This weeks interview will surprise most of you. When you think of Hamish most of you will think of comedic genius who can make the drive home so much easier or the numerous tv hits both him and his man friend Andy have been involved in over the years. Some of you are also aware of his toughness, grit and determination when it comes to life and training. This week we were lucky enough to get Hamish to spare five minutes of his time and talk us through some his ideas on training and mindset. This does not disappoint. Enjoy this guys!
Name: Hamish Blake
Profession: Great question, wasn’t expecting to be stumped 3 in! I’ll say Fun Enthusiast.
Background: After initially looking at a career in science, I fell into the entertainment world through a series of chance happening, accidents, good luck and a curiosity for a good adventure. But mostly luck.
Can name almost every character of the Disney Cars franchise (I reckon I’ve had more contact hours learning about Cars than I did at uni. I also, on a more serious note, care about it because I always want to care about what my boy is into). Seriously though, on the physical side of things I have also participated in a Brazillian Warrior pain initiation ceremony (I lasted 10-11 seconds) and a few years ago I rowed a marathon on a concept2 rower to beat the indoor lightweight women’s record (smashed it by a minute, 2:58:30). Seriously though, that was a bit of a personal training highlight as it was a good physical and mental challenge. I had to train to prepare for that last stretch, and you learn a lot about yourself in that final half hour! I am also the Mr NY State Heavyweight bodybuilding champion (not a joke, but I won it on a technicality as no one else was in my weight division)
Social media: @hamishblake on Twitter (don’t think I’ve been on for a few months) and @hamishblakeshotz on insta.
Question 1. What have you been up to this last week?
I predominantly work in radio so this week has been “normal” in the sense that every day is different and highly random things become the norm. I designed and created a fragrance behind my mates back, made him sign a contract without reading it, then told him he has 15,000 bottles of his own fragrance on the way. So last week was all about organising his photo shoot, by which I mean getting a giant ice sculpture and a lady with a snake to add to “vibe”. So that’s probably not a bad example of our job, it’s only consistent in the sense it’s never the same. We also have a new TV show out that’s into it’s third week, so there’s usually a bit of publicity required to keep the ball in the air on that front. But in between doing the radio show and organising the shoot, it’s spending time with my boy Sonny, squeezing in a couple of bits of exercise, carving out a date night with my wife, then also trying to not watch all of House of Cards in one sitting and be tired for the rest of the month.
Question 2. What’s a normal day look like for you?
6:30am, pretend to not hear my son wake up and hope that this is the first day he decides he’ll sleep in. 7am, admit this is not the day he decides to sleep in, and get him up. He’s 3, we don’t have any other kids yet, I’m not usually in a rush to get out the door so I’m very conscious not every morning will have a few free hours to wrestle and play trains with him, so I enjoy it. I don’t look at my phone till 9, which is hard, but I know I’m never going to get to the end of my life and wish i looked at Instagram earlier in the day. Depending on if Zo is working, or if it’s one of Sonny’s day care days, I may have a few hours free in the morning and I can fit in some exercise and time for a coffee and “thinking”. This post exercise patch of coffee and thinking is where I find a bunch of ideas come from, and ideas are currency in our business, so it always makes the day easier if that morning’s idea harvest goes well! By midday-ish I’m in at radio, or maybe earlier. Alternatively if there’s things that need my attention in TV land then I’ll head to our TV office, then radio. Once at the studio we will generally throw around some thoughts, and use the next few hours to record any bits we might need for that days show, or tend to the general admin that comes with a national radio show (“the station in Adelaide needs you to record a goodbye message for Pete in sales” etc). The creative business we’re in is a constant balance between working hard, but maintaining space and time for fun, because fun is our real business. Sounds easy, but the weird paradox that happens is that (sometimes, in radio) the more people are aware they need to be having fun, the more they stress about it. So ideally, and luckily this is true, 4-6pm is the easiest part (professionally) of the day. The show is always fun, always different, always a buzz. Those two hours basically feel like a holiday. Then I get out of the studio pretty quick to jet back home in time to do dinner with Sonny and have a bath or a shower with him, read some books and get him into bed. I’m usually pretty fried, and have been known to zone out a bit while we’re standing there in the shower, but again, this moment in his life is fleeting and I love I can get to do it. 7:30 it’s phones away again, dinner with my wife, and then we’ll attack whatever box set we’re doing.
Question 3. Who or what has had the biggest impact on your career & why?
I’d have to say this guy I met at Uni called Andy, that particular sliding door has lead to a lot of adventures.
Question 4. What drives you to keep on pushing the limits in your physical and mental/emotional game?
