As the TV face of motorsports all over the world, Alexandra Legouix has the most glamorous of jobs. She also has her own critically acclaimed band ‘Alexandra Legouix & the Sunflowers’ and, as a fully qualified yoga instructor with her own yoga DVD, she looks the very picture of health and fitness.
But all is not quite as it seems, as she explains during this fascinatingly honest interview with WatchFit…
Q. Were you sporty and active when you were growing up?
Yes, very! I started horse riding at 4 and got my first pony on my 6th birthday. My mum was a good horse rider so I really pushed hard down that route and competed to a very high level in showjumping. Then as an adult I got more into showing. I still compete now but less so as I just don’t have the time sadly. But I do spend a lot of time with the horses still and animals are a huge part of my life.
I was also into gymnastics and I dance a lot too, first at school and then I went to theatre school so continued and trained as a professional dancer. In fact one of my dance teachers over the years was the amazing Diane ‘Jet’ Youdale from Gladiators who I see is a WatchFit expert!
(Check out Diane here – Diane Youdale)
Q. Your TV presenting work takes you all over the world on a constant basis, it must be hard to stick to any routines when it comes to your fitness, how do you work around this?
You are so right, it’s really hard! I always have great intentions but they inevitably fall to the wayside when I’m physically travelling so often, then it’s race weekends, researching, working, being on camera, not to mention being taken out for three-course dinners or presented with ridiculous buffets. It’s just impossible!
- Alexandra Legouix interviews F1 star Max Verstappen
I go to the gym when I can, I use the surroundings as best I can whether it’s a park or a beach or even a desert. Yoga comes to my rescue more than anything, which I do in my hotel as often as I can. But realistically and truthfully I am often utterly exhausted and recharging batteries rather than expending huge amounts of energy is often the name of the game.
Most days it is a case of being on my feet constantly and racing around the paddock and venue non stop from 8am till 8pm. So although it’s not exercising in a conventional sense, it certainly hammers the calorie count!
Q. Do you follow any nutritional plans?
When I am home I eat well. No specific nutritional plans as such but I tend to steer clear of bread and pasta and I gorge on broccoli, kale and avocado! I absolutely love healthy food and so have no issue with a healthy diet. I don’t tend to eat sugar much so I don’t crave it.
Q. When did yoga enter your life and how important a part of your on-going routine is it?
In terms of exercise, health and wellbeing, yoga has probably been the most significant development in my life.
When I was growing up I had major bones issues. At 8 I had my first prolapsed disc. Finally at 16 after years of considerable pain in my back, I had an operation where they dissolved the disc. By that age I was also struggling with severe ankle pain and after years of investigations they discovered I had an extremely rare benign tumour in both ankles in the subtalus. When the doctor operated on my back another operated on the right ankle.
The pain came back soon after and even as I reached my 30’s I suffered almost daily with either back or ankle pain, or both. That said, I still pushed my body hard as I was absolutely determined not to be defeated. Dance training and theatre school days were sometimes exceptionally hard but a lack of activity actually made things worse so I generally managed to strike a good balance.
At 26 I snapped my ACL skiing and that took a year to heal so the rest of my body struggled a little then but again, I worked hard on my rehab and by 30 I was back in the gym and training to become a Personal Trainer at fitness instructor.
Between 28 and 33 I was full-on teaching Body Pump, Dance, Boxing and had a few PT clients in and around my presenting/music career.
I was doing a pretty good job of managing my physical conditions and injuries, however, in 2014 I had a fall. I was dancing with a friend and we fell over. It really was quite innocuous and anybody else would have been fine. But I broke in a big way.
“I couldn’t move my body and couldn’t feel my legs”.
I was carried to bed while we waited for the ambulance. When they arrived they managed to get me standing and said that I can’t have done anything too bad if I could stand up.
The next day I was in pieces. I couldn’t weight bare at all. I had to be carried everywhere. Agony didn’t even come close to what I felt. I went to A&E and things were obviously very wrong. However, yet again I was sent home. They didn’t even x-ray me. As far as they were concerned, I wasn’t in ‘enough pain’ to have broken anything. I tried to explain that I had spent my entire life in pain and so I was pretty tough by now. That didn’t matter.
Needless to say, I didn’t improve much. I managed to get to a very good chiropractor who eased my pain enough to at least get me standing. The next day I had an emergency MRI scan and the results were unreal.
A broken body
I had broken my spine, severely dislocated my pelvis and had three prolapsed discs that were pressing hard on my spinal cord. It turned out the reason I had broken so badly was because I actually have a degenerative disc disease and facet joint disease. Every disc bar one was crumbled and distorted and had ‘schmorls nodes’ which were eating into my vertebrae. To put it simply, any fall or impact was and is very bad news.
The advice was to stop all gym style fitness immediately and only do more holistic exercise to focus on gently building strength, especially for the back and core.
“And that is when yoga became my life. It’s no exaggeration to say it has both physically and mentally saved it”.
In fact recently I have even been able to start weight training again. I am working extremely hard with a very good osteopath and personal trainer who, between them, are tailoring a training plan for me. I have this once a week and that’s plenty alongside yoga which I aim to do around three times a week.
In Part 2 Alexandra Legouix tells us more about her life, career, fitness and working with IMC Vision on her first yoga DVD.
For further information and to follow:
Website – www.alexandralegouix.com
Twitter – @legouix
Insta – @alkilegouix