Books: Hope follows heartache for former Love Island star Gabby Allen
Fitness queen Gabby Allen talks to Hannah Stephenson about life, love, and finding success beyond reality TV
BUBBLY Love Island star Gabby Allen has had her share of heartache in recent years – but exercise, family and her partner Myles Stephenson have all helped keep her smiling, she says.
Six years ago, Allen's father died from brain cancer, aged just 54. They were really close and her dad's death shook her world. The loss has driven her to live more positively, though.
"Me and Ethan, my brother, are just so driven. Every time we are working towards something and then we achieve a goal, we always think, 'Dad would be so proud of you'," says Allen (27). "It's toughened me up in a lot of ways as well. When bad things happen now, obviously they still hurt, but then I think, well, worse things have happened to me. Nothing's ever as bad as that.
"You've got to use the energy in a positive way," the Liverpudlian reality star and personal trainer adds. "My dad was diagnosed, and within 10 months he was dead. So now, when I'm given an opportunity and I'm umming and aahing, my mum says, 'Life's too short – do it!'"
Since she appeared on Love Island in 2017, Allen's career has gone from strength to strength. A qualified personal trainer, she launched her bestselling app, Shape Up With Gabby Allen, in January 2018, and has now brought out a book featuring her workouts and healthy recipes.
She's relishing her now flourishing career – having trained at the Italia Conti theatre school in London, she was at one point a struggling actress and dancer. Allen eventually landed a job in a dance fitness studio and later became a fitness trainer – until Love Island plucked her from relative obscurity, followed by a stint on Celebrity Big Brother in 2018.
"When I first went on to Love Island, I didn't realise I'd be lucky enough to stay there for the duration," she says. "I thought I might just be able to gain a few more followers and get a little bit more of a platform for my fitness career. But being on Love Island has given me so many more opportunities."
Her love life is also on the up. Until she met her partner Myles Stephenson, of X Factor-winning band Rak-Su, the path of love for Allen had not run smooth. Last year she broke up with her Love Island beau Marcel Somerville, amid reports that he'd cheated on her while they were on holiday together in Mexico.
"How shocking was that?" she says now. "But overall, he is a good person. It was the shock that didn't help matters. I haven't spoken to him since, I don't know what he's doing, but I'm happy in a relationship. I wish him all the best but I don't think we can be mates."
After a whirlwind romance, Stephenson moved in with Allen at her London flat, where he now has a studio upstairs.
They met through friends, and Allen reveals: "When I saw him, I thought, 'Yes, you're pretty fit', but I'm really shy when it comes to boys initially. But he has no shame. He just came in, telly on, chatting away, and we got on really well."
She is aware of the pressures of Love Island romances, though. Last year's winner Dani Dyer, who according to reports, recently split from her Love Island partner Jack Fincham, has said that relationships in the public eye can be tough. Allen can see her point.
"With the Love Island relationships, there's so much pressure on you to stay with that person. You're not just in a relationship with them, you're in a relationship with the whole world as well," she says.
"Eight weeks isn't a long time to get to know somebody, and people change. When you get out, you have a completely new life. Not only are you having to learn about yourself in this new life, but you're also having to get to know someone outside the Love Island environment."
In a recent interview, Stephenson hinted that he was going to pop the question. So, has that happened?
"With a Haribo ring, apparently," Allen retorts. "I've told him, 'Listen babe, if you're going to propose with a Haribo ring, then you can eat it!' We're not engaged yet and I don't have a ring yet..."
She adds: "He's very family orientated. But I'm not ready for kids yet. We've got a few years yet. We have different opinions on it. He would have a kid before we got married, but I want that Haribo ring before we have children."
:: Shape Up With Gabby Allen by Gabby Allen is published today by Ebury priced £15.99.