I am fairly obsessed with not letting my life slip into being mundane. We see it happen to people all around us but from a young age I remember being determined to keep a sense of adventure and fun in life. Now, this is just my opinion, but I think if you keep driving yourself to make choices that are physically and mentally tough or challenging, or scary, that’s a pretty good recipe to keep a sense of vitality in your life. Or perhaps more accurately, if you start to tend to make choices that are physically and mentally comfortable all the time, I think that’s a sure fire way to lose the spark out of life. I’m realising the older you get, the more you have to fight that. I think the physical is a great place to test the mental.
Question 5. What in your words makes a good person/human?
I think you can trace back a lot of good qualities to someone who thinks outside themselves.
Question 6. What in your mind and words are two or three things you would do consistently to keep your conditioning up…things you think are important?
I’m certainly no poster boy (poster man?) for strength and conditioning and due to various injuries I’ve had to adapt a bit over the years. A big issue I had was my enthusiasm in early days of training far outstripping my talent and ability, probably a common mistake. So I’d get injured. That made me re-asses what I’m training for. For me, it’s to be an active dad, be able to take on a physical challenge if one takes my fancy, and to be injury free. Those are my purposes, and I train to help those. So now I’m at the stage where for every session my goals are to be little stronger at the end (a lot of core and gymnastic type body weight stuff, gradually re-introducing KB’s and weighted movements post my last back blow out) and to have added some breathing/mental stress to my body (ski erg or watt bike for bursts and suffering!) Basically I try to pick the right stress to add to my body to provide the right adaptation for what I’m after in real life outside of the gym (by which I mean my garage). Then ideally I like to actually have the goal clearly set for myself. Like a rowing marathon, or a big multi day bike ride, or a ski trip you want to be injury proof for. Whatever. Some tangible thing you know is going to be an awesome life experience and memory, so you can say to yourself I will do x now to enjoy y in 3 months. For me right now, I have a bet on to race my mate next year up this particular mountain in NZ on road bikes, Coronet Peak. It’s 8km of pure grind at 10% incline. No one else will ever care who wins this race, our times will probably be around the 50th percentile for people who’ve made the climb, but I don’t care, cos I’m obsessed with beating Jon and that is giving me good consistency for training at the moment!
Question 7. How have you developed your grit and determination?
For whatever doses of those two qualities I have, I would say I reckon the desire to want more of them, actually does help you have more. I just hate the thought of quitting, I hate the thought of looking back and knowing I was presented with a fork in the road and in that moment when I was pushed right to my limit I caved and picked the easy route. I don’t know where it comes from apart from a deep desire to not make the easy choice. Maybe because I feel like I’ve been blessed by taking a leap or doing something that seemed scary in life (ie; getting up on stage to do comedy, asking a girl who’s way better and hotter than me to marry me etc) I’ve come through the other side and I know that challenging that fear is good. That’s why we want to quit I think when we’re pushing hard in training, it’s fear. Fear of pain, fear of failure, fear of not hitting a target. Exercise is just a really effective way to keep giving yourself the opportunity to test your resolve in those moments of fear. I always feel I have to FORCE myself into the hard choice when I’m training and I’m at that wall, to make myself do it, but then I think it gives you more confidence to make the hard choice the next time. That’s what I mean when I say that the more you practice determination and grit, I think the more you get it (even if you’re just moving from “tiny bit” to “little bit more”). And it feels great afterwards, and you set up a good little positive feedback loop.
Question 8. Favourite quote?
Just so many. But while I’m thinking about training, I’ll go with “Never, ever, ever give up” – Churchill. I’m also going to throw in “The present moment is all you ever have” by Eckhart Tolle I have written above my desk because it’s a handy way to suddenly, and intensely, enjoy whatever you’re doing. I don’t want to be morbid, but it’s the quote that makes me realise when I’m just wandering home from the shops, that if I make it to 80, I’d probably BBQ a nut to get to be in my mid 30’s just wandering home from the shops.
Question 9. How and why is training so important to you specifically, and how does it impact you as a person…what are the benefits you see?
Apart from getting ready to beat my mate Jon in NZ as previously discussed, and setting a good physical example to my kids, the purpose of training for me is largely mental. And within that I reckon there are two parts. One is the pure benefit of doing something all consuming (and hard, it should be hard) for an hour or two that completely takes you out of your head. I meditate but sometimes find nothing shuts off the mind quite like almost killing yourself on a ski erg or a bike, or a combination of other things. Not a lot of times have I found myself trying to hold on for a max effort minute thinking about the shopping list or wondering if we should get new outdoor chairs. I love that focus…I rarely have it normally! The other part is I have a sick love for pushing myself so hard that everything in me wants to quit, and then seeing what I do in that space (which I think I covered before). Whatever happens in that space you find out who you are, and you get to choose if you’re happy with that, or if next time you’re going to go harder/smarter/better. It’s totally internal and totally personal, but I love the realness of that mental chat. It’s hard to describe to people who aren’t addicted to that mental tussle that’s it’s worth getting addicted to.
Question 10. Best advice you’ve ever been given?