Being in the public eye 24/7 can take it’s toll. We chatted to Love Island OG Adam Collard in mid-June (before he surprisingly re-entered the villa last week!) round the pressure of having an online presence and the impact it can have on the person as well as their family. So, let’s talk about it
MF – Tell us a bit about yourself, your background and your experiences.
I am Adam Collard, obviously a lot of people will know me from my fitness page or Love Island, quite a lot of my followers came over night from being on Love Island back in 2019.
I am 26 and I have never done a ‘job’ apart from fitness and being a personal trainer, which I have done since I was 18. Everyone always think that the gym came after Love Island but my gym career was already a year and a half down the line when I entered the Love Island villa, so I already had quite a lot of experience in fitness and body image. It’s my passion and what I have always done.
After Love Island life went a little crazy and I had about 6 months of nightclub tours. After that I’ve just worked with brands such as MuscleFood, brands that weirdly enough was probably anything I ever wanted. I have Nocco which I’ve bought for years, MuscleFood which I’ve bought for years and I’ve been sponsored by Reebok which is a dream if you’re into fitness.
My average day can be anything from working from a computer anywhere in the world, representing brands, to working in the gym like I always have, and creating more video content to help thousands of people rather than just 12 people like I used to.
MF – Did you feel pressure to look a certain way when you went on Love Island or when you came out?
I mean, there is no motivation like knowing 3 million people are going to be watching you every single night. From booking a holiday, to having a photoshoot, still, Love Island was the peak of like ‘you are not having bad food’. You are the most dialled in you will ever be with your nutrition, it extrinsic motivation.
I think what people don’t realise is, if you gave anyone the chance to go on Love Island they are going to make a serious change, whoever they are. I was kind of lucky because even though I only had 6-8 weeks' notice that I was going to be entering the Love Island villa, but my job was to be in shape before that anyway, so I just turned up. But you have people who on the outside might have had a really hard job or an office job and that sort of lifestyle where they don’t regularly train before Love Island and wasn’t really in the best shape, but then had 4 months to get in the best shape of their life which they do. When you have these sorts of people they may yo-yo and get crucified in the press for gaining weight after Love Island, but really if you saw them beforehand, that might have been their normal size.
When I came out of Love Island I was still in good shape for what anyone would say but what I struggled because I was quite influential on the show, and I was a boy and the boys do more nightclub appearances than the girls. For almost 6 months I was living off service station food pretty much and doing the best I could with gyms. I would roll out of nightclubs at like 3am, even when I wasn’t drinking I would still feel hungover and then trying to train, my body just felt rubbish in my standards and I’m sure other people would have been happy with my body then, but for me it was the worst I’ve ever looked for like 5 years. So I really struggled with trying to comprehend that and it got to the point where I had to have a word with myself and be like, look this is a temporary 5 month job where you are 24/7. It was impossible to stay in shape to what I’m used to, like I’m used to having 8 hours a day to train if I really want to. So it is quite hard, I can understand why people would feel the pressure to be in shape both on Love Island and after Love Island because it's kind of like you’re in the limelight forever after.
MF – Have you felt the same kind of pressure in the fitness industry in general?
Erm again, with my job the best advertisement is yourself. Even before I had all of these followers I felt that anyway because it’s kind of your job as a personal trainer. I’m not saying you have to be in shape throughout the year and I know some great personal trainers who maybe aren’t in the best shape but are amazing coaches but you do feel the pressure, everyone does. Instagram is one of the main pressures for anyone in my sort of space and I would say it’s really direct. I actually sell more plans in summer than winter because I am in more shape.
MF – Would you say the pressure has been more of a negative for you or a driver?
Erm I would say that, and I have experienced this first hand with ex-girlfriends who have been in the public eye, that the pressure can be negative for some people, and I think that actually this is not good for them and they’ve got really upset with comments and it’s really got to them.
For me, I actually think this is a personality trait and I honestly do thrive off it but I’ve always been like that. Negative reinforcement, whether it be people saying stuff in school or people saying ‘you’ll never do that. You’ll never do this’, I've always reacted well to negative reinforcement and it gives me more motivation to go and do things, but I don’t know if that’s because I am extroverted.
MF – Tell us about your relationship with social media. You must get comments on what you’re doing and what you’re not doing?
