This is genuinely the most terrifying thing I’ve ever done and that includes I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here. When I did the first season of that show, I had no idea what I was doing. I was flown to Africa and my phone was taken off me. In my mind that has always been the scariest thing I’ve experienced. This has topped it.
At first I didn’t realise I had weight to lose. I just.always assumed that I was sweet in that department. I also held weight in places that people didn’t realise. I held a bit in my face and I was also holding it around my stomach and no one had any idea.
I turned 30 during lockdown and spent five months inside in Melbourne eating junk. I knew I wasn’t the healthiest person in the world. And I thought, ‘What a fun, great challenge’.
To begin with, it was the whole, ‘Can I even do this? What am I doing?’ I already have terrible anxiety. I get anxious over everything. I own a weighted blanket. I’m one of those people who needs to be under a weighted blanket for an hour, once a day. I’m definitely going to have anxiety about this issue coming out.
I was a state swimmer in high school and then I gave up competing because I didn’t want to go shirtless. I went to an all-boys school and I stopped participating in school swimming carnivals because the thought of taking my shirt off, even in grade nine in front of other boys, was terrifying. I was the last boy to grow armpit hair. I was very self-conscious about that. I stopped going to PE classes because I was embarrassed about my body. In all-boys schools, it’s that very blokey environment, like in school camp where you’re expected to play shirts versus skins tag, I would just not compete. Mum would write me a letter so I wouldn’t have to go on school camp.
[My parents met] on the set of Star Wars and they were both in Hi-de-Hi!, the UK sit-com. My mum did quite a bit of modelling. My dad was also a successful model, so he did a lot of shirtless stuff. It was always in the back of my mind that my dad was a rugby-playing, Star Wars Rebel Alliance member, not to mention the Solo man in the 1980s commercials. So, there’s a little bit of pressure there, but he’s never not made me feel fine about who I am.
I’m still very body conscious. Every day now on Twitter, I get someone making a comment about me: “He’s got a huge forehead” or “He looks like a paperclip wearing skin”. I’ve had all those sorts of comments before, so I’ve just always stayed covered up.
In the gay male community, there are some really unhealthy body stereotypes. It’s as though we’ve all got to be these ripped, butch guys with a six-pack to be welcome at some clubs. I remember three months out from Mardi Gras, a guy I followed on Instagram had a picture of a donut with a cross through it saying “shredding for Mardi Gras”. This was three months prior. I was like, ‘Oh my God, that’s perpetuating such a terrible, terrible stereotype of our community’. It was before Christmas. What’s the point in living if you can’t enjoy a donut
Mardi Gras is about celebrating the community and I’m not saying you shouldn’t have a six-pack at Mardi Gras. In fact, go for it. I love seeing all the six-packs at Mardi Gras, but you don’t need that to be welcome. Everyone’s welcome. And that’s kind of the point of our community. Sometimes that message gets a bit blurred. That’s what has always made me a little nervous. Sometimes you feel the pressure like, ‘Oh my God, everyone’s got their shirt off on the dance floor. I might go home. Call it a night’.
My partner, Jack, is a professional model and he’s a little bit younger than me. So, we have the same diet but he’s also a personal trainer. He’s not gotten involved in any of my personal training, because that would be weird, but I thought I could just eat the same as he does. But we live very different lives. I’m not as active as him, I don’t go to the gym as much as him and I’m not his age. We invested in stable tables during lockdown and we were eating bowls of pasta with garlic bread. We’d share a margarita and two big slabs of tiramisu. That would be dinner one night. We also were doing Uber Eats twice a day. So, I just didn’t notice how disgusting my diet had become and wondered why I felt so lethargic all the time.
When it comes to training, I need someone to yell at me. I’m one of those people. Otherwise I’ll just sit in the gym, scrolling Instagram, scrolling Twitter.
I trained with Jono Castano in Sydney and Waz [Warren Pattulock] in Melbourne. I was going to Rise classes and swimming in both Sydney and Melbourne. I also jog as an excuse to listen to music and pretend I’m on stage at Madison Square Garden.
I’d started training with Waz in Melbourne during lockdown. At first it was just a lot of sessions in the park with bands and then he had to start bringing weights. And then I moved up here to Sydney and that’s when things kicked into another gear with Jono.
The first time I walked into his gym [Acero], I was absolutely terrified because I had seen pictures on Instagram. I had heard it was the gym to go to in Sydney.
The first thing I did on my way to a session is screenshot the homepage of their Instagram and send it to my friends. I went, “Lol, look where I’m off to”, trying to laugh it off. But deep down, I was absolutely terrified. But they could not have been kinder and really looked after me, including on the first day, when I couldn’t walk down the stairs afterwards because I was so ruined from training. I guess it just shows that I had some preconceived ideas that were incorrect. They genuinely cared about making me feel and look better.
I have had to approach training like a job. The sessions were in my diary – they couldn’t just be moved like a hair or dentist appointment. You have to make time to go to the gym otherwise you’re not going to reach your goal.
I was working out for two hours a day. I would do the PT session and then leave to do a jog or a swim. It took me a while to be comfortable enough even to put on Speedos again and go to the pool.
The first six weeks was just a lot of working out in the gym. And then for the last six weeks I cut out alcohol and started slowly eliminating things until I got down to the final two weeks where we were really finessing things. I was slowly taking things out, so I wasn’t going cold turkey.
Mardi Gras [March 2021] was the last time I had a drink, so that was my last little hurrah.
I was back and forth between Sydney and Melbourne three or four times a week. Some days, I’d fly into Sydney, take my suitcase to training or I’d do a class in Melbourne in the morning, fly to Sydney, train, go to work in my gym gear, do the radio show and go home.
