Exercise: It’s a Love/Hate thing
As actress Ruth Bradley gears up for ‘lights,camera, and action’ in the US she reveals her fitness secrets to Eoghan Young-Murphy
It strikes you as an unusual holiday for a Hollywood-bound actress. Instead of lounging by the seas in some sunkissed tropical land, with a cocktail in one hand and sunblock in the other, Ruth Bradley walked for 10 hours daily with her father in Spain.
Yet despite the success she has enjoyed during her fledgling career, Bradley — who has starred in Love/Hate, Grabbers, The Clinic and Stardust — has her feet firmly planted on the ground. That is literally, as well as metaphorically.
In early September, along with her father, Bernard, she spent a week walking on the Camino de Santiago, covering over 200k.
“It was just me and my dad and it was great,” says Ruth, who is from Clontarf, Dublin, but has lived in the acting hub of London for several years.
“I loved that because there were no distractions or telly — just walking.
“We had a ball. It was my first time doing it. My dad had done it twice and had a great time.
“And I just thought, when we go away, I will get distracted, but I found it a lovely way to hang out and spend some time in a totally different setting. I just went for that reason.”
Despite such a strenuous week’s activity, Ruth found her hard-earned break enormously fulfilling and was amazed her body was able to withstand the exertion.
“That was a totally different form of exercise actually because I had never done any long-distance walking before.
“We only had a week and we were supposed to have four weeks, but it was about 30k a day.
“We would get up at 6am and get going and then have two hours off and then go on until 6pm — so, all in all, about 10 hours of walking a day.
“And I was amazed that I didn’t have any injuries or anything, like I have had in the past. “It really made me think that we are born to walk, but probably not made as much for heavy weight-lifting as I thought. And I did a bit of that in the past and I really wasn’t able for it.
“I thought I was definitely going to have bad knees or ankles in Spain but, having had none, it makes you realise that we’re not really cheetahs — we are grand to walk for 10 hours a day.
“The Camino is amazing. There was a woman in her late 80s on it.”
But it’s not as though Ruth was unprepared for her hike, which involved trekking over the Pyrénées and coping with sweltering heat. She undertakes some form of exercise almost every day — normally either running or Bikram yoga — and feels it’s vital to stay in shape for her profession.
“It’s important for me to feel healthy because my job can be tiring, and I think, if I am not doing any exercise at all, I know myself I don’t feel good,” she says.
“I have always been doing exercise, mostly running, since I was about 14 or 15, so I know the difference if I am not in shape. Acting can be a physical job.
‘Exercise is good for my head because you can get bogged down in work and, sometimes, it’s good to get out. “It’s kind of meditative almost, just to do a bit of exercise and then some things come to you, like epiphanies, when you’ve had a little bit of space away from your churning thoughts.
“You function better in all areas, in work and everything.”
While her father works in the medical profession, Ruth comes from a real acting household.
Her mother, Charlotte Bradley, is wellknown in the industry: she starred in Fair City and About Adam, a romantic comedy film, and was honoured with an IFTA in 2005 for her role in The Boy & Girl From County Clare.
Her younger sister, Roisín, is tipped for stardom: she is currently featuring as Lara Hogan in the cinema blockbuster What Richard Did.
And finally, her younger brother, Ferdia, is studying for a filmmaking degree at the prestigious Met Film School in London and has ambitions of becoming a director.
“It’s gas,” says Ruth, about how acting courses through the family’s veins. “Obviously, somewhere it just stuck in all of us, because Mam was never a stage mother or anything.
We just came to her and said: ‘We’ll do that.’
“So luckily, she has been supportive and so has Dad really. I don’t think he expected to get a family full of actors and directors, but there you go.”
Ruth — who has starred alongside Ciarán Hinds, Sam Neil, Richard Coyle and Anna Manahan in various productions — admits to being thrilled with the direction her livelihood has taken.
“I am just very lucky that I am getting good parts at the moment and long may it continue, but I will just try to keep it ticking away,” she says.
“I have a retainer deal with ABC in the States, and at the moment, I am doing a film in Wexford called The Sea, which is based on the John Banville book. “So I am down here filming in Wexford. The Sea is a gorgeous book, about loss and grief. I think the film will be out next year.
“I would like to be still down in Wexford doing films when I am 70 — and hopefully, I will be going on the Camino as well.”
Finding time for fitness is hard work but worth it
Ruth Bradley manages to combine a hectic fitness programme with her acting career.
The Dublin girl normally works out six days per week to ensure she’s in prime condition for her starring roles.
“I like to vary it quite a bit, so that it doesn’t get too boring,” she explains.
“I would generally do quite a bit of running and a lot of Bikram yoga, and a bit of light weight-lifting now and then.
“I go running three times a week, normally for about 40 minutes, and try and do the yoga about three times a week.
“Bikram yoga is really hot yoga and is a set 90-minute class. They have the room at a heated temperature.
“You are just kind of stretching and strengthening and then, in the heat, it releases all of the toxins because, obviously, you sweat it out.
“So after that, you just feel amazing; you feel like you have just been reborn.
“If I am away working, like I am now, and there are no Bikram yoga studios, I try and do a bit on my own and I do a bit of Pilates that I have memorised in the hotel rooms. She admits, occasionally, it can be difficult to juggle her two passions.
“It can be hard with filming because you are up at like 5.30am and you don’t really want to be going to the gym,” she says.
“And you finish at about 8pm at night, so it’s hard to motivate yourself to do it. “But I think, if you are working even if you just get 20 minutes, you don’t have to punish yourself or give it as much time as you might if you had a day off.
“A little bit — even 15 minutes — is better than nothing at all, to kick-start it.”
Similarly, Ruth has come to realise the importantce of diet after hitting her midtwenties. “All pretty good and boring really,” she says. “It’s porridge for breakfast probably or cereal; a bit of toast, if I am hungry. I try to eat the most at breakfast because then you’re not as hungry throughout the day.
“If I am going to have potatoes or pasta, I try and have that at lunch. I would try not to snack too much all day.
“At dinner then, I just try and have some protein and salad and a bit of chicken and broccoli and maybe steak.
“I eat chocolate whenever I want really. But I try not to stuff myself — everything in moderation.
“I don’t drink much, just some red wine, but I don’t drink enough to notice it weight-wise.”
This article originally appeared in Fit magazine.