Have You Heard? is where the Pod Bible team meet the people behind the podcasts you may not have heard of yet. Before The Lights may fall into that category, but it gives you insightful chats with guests who are household names – Maisie Williams (Game of Thrones), Nicholas Hoult (X-Men: First Class) and Sophie Cookson (Kingsman) to name a few. We spoke to the host to find out more about the show…
Who are you and what’s your podcast about?
We are Dave Hastie, George Ashwell and Josh Betteridge. We own and run Before The Lights which is a private gym and rehab facility in London, specialising in preparing actors for film and television roles. Over the years we’ve built a unique community of people across the creative industry from film and TV to music and YouTube.
Each episode of our podcast, we sit down with one of our clients to discuss their relationship with fitness