I take it with a pinch of salt. I’m pretty realistic, you know what you’re getting. If you go on Love Island now and stay on for longer than 2 weeks, you know you’re going to come off with nearly 1 million followers really. Some comments are going to be good and some are going to be bad and this is something I have said to my friends who have struggled with it. People that are commenting good things because they’re a fan or they like you, if you comment back once and then they’re buzzing about that forever. Whereas people who don’t like you, will comment every day.
Social media benefits my life so much that I would never come off it. I am good at having little social media detoxes and stuff like a few weeks back I came off Instagram for 7 days for the first time in 5 years. I’m also good at putting my phone down at 8pm every night which is for sleep but also if you see a bad comment at 8pm that’s going to grind on you, whereas it doesn’t matter at 9am because by the evening you kind of forget about it.
MF – Before you went into Love Island, did you know to this extent how big you were going the attention you were going to have and how did you come to terms with that?
I remember being in the villa and chatting to Dr Alex and this must have been around week 5 or 6 and I remember him saying ‘ah I’ll probably be back to work in 2-3 weeks’ and I was like are you joking, like he was not aware. I was saying to him ‘mate, we’ve been on here for like 6 weeks so you’re going to have a pretty good following’. But even when I got out it was way crazier than what I was expecting.
ITV gave me a bodyguard for like for the first week because there was some women who weren’t happy with some of the stuff I did in the there so when I got out it was just nuts, a crazy crazy experience. So its always bigger than what you expect. As well, I know there’s loads of people that are going into the villa but you’re not suppose to talk about the outside world and what’s going on because it can freak people out. We did ask daft things like what’s the England score because it was the world cup the year that I was in the villa but there was a couple of times where we did sort of ask how big it was outside and they’d say you have no idea like it’s beat every record from previous seasons or like you’ve got this many followers etc and we just couldn’t believe it.
MF – Do you get disappointed in the public for their comments towards people in the villa?
For me, I have never commented on a celebrity who I likes photos, it’s just not in my personality trait. So I always think if someone is commenting negative things on someone’s post that they don’t even know then there’s something seriously wrong in their life more than mine.
MF – Do you find it harder people critiquing your personality or body image?
I think because I know you can always get back into shape like you can change that and you can’t really change your personality, that one was harder for me. The craziest story that I will never forget was 3 days after Love Island and I still have that bodyguard guy following me around and I helped a woman in a wheelchair off the train and a woman was videoing me and she said how she thought I was suppose to be the ‘bad guy’ and I was like do people really think I’m that bad that I won’t help someone off the train and it just blew my mind. But Love Island were really good at telling a story. You’ve got to think that like for the first 4 weeks, every decision on a Sunday it was mine. For the first lot I was picking a girl and then I was in the bottom and then it was back to me picking girls again. So it was inevitable, I was going to upset someone’s family somewhere down the line. So whatever you do, whoever you try to pick, it’s going to offend somebody. But yeah, the personality critique I think is worse because once people get that into their head, it's harder to change. Whereas even if someone hates me but I’m in the best shape of my life, they can’t deny that.
MF – Did you ever think what if the personality critique never stops and people can’t get past it?
I definitely thought what if this doesn’t stop like what if people think this forever as in the bad boy thing like he does what he wants. It was harder when I was in relationships because for them, they obviously knew what I was like. Especially my family, it was probably harder for them.
Even my dad said to me he could tell that the way I was at the time on Love Island wasn’t me at all me but he could understand that if I wasn’t the way I was on Love Island then I would be voted out. So even he said it was nothing like my personality the way I dealt with things on Love Island.
I was definitely worried about people's opinions not changing until I went onto a few talk shows, but people are starting to understand the craic a bit more now and that the producers are just good at telling a story.
MF – What would be your advice to people getting critiqued on body image or personality?
I think for me, because I treat it like a job, I take people’s comments with a pinch of salt and the way I look at it is, whether it's good or bad opinions, people are still talking about me. I’m very good at switching off and differentiating the fake life of Instagram and reality TV, to what is my real life.
I honestly think that if I was in a room for 30 minutes with someone who has trolled me, I think they would understand that I am a good person. As long as you remember that then I don’t think think any critique should bother you that much.
Let’s Talk More
Want to join the conversation? If you’ve related to anything Adam has said, we’d love to hear more about it. Come chat with us over on our social accounts.
Looking for more personal experiences, expert advice or healthy food inspiration? Check out some of our other blog posts for more.