit lighter and the reps gradual and managed, with numerous reps per set and quick rests between units, is a good way to actually harm the goal muscle and really feel that burn and get a pump. It’s what actually works for me.  

Do you do a lot cardio?

I performed a lot soccer once I was youthful so I nonetheless love cardio and can do a run or incline treadmill stroll after most weights classes, or perhaps thrice per week if I’m tight for time. My dad is 66 and he nonetheless runs on a regular basis – and he’s respectable at it! He says that he can’t chill out till he’s bought his run in, and I’m the identical. We prepare not only for our our bodies however for our heads. I do know what it’s prefer to really feel like shit on a regular basis, and I’m not going to let anybody or something make me really feel like that once more. If I’m taking care of my physique, then I’m taking care of my head too, and meaning I can preserve shifting forwards in the proper course.

Vitamin is a big a part of trying good in addition to feeling good. What’s your weight-reduction plan like?

Up till three months in the past my weight-reduction plan was very up and down. I really like bread, and carbs, and all the things, actually! I’d weight-reduction plan arduous and minimize out all carbs and different meals, and would generally find yourself simply skipping meals as a result of I couldn’t face one other plate of simply hen. After which once I wasn’t coaching particularly for one thing my weight-reduction plan would exit the window and I’d eat what I wished.

So what modified?

I met Max [Evans, the Scottish international rugby union player] on Dancing On Ice [Kem finished fourth, one place below Max, in this year’s show], and he taught me a lot about higher vitamin and the way to be balanced. It’s higher to eat properly more often than not, however nonetheless permit your self the odd deal with at times. It means I’m in fine condition on a regular basis – I can keep my abs – with out having to yo-yo weight-reduction plan, or overeat then go actually strict. It’s a significantly better approach to eat, since you don’t consistently crave sure meals, so it’s higher on your physique and your head too. Food regimen is so essential – I want it wasn’t! – however it’s, and in case you are severe about getting shredded then it’s a must to be on prime of it, similar to you do with coaching. There are guys in my gymnasium who prepare twice as a lot as me, however all the time ask me why I’m in fine condition, and it’s as a result of I’m on prime of my weight-reduction plan. It doesn’t imply getting lean is straightforward – to get actually shredded coaching needs to be arduous and your weight-reduction plan needs to be a bit arduous too. If it was straightforward then everybody could be ripped!

Lastly, how are you feeling in regards to the future?

Mentally, I’m in the very best place I’ve been. I had a little bit of a dip throughout my break-up however I’m very fortunate to have wonderful household and pals, and a improbable workforce round me. And I’m very fortunate to have some wonderful profession alternatives arising, like internet hosting the Love Island podcast and a brand new present with Chris [Hughes, fellow Love Island 2017 contestant] for ITV2. As with every new job it takes time to adapt and it may be powerful and lonely at occasions, and I’ve turned down quite a lot of tasks to give attention to what I’m most keen about and what’s essential to me. I set myself the goal of engaged on 4 issues: psychological well being, health, barbering and TV, and doing what I can to assist individuals who could also be going by means of a number of the points that I had. That’s actually essential to me, and an space the place I actually suppose I can do some good.

Charities equivalent to MIND, The Samaritans and CALM provide assist for these with psychological well being issues – or you’ll be able to go to your GP.