Diane Youdale was a true superstar of UK prime time TV throughout the 90’s. Better know to the country as Jet, she was arguably the most popular member of of the dynamic Gladiators on the show of the same name.

The popularity of the programme can hardly be overstated and it was a phenomenon of its time. Two episodes were filmed each day at the National Indoor Arena in Birmingham which housed 7,000 fans for each filming. Away from the Gladiatorial arena their popularity kept them in constant demand for personal appearances at schools, in gyms, sports clubs, super stores and anywhere else crowds could flock to meet them. There were also many other TV and radio appearances as well as stints treading the theatrical boards in Pantomime.

Diane Youdale was absolutely at the forefront of all this, however there is so much more to this multi-talented lady and it is wonderful that she is part of the WatchFit experts team!

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WatchFit’s Guy Holland is an old friend of hers and asked about the lady behind the TV image of Jet and also found out what she has been up to in recent years.

1)  Millions still remember you fondly as ‘Jet’ from Gladiators. Do you mind that and what was it like to be involved in such a massive show?

I don’t mind that I’m remembered as Jet from such a great and positive show like Gladiators. It was absolutely huge in its day, like X-Factor and Strictly Come Dancing rolled into one! I’m amazed how fondly it is still remembered by so many people

It was a tough show to do, filming twice a day to a capacity National Indoor Arena for six weeks. It was intense, exhausting and there were lots of injuries beneath its fun and glossy surface. But it was an amazing time and I’m so glad I was a part of it.

Diane Youdale interview_2

2)  Unlike many of your fellow Gladiators you didn’t come from a strict sporting or bodybuilding background did you? You had a much more artistic backdrop…

Yes and no. Although I am mainly from a choreographic and dance background and studied at  London Contemporary and London Studio Centre, as well as being in the National Youth Theatre with the likes of Daniel Craig and Liz Hurley, I was a GB squad gymnast from age 9-14. I was junior gymnast champion in the North of England throughout that period training 6 days a week.  It made the Gladiators Arena an easier place to negotiate having been a gymnast!

Dance has always been part of my need to create and I was always choreographing other gymnasts routines and whole ‘works’ in my head from as early as I could remember!  Whenever I heard music, I immediately saw movement. That was the case when I was a youngster and it still is. In fact I am still using my choreographic skills in a couple of fields of my working life and I also still play music on my flute!

3)  Childhood obesity and diabetes is rising alarmingly around the world at the moment. In the 90’s you were in a uniquely elevated position to inspire and influence a generation of youngsters and get them active and fit. Were you aware of that at the time and how does it feel now?

Our position on the biggest show on TV, to be positive and inspiring role models was amazing. To this day people tell me it was the show that inspired them to get active, fit and take up sports and in some cases it really shaped and changed lives.

I’m currently working on Obesity pathways for patients in North Wales so it’s something I’m now very involved with.  There have been degrees of obesity problems within society for many years, but I cannot say I have ever seen as much evidence of it as I see today.

It is very worrying on one level but the fact is there are  some very simple behavioral measures that families (as it takes this support for children) can take for this serious pattern to be amended.

A time bomb for clinical resources will be waiting in the future if families are not encouraged and supported to make changes to their lifestyle and the lifestyle they are laying on their children. Ignorance can no longer be an excuse.

We have more health, fitness , nutrition and lifestyle influences than ever before, all of whom have more information outlets than ever before. It’s not brain surgery it’s quite logical. Increase self-discipline and activity, decrease indulgence and sloth!

Diane Youdale blue bikini

4)  Your super high profile Gladiators days were all over in a split second. Can you tell us what happened?

That’s very true. My wonderful four years of prime time TV, lycra outfits and Pugil Sticks ended in the blink of an an eye and a serious bump back to earth.

During a spectacular game called Pyramid I took a tumble and fell onto my neck and bent my back over quite horribly. There were many injuries, the worst were the spinal ones and I decided it wasn’t worth it.

 I’d never set out for fame and even to this day it’s certainly not something I need but can understand its value if used positively.

5)  You decided to change gear (in every sense!) and take your life down different paths. What did you do following those amazing years in the prime time TV spotlight?

