Ryan Libbey on confidence from exercise, and those upcoming nuptials
Former Made In Chelsea star reveals the role Orangetheory Fitness has played in his wellbeing journey
Have you always been built like a Norse God?
The answer is no! I was one of the late bloomers in terms of hitting puberty; developing a beard and muscles pretty late in comparison to my friends. At school, I was always very slight and it was only when I was at university, where I started to play around with weights properly, that I started to build muscle. One of the main reasons I started to tap into weight training was due to a lack of confidence because I was always quite timid. When I went to the gym, I started to slap on this external armour and as that happened, my confidence grew. I developed this presence that I had never known before.
So that changed your life?
Massively. As a PT, I can talk from a position of being able to relate to what you’re going through. It made me appreciate that training is about the mental benefits for so many people. It really does make you feel better about yourself.
I’ve made assumptions…
I’ve had people stereotype me for 10 years, making assumptions based on my image. At university, I was working at Abercrombie & Fitch and as soon as I started that position, I was tarnished as something I’m not: ‘arrogant’, ‘full of himself’. And then Made in Chelsea happened…
So how did you cope with that?
I did the show for almost three years, but the first year I really struggled. I didn’t put my hand up to go on the show. Louise [girlfriend and former MIC star Louise Thompson] and I were caught red-handed [as an item] and the producers said I should be on the show, so I did it. That first year I received so much hate and I really struggled with that.
Now, BALANCE has been to Orangetheory Fitness – that’s booming, isn’t it?
It’s huge in the US, and growing in the UK. My first experience was January this year. They did a soft launch and I went down and fell in love straight away! Because I’m from a PT background I’ve experienced other class workouts and other studios but OTF have something unique which starts when you walk in – it’s not oppressive like some gyms are.
That’s very true!
The staff have a massive part to play in that, also. At some places they’re egotistical but the coaches at OTF are wonderful. Then the workouts – they’ve got something unique around the data they provide. It’s really interesting to train with that. It gives another level of accountability as your data is projected onto the screens in the studio. They want you to be in that Orange Zone. The format of the sessions is scientifically built and systematically tested which goes to show the levels of effort they’re putting in. The focus is on racking up those “splat points”. For every minute you spend in that Orange Zone, you get a splat point. That’s another thing about working in a class, you see other people really going for it so you find another level within yourself.
Now, fan question: when is the big day?
It was supposed to be this December! We had a reservation at Kew Gardens, it was teed up to be something magical and beautiful, but it then ran away from us. It wasn’t a reflection of who we are, so we pulled the plug on that. We boiled it down to what we would like and it’s not what people will expect. Louise is something of a well-known person and there’s some expectation and a certain level of hype around a ‘Louise Thompson’ wedding. But, at the same time, she is not silly with money. She’s thrifty. She’s a businesswoman. I’m not one for being in the centre of the limelight so we want to do something abroad with close family and friends – perhaps a party or a long weekend. I know she likes Ibiza and we’ve looked at a couple of venues, so the plan and hope is for Spring next year!