A chance discovery online introduced Scots TV host Lorraine Kelly to Maxine Jones, the banker-turned Zumba teacher she swears changed her life.

The unlikely duo have released a post-festive season workout DVD but, says Lorraine, it’s more than ‘just another fitness video’.

The journalist and ITV presenter, who started her working life in local newspapers in Scotland, talks to ANN FOTHERINGHAM about exercise, energy levels and Ernest Shackleton....

IF YOU’RE going to take fitness advice from anyone in the post-Christmas mulch of left-over mince pies, too much turkey and more chocolate than you can shake a family-sized tin of Cadbury’s Heroes at, you are going to take it from Lorraine Kelly.

This is no air-brushed, sculpted, plastic goddess straight off the catwalk or film set with a team of make-up artists, dressers and hair stylists following her down Dundee’s main street, after all.

This is Lorraine. Mrs Down to Earth. National-treasure-in-waiting. She used to work at the East Kilbride News, for goodness’ sake, and fondly reminisces about Victor’s chip shop and has a pie at the footie. 

She is just like us (sort of, minus the sparkling telly career, clothing ranges, interiors collection and celebrity friends) and if she can do it, then we can do it.

Forget all the nonsense about getting the ‘perfect bikini body’ or achieving supermodel status, or any amount of similar claptrap – this is simply about losing a bit of weight, feeling a lot healthier, and having a bit of a laugh at the same time.

“Our DVD is very different because it’s real,” Lorraine explains, earnestly. 

“It’s the nearest thing you will get to being at one of Maxine’s classes and it’s the chance to get hot and sweaty and also have a lot of fun. “This really works.”

Lorraine found Maxine online three years ago, when she was looking for an exercise class to go to. Former banker Maxine started teaching Zumba – a mix of aerobic exercise and high energy dance – in 2011. “Her class is in a church hall, right across the road from my flat in London, so it’s really handy,” says Lorraine.

“I also get the tube across to her class in Bethnal Green in the east end when I can manage – it’s great. Women of all ages and shapes and sizes go and no-one bothers. It’s like going to a party.

“Maxine’s music choices and routines mean you have a bit of fun and get hooked on exercise – it happened to me. I toned up, lost weight and I have kept it off.”

She grins: “I have a flatter tummy now than I did when I was in my teens and haven’t done a single sit up or crunch – Maxine’s expertise means she can give you routines that work out every part of your body and everything just tones up.”

Lorraine treats the classes as a ‘stressbuster’ and says they have helped her ditch dieting for good. “Diets just make you fat and miserable,” she says, flatly. 

“I eat sensibly during the week and eat what I like at the weekends – I’m not on a diet and never will be again. “I think the biggest impact has been finding exercise that isn’t boring and actually does me good. I realise if you put in the effort, you see the results – you have to keep it up, though.

“I really look forward to Maxine’s classes and I don’t just feel better physically, I feel much better mentally too – it’s a real stressbuster.  “It’s fun. I wish I could bottle Maxine’s energy and enthusiasm. Maxine changed my life.”

The timing of the DVD is, of course, designed to capitalise on everyone’s desire to get fit and healthy at the start of a new year. “Everyone wants to get in shape at the start of January,” agrees Lorraine. “I think getting into a routine is important – I go to classes twice a week and everything else just has to fit around that.

“Walking is good too – walk as much as you possibly can – and keep hydrated. And there’s the whole thing about junk food – don’t deny yourself everything. Food isn’t the enemy so don’t treat it as such. If you want a biscuit, have one, just don’t eat the whole packet.” She frowns: “It’s important though, to be realistic role models.

“It’s why we tweet “sweaty selfies” after class which are never filtered or tampered with – all those unrealistic photo-shopped and airbrushed images are ridiculous and can be dangerous.” DVD aside, Lorraine has a busy 2017 planned.

As well as continuing to work on her morning show five days a week, column-writing for national newspapers and developing her JD Williams clothing ranges, she is achieving a lifelong ambition by getting the opportunity to retrace a famous journey. “I’m going follow in the footsteps of one of my all-time heroes, Sir Ernest Shackleton,” she beams. 

“I’m travelling from Elephant Island to South Georgia in February and can’t wait.” Polar explorer Shackleton was hailed a hero when he saved all of his crew following the loss of their ship, the Endurance, on a trip to the Antarctic in 1916.

Lorraine became a Shackleton Foundation Ambassador in 2014, joining the board of the charity which helps improve the lives of disadvantaged young people by providing seed-funding to social entrepreneurs prepared to take a risk with innovative projects to help others less fortunate than themselves.

“Shackleton has always been my absolute hero,” she said at the time. “His leadership skills and sheer strength of character led to his astonishing achievement of saving the lives of all his men against all the odds.  “I’m over the moon to get the chance to follow in his footsteps.” l Lorraine: Brand New You is out now on DVD, £14.