She lights up the screen every evening on Home and Away, but actress Jessica Grace Smith hails from the rural town of Dannevirke. We chat to the 26-year-old about how she stays in shape for the beachy drama.
How important is fitness to you?
Fitness is really important. It’s something that’s always been a priority. I’ve always played really competitive hockey, it’s always been a part of my life. I played for the first 11 cricket team at school and the first 11 hockey team.
I still play hockey. Last year I started playing again. I had a few years off before that, but got back into it last year and it was really good.
What are your favourite ways to exercise?
I go running and stuff but that’s mainly to train for playing hockey – you have to be really fit to play well. I play striker so I’m constantly sprinting around the field. I do other bits and pieces, like yoga and pilates at my gym.
But when it’s the winter season I kind of leave it up to hockey. I’m not too concerned with getting to the gym every day or anything like that. I do enjoy it, and every now and then I’ll do a strength training workout too. I have a great trainer who made me this programme that I can use over about three months and then he re-does it. That’s all about building up strength and different muscle groups, and it’s actually a lot to do with injury prevention. So that’s high up there on the list.
So you prefer playing sports to going to the gym?
Yeah, I don’t mind going to the gym too. It’s really nice to do yoga in a class. I like class work. Rather than just going to lift weights or something I definitely prefer a sport where you’ll do an hour and a half of running round and not even notice it.
How do you find time to fit workouts into your Home and Away schedule?
Our schedule is so up and down. Some weeks I’ll do 16 hour days and there’s no way I’m going to the gym before that because it’s not going to make for a great day on set if I’m already getting up at 5am.
But I often find that within our shooting weeks, because there are so many characters, we might have a couple of days that are really huge, but then you’ll have acouple of lighter days as well. So you can get to the gym, you can get out there for a 45 minute run, it really isn’t that hard to fit that in.
With the beach setting of the show, do you feel extra pressure to stay in shape?
I don’t really because I’ve always sort of been the same shape, I’ve never been into doing fad diets or anything like that. Our producer is so amazing, she’s always like, “The way we audition you, that’s what we want you to bring to set. You’re all different and unique”. I just think it’s important to be healthy and be a role model that way, but not get too concerned with it.
How do you maintain a healthy diet while filming?
What I’ve noticed on set is that I have to have a really good breakfast, and not to have too much sugar and stuff like that. But that’s mainly for energy maintenance [reasons].
There’s so much research being done and I’ve learnt so much in the last few years. I guess being an adult and looking after yourself, [you learn] what food makes you feel good, what foods are good to have before you workout so you can do a great job or play really well. So it’s definitely important to me like that, but it’s not important to me in terms of trying to lose weight or trying to restrict what I eat. It’s just about staying really healthy.
You can catch Jessica on Home and Away, weeknights at 5.30pm on TV2.
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