When I was doing those long days, I was quite tired by the time it came to 3pm. On the afternoon show on Nova I didn’t have a lot to say. But about three weeks into the hardcore training, my energy began to pick up until it just felt like part of my daily routine. Tim and Kate, my colleagues, were really supportive. In fact, Kate made me some healthy tahini balls, because she knew I couldn’t snack on the bad shit. Chrissy Swan, who’s another really good friend of mine – she does breakfast radio in Melbourne – she’s been giving me lots of low-carb recipes. Everyone’s been really invested and lovely.
No looking back
I’ve got scoliosis and I’ve got arthritis, so I’ve always had a lot of issues with my back. It’s another reason why I’ve always been embarrassed to take my shirt off. When I quit swimming at school, I took up tennis and that was a terrible thing. The worst sport you can play for scoliosis is tennis. I got so self-conscious about everything I wore. Certain T-shirts didn’t fit right on me because my shoulder would stick out.
But through this training, I can’t believe how much my body has balanced out. Looking at myself in the mirror previously, I looked completely crooked and wonky. But my body has really balanced itself. My back feels a lot better, my neck’s not out . . . all the little things that come with having scoliosis and arthritis, like ripped necks and pinched nerves, are occurring so much less than they were before.
I’ve balanced training with lots of chiro, physio and massage. It’s a good excuse. All the money I’ve been saving on booze and buying dinners with friends and all that shit has been going into treating myself. I’m on a first-name basis with every therapist in Sydney and Melbourne.
“It’s shown me, I don’t have to be out every weekend, writing myself off, to still live a pretty fulfilling life”
I’ve just turned 30. I fucking loved a party in my 20s but you know, the past 12 weeks have been so good for my mental health, my clarity. It’s just shown me that I don’t have to be out every weekend, writing myself off, to still live a pretty fulfilling life. The change in diet, the change in the amount I’m drinking, all the exercise have 100 per cent made me a much more chilled person.
I don’t know if this is a little narcissism coming through, but I would always freak out when I went to parties that if I were to leave, the party would fall apart. But the world doesn’t end if Joel Creasey leaves a party. You can go out and have a few drinks and go home. I guess before I suffered from FOMO and I would worry that if I don’t go out, what am I missing out on?
It doesn’t matter. Who cares? Just go home.
The most irritating part for me as a stand-up comic is that I’ve never felt better. Like I genuinely feel incredible. I’ve never been more productive in my life. I think it’s killing my manager because she wakes up to a hundred emails from me. I’m so organised. Every bill is paid. My diary is spotless.
I’ve also been so much nicer. I’ll be interested to see what my comedy colleagues make of this cover, because I don’t know if any comics have ever done this before. I’ll also be interested to see if it changes my comedy. I don’t think it will, although it’ll probably mean I’ll be on stage for longer because I’ll have more energy. So it’s win-win for the audience.
All up, I dropped 12kg of body fat and put on about 4kg of muscle. My advice to anyone wanting to undergo their own transformation is that you can totally do it. Just don’t go cold turkey.
Don’t do it all at once. Start with a bit of training and then slowly implement different things. It all sounds so wanky, and I can’t believe I’m going to say this, but your body will actually tell you what you’re capable of.
If you put in the work, you are going to see the results. I can’t believe I’m saying that. As a stand-up comic, it sort of goes against everything I believe in, but it’s true. I genuinely did not believe I could achieve these sorts of results 12 weeks ago.
I’ll continue going to train, jog and swim and I’ll continue going to Rise. It probably won’t be at the level I am now because that’s just not practical, and I was having to approach it like a job. But I think the bulk of it will stay.
The eating will absolutely stay healthy. Again not quite at the same intensity, because I’m still only eating 1200 calories [5000 kJ] a day. But just all the little tweaks I’ve made and the new habits that I’ve formed, like swapping to long black coffee and not eating right before bed, all those little things will definitely be staying.
What won’t stay? I won’t be going to the gym on a Sunday morning at 7am, that’s for sure. I probably won’t get a spray tan ever again. Probably.”
Joel's biceps and triceps workout
Creasey trained with MH Transformation Coach Jono Acero to strip fat and add muscle to his slim frame. Do this routine three times a week to build a body that’s no joke.
5 mins on any cardio equipment, 2 mins slow and 3 mins moderate
A1 DB SUPINATED CURL (12 reps)
With DBs at sides, palms forward, lift weight on your right arm, then lower. Repeat on left.
A2 DB HAMMER (12 reps)
With DBs at side, palms in, lift weight on your right arm, then lower. Repeat on left.
5 Sets, 45 Sec Rest
B1 SINGLE ARM CABLE CURL (12 reps)
Grab a cable in your left hand, raise to shoulder. Lower, then repeat on right.
B2 BARBELL CURL (12 reps)
Grip a barbell with two hands. Forcefully raise bar to chest, then lower under control.
5 Sets, 45 Sec Rest
C1 ROPE TRICEPS PUSH-DOWN (12 reps)
Grip rope with both hands and push down. Return weight under control.
C2 SINGLE ARM SUPINATED PUSH-DOWN CABLE (12 reps)
Grip cable with right arm at 45°. Lower arm until straight. Repeat on left.
5 Sets, 45 Sec Rest
D1 CLOSE-GRIP PUSH-UP (12 reps)
Get into a push-up position. Slowly lower body to the ground, then press back up.
D2 DB SKULL CRUSHER (12 reps)
Lie on bench holding DBs at 45° on either side of neck. Raise DBs until arms are straight, then lower.
D3 DIP (12 reps)
Grip bars of a dip stand. Lower body as far as you can then push back up to the starting position.
4 Sets, 45 Sec Rest
Joel Creasey can be heard weekdays on Nova’s national drive show, Kate, Tim and Joel from 3pm-6pm.