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Dance helps lift my spirit, it balances my physical and mental health... Pussycat Doll Ashley Roberts tells LAUREN TAYLOR why moving her body to music, Zoom workouts and cold showers are helping get her through lockdown.

IF THERE'S one consolation to lockdown, it's that celebrities are doing it too. One fifth of The Pussycat Dolls, West End star and Heart Radio presenter Ashley Roberts, like many people, lives alone, so she understands the challenges many of us are facing right now.

"It's a moment-to-moment thing really - I have my good moments and I have my low moments," she says, "we're all human, and this is a very interesting time to exist in the world. I try and use the tools I have to stay afloat - but I'm snacking like everybody else!" The 38-year-old is reaching out to friends and loved ones all the time (she's far from her hometown of Phoenix, Arizona, having lived in the UK for seven years) including video chats with the rest of the Pussycat Dolls.

Ashley with Giovanni they split "We did a Zoom call the other day, it was really fun - everyone's staying healthy. We check in with each other and make sure we're all doing alright," she says.

The group had to reschedule their UK and Ireland tour this spring: "We're bummed about that, but we've got to do what's right for the health and safety of the planet."

As well as yoga stretching, writing a gratitude journal before bed (she's taking an online psychology course) and meditating ("Sometimes my mind wanders off but I try to give it the effort"), one wellbeing routine Ashley swears by is daily icy showers.

She says she has been inspired by Wim Hof's methods - a Dutch 'extreme athlete' known as The Iceman, who promotes cold therapy and breath work.

"I've been having cold showers every day. There's some really interesting science behind cold therapy; helping with your mood, sleep, weight, ageing of skin," she says. "I'm a heat girl, I'm from the desert, so I don't know about cold stuff, but I'm telling you, you feel rejuvenated! I've worked my way up; when I first started it was 45 seconds, but I'm up to two minutes now. I feel great afterwards."

The 2018 Strictly Come Dancing finalist (she lost out to Stacey Dooley and Kevin Clifton) was dating professional dancer Giovanni Pernice but they announced their split in January this year. "Being a single lady now, I'm like, 'Alright hunny, what are we gonna do here with your time?' I'm actually enjoying it."

dancer Pernice - this year " Cooking is one hobby she's embraced as a result of the coronavirus crisis: "I've used my kitchen more than I ever have in my entire life. I called my mum the other day and she was like, 'I don't even know who you are!' "That's one amazing thing that's come out of this lockdown for me - cooking different recipes. I've been cooking stuff from my friend Dr Ranj's cookbook, I've been making homemade cocktails - mojitos with Bacardi rum and fresh lime - I've been baking.

"So I'm actually really grateful for that, because I didn't have a big passion, nor did I have the confidence to do it and now I have the time. Some of my dishes haven't tasted too bad - maybe one day I'll be able to share them!" she says with a laugh.

The Pussycat Dolls are known for their full-on dance choreography on stage, and dance is unsurprisingly a huge part of Ashley's everyday fitness regime. "I find dance really helps lift my spirit, my physical wellbeing and my mental health," she says (Ashley recently partnered with Move Your Frame and Bacardi to offer a live dance class on her Instagram).

"The great benefit of dancing is that your heart rate is going up and down, you're burning some calories, toning the body, working your legs, you're working your core, your arms are moving - so it really is a full body workout, but you don't even necessarily know because you're enjoying it.

"It also helps anyone mood-wise who may need a little boost, especially with what's going on at the moment. If I feel a bit bumpy, I put on a good tune and even if I don't dance seriously, just shake my body and move it around, endorphins are going and I feel better."

Right now she's trying to exercise every day. "It keeps my mental health in a state of balance, I feel more connected to my body," she says. "I train with [celebrity PT] Dalton Wong a couple of times a week on Zoom, I do different workouts online, I go out and run in the park or do a circuit. At the moment it's more body weight stuff, I have resistance bands or I take a skipping rope with me for some cardio.

"I miss my spin classes and my hot yoga classes - we will eventually, over time, be able to go back and enjoy those luxuries in life. But where we're at at the moment, I just try to adapt as well as I can and come up with ways to keep being stimulated and physically active at home.

"I'm getting close to 40 and I feel more connected to my body than I ever have.

"I think there's a sexiness in the awareness of who we are as women in this present day, I think that comes with age - I mean, have you seen J-Lo at 50?!" | To find out how to make homemade Bacardi cocktails like Ashley, visit Bacardi.com/rumcocktails.

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Ashley with dancer Giovanni Pernice - they split this year

Ashley Roberts, above, and on stage with the Pussycat Dolls, below
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Publication:Huddersfield Daily Examiner (Huddersfield, England)
Date:May 6, 2020
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