I then did and do something I’d always wanted to do.  As a child I could remember picking up my Dad’s New Scientist magazines and read up on anything to do with humans, evolution and wondered about how we’ve become how and who we are.

Naturally curious about this amazing thing that separated us from other sentient animals – the mind.  Consciousness.  So post-Gladiators I took the first opportunity could to involve myself and train in Psychotherapy.

6)  What projects are you involved in these days and is there anything you can tell us about future plans?

I’m currently building a team of practitioners to deliver remedial, holistic and fitness classes for the Spire Hospital group.  And as mentioned previously I am building in patient pathways in particular Obesity prevention.  I’m still involved in choreography and alongside super visionary and talented Director/Producer Sonia Strong (another of your WatchFit specialists!)

I aid in bringing the physicality/dance to our shows.  Our most recent has been a stunning and successful show on the life of the incredible Tina Turners. I also work with clients from my Manchester office too as a therapist and aim to do research into a couple of areas once I find the time to commit to further study.

There are still a few PA’s from time to time as well as corporate events and even the occasional Gladiators re-assembly for for some fun appearances.

7)  You are clearly very busy, how have you looked after yourself and kept in shape over the years?

I’ll always keep active.  I have always loved dance and training outdoors even before it was the recognized ‘thing’ that it is today! Most pleasurable for me will always be a good intense yomp on a good set of hills somewhere remote and stunning like the Highlands which I’m very passionate about.

Diane Youdale_1

8)  If you were granted just three exercises you could do for the rest of your life, what would they be and why?

My perfect three must have exercises for life is: walking, any form of full bodyweight plank variation and always dance in its many forms.

 As somebody who is very involved with the mind these days as well as the body – do you have any simple motivational tips people can implement easily and benefit from?

Our internal world is what becomes our external so it’s important you learn to listen to how you treat yourself. The sooner you become a good friend to yourself, yet also know when to be able to motivate and focus on the bits we have to get past, the better.

9) Ask yourself, would you treat your best friend, loved family member the way you treat yourself?

For me it’s also to treat others as you expect to be treated. There are some very damaged people who won’t look or amend their ways in blindness or denial. They believe it’s everyone else’s fault.

These individuals aren’t taking responsibility or ownership of their lives causing much fear and pain to others.  Steer clear of them if you sense they’re deaf to your positivity and generosity, or gently encourage them to see a professional to turn around their state. This can be a great thing and the transformations are inspirational if done well with a good psycho-therapeutic practitioner.

Finally, you have the right to a good life!  How you define this is up to you.

Enjoy discovering it and be aware everything is changing. Transience is the one true Universal Law so the sooner you learn to negotiate this the better and it gives you a wonderful sense of life and others!

10) You have been part of the Celebrity Big Brother team for a while working as a studio based Psychotherapist. Any plans of your own to plunge into Reality TV?

I love my Big Brother’s Bit on the Side opportunities. Say what you like about the show (and I know it’s not for everybody) but looking at it with my professional psychotherapy hat on, it is a genuinely fascinating process. And this is something I have tried to convey to the viewers over the last three years that I have been appearing in the studio as a regular Psyche specialist.

This year I was too involved with projects elsewhere in UK and continental Europe to take part. They have been asking me to get involved but I like to watch it thoroughly so I can pick out bits that may not seem so obvious but are pivotal.

If I do get to speed I’ll be back though! I’ve not sat with Rylan yet as he’s taken over from the lovely Emma. But until I am ‘expert’ enough I’d just be offering punditry and I like to add something from the Psyche table well.

I’ve been approached on and off for years for I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here and even being in the Big Brother house as a contestant. I was discussed a year or so ago for Strictly and some of the tabloid newspapers ran with the story.

As for most people it would be a dream come true for me.  However with a choreographic and dance background – albeit not in any ballroom disciplines, they’d never allow it. I am actually a pretty awful dancer in a partner situation so it really would be a great learning experience for me, however I understand why it might not be.

I have presented a number of TV and radio shows over the years and still love the presenting and broadcast aspects of my career. I’m am actually writing a series at present so watch this space!

* Blue & white bikini pictures by John Dietrich @johnnylola  www.johndietrich.co.uk

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