Men’s Health UK – The Model Example (June 2012)
He’s the shy boy from Billericay who has cashed in on his looks. But David Gandy is more than just an image. He speaks exclusively to Men’s Health about looking good for a living and shares his tried-and-tested workout tips for building a million pound body.
Photography Leo Cackett / Styling Eric Down / Words Dan Rookwook
A man walks into a greasy spoon in east London and orders a mug of tea and a jacket potato. He takes a seat in a booth by the window. The owner eyes him from behind her counter before announcing to the entire café: “Oh my. You’re so handsome. Look at you! You remind me of my dad.”
The man winces at this ever so slightly, then smiles down into his mug of tea.
“I know you, don’t I?” she continues, crossing the room towards him. “Are you an actor? Or a footballer?”
The man pauses for a moment, then says, “No, I’m a model.”
“Oh, just a model…”
But David Gandy is not just a model. He is the first male supermodel and one of the most photographed men in the world. The image of him on a boat off the Amalfi coast, reclining in a pair of (possibly too) tight white briefs did more than good trade for Donce & Gabbana. The campaign put him on a level with the iconic image of Kate Moss in her equally tight Calvin Klein’s. It hung him on a poster 50ft high in New York’s Times Square. It made him a star.
But David Gandy is from Essex. He’s more comfortable here in a caff with a brew. He is the gangly teenager who, with a bit of luck and no little hard work, became the byword for the modern male aesthetic. But in spite of his success, Gandy tells us, he would rather have been a vet.
Men’s Health received a unique insight into the life of David Gandy – a man who defines what it is to be good looking and is paid handsomely for his efforts. We found out how it feels to be the boy from Billericay who became the world’s first male supermodel. And what he really sees when he looks in the mirror.
You’re an international supermodel. Are still you still an Essex boy at heart?
I was born and bred there, so definitely. But I refuse to watch The Only Way is Essex. These programmes give the place an awful name. My parents live on the Essex-Suffolk border in Constable country. That’s the Essex I know, but not the one people see.
I have a handful. Unfortunately, I can’t say I have many from the fashion industry. I’ve been modeling for 10 years, so that says quite a lot. I have a group of friends from back home and we all stay in contact.
They take the piss but they do it to my face. I hope that behind my back they’re quite proud of what I’ve achieved.
Do you see yourself as “normal”?
No. I’ve never really fitted in anywhere. I’ve always felt a little on the sidelines, like I never fit into one category.
Are you happy with what you’ve achieved or do you want more?
There’s loads of stuff. I’m clever in many respects, but not academically. I wouldn’t be doing this job if I could be a vet. In terms of my looks, I’m very self-critical: I hate my hair, my lips, my nose. And I can’t grow a full beard. People assume I think more of myself that I actually do.
So who do you see in the mirror?
I don’t see what everyone else sees. I see the David Gandy “brand” and how each picture is going to affect it. Cary Grant once said that even he wanted to be “Cary Grant”. And I think that’s it, in a way. There’s this big weight of expectation when people meet me and it can be a bit hard to deal with.
What were you like as a teenager?
My puppy fat stage was as 15 to 16. My body grew out first, instead of up. When you want to start chatting up girls and having sex, it’s not a great time for that to happen.
But you’re not awkward around girls now, though…
I still have a shyness about me. I’m useless at chatting up women. And I have a great looking set of friends who are all absolute charmers, so even when we go out, I’m still in the background. It’s not about looks – it’s about the gift of the gab. You can talk a woman into bed, you really can.
Are you ever lonely, then?
Everything I do professionally is me at the forefront. I’ve been travelling on my own for 10 years, but it doesn’t bother me. I’ve always been like that. I go into my shell with work – I’ve been like that since I was 12.
Are you easy to live with?
My perfectionism can make it difficult. I know my ex-girlfriend [Molly King, the one you fancy in The Saturdays] struggled. Things have to be perfect – everything in the house, every car I buy. That’s incredibly hard to live with if you don’t understand it.
Does your job affect your relationships?
It’s a sacrifice I’ve made for the last decade. If either a relationship or my work must suffer, then I’m afraid it has to be the relationship. I have this need to be in a certain “place”, to have achieved a certain thing. Then when you do get there, the only way you can go is down. That scares, me so I move on to the next thing.
Are you happy alone?
Yes. I can get on with my own life, my own “perfections”, without needing to explain that weirdness to someone else. I’m single now, so I don’t have to worry about it.
What time do you normally get up if you’re not working?
I start getting emails at 7.30, 8am. But sometimes I’ll just grab my laptop and get back into bed with a cup of coffee. I need coffee straight away. The latest I’ll ever be out of bed is about 10am.
Linda Evangelista famously said that she wouldn’t get out of bed for less than $ 10,000 a day. What’s your going rate?
I’m one of the highest earners in the male modeling industry, but the top women still earn so much more. You’re talking Gisele earning $ 13 million last year or something like that. No guy in the industry ever earns that amount. The disparity is absolutely huge. I’m trying to close that gap.
Why do female models earn so much more?
I look at the supermodels and they have a team around them: a publicist, special booking teams, financial advisors. They’re businesswomen. I’ve been criticized for saying this, but on a shoot the hierarchy is the female model, the photographer, the stylist, the make-up artist and then the male model. People have said, “Oh, you don’t like it that women are at the top.” But I respect them for it. I just don’t think the male models should be at the bottom.
Was building the body you’ve got now a way of trying to reverse that inequality?
When I was 17, I suddenly shot up to 6ft 2in and became quite skinny. I hated it and wanted to do something about it. I read things in Men’s Health and the supplements certainly helped. All the younger guys at the agency now ask me, “How do you bulk up?” I don’t think it’s normal to have these skinny guys in adverts that look more like women than men. How can people aspire to that?
When do you train?
I can’t train in the morning.It will always be in the late afternoon or after work at about 9.30pm. That’s when I feel most energetic and can push the most amount of weight or reps. Everyone is different. You have to read your own body to get the most out of it.
What’s your typical training week?
I do three heavy weights sessions: one focusing on my chest, an arms session and a back session. Then on two other days I’ll work out Monday, Tuesday, rest on Wednesday and then train Thursday, Friday and one day on the weekend-depending on how much I’ve had to drink the night before.
How much do you drink?
I love my booze and my job involves a lot of socializing, so I probably drink more than people think. I stay away from beer, but will have a glass of wine a day – I like red wine. If I have anything else It’ll be a double vodka with lots of ice and fresh lime. The cleaner the spirit the better you feel, especially if you want to work out the next day.
And the rest of your diet?
I’m not hugely strict. Mum used to say I hum when I eat and I still do. I’m happiest when I’m eating but I do keep away from processed foods, anything white or in a packet. One thing I always have to hand is a pack of wholewheat wraps. Wherever you are, you can always chuck in a few raw vegetables, some chicken and hummus.
It takes two minutes. I eat raw vegetables like there’s no tomorrow.
How long can you live this kind of life? Do you want to model indefinitely?
Some guys still make a fortune when they’re 45 years old, but I think modeling is a young person’s game. You have to know when your time is up. I wouldn’t mind getting involved more in something else.
Is that why you’re now bringing out a fitness app?
Britain is the most obese country in Europe. We simply can’t seem to read the nutrition facts on the back of food. I’ve learned so much since I started modelling, I just wanted to put it all down. I know some of the best PTs in the business, I’ve gone over what works and what doesn’t. I know how your can get yourself into better shape – and I’m the evidence that it works.
For that reason, a lot of men would say you have it all. Do you?
I’m 32 and more than anything I want to find a girlfriend and have children. I want to be able to say, “I’ve done enough”. Hopefully, one day a girl will come along and I’ll think she’s far superior to my work and let my priorities go. That’s what I’m aiming for.
What type of woman can you imagine that person being?
Until she comes along, I really don’t know. Women don’t throw themselves at me. Not unless they run a greasy spoon, apparently.
David Gandy’s 15 – MINUTE HOME WORKOUT
1 BACK AND TRAPS - FRONT RAISE
Bend at the knees, and keep a slight forward slant with your back.
Hold a pair of dumbbells in front of your thighs (A). Raise them so your upper arms are just above horizontal (B). Hold for a second at the top to “squeeze” your back muscles, then lower.
2 ABS AND CHEST - FROGMAN PRESS-UP
Start in a press-up position (A). As you lower, bring your right knee out and up to touch your elbow (B). Return the leg as you push back up. Alternate legs. Go as low as you can.
3 ABS AND SHOULDERS - AB WHEEL ROLL OUT
Kneel down, feet crossed behind you (A). Roll the barbell out in front of you (B), then roll back. For a challenge, balance on your toes instead of your knees.
4 GLUTES, LEGS SHOULDERS - CLEAN, SQUAT, PRESS
Hold a barbell with a wide grip (A). Stand up and drop under the bar to catch it across your chest (B). Squat (C), return to standing, then press it above your head (D).
5 CHEST AND TRICEPS - CLAP PRESS-UP
Push explosively from your chest muscles and triceps. Do two claps. Gandy can do three with one clap behind his back (but cheats a bit by going up onto his toes).
Related Posts: David Gandy covers Men's Health UK (June 2012) , David Gandy's 15-Minute Home Workout (Men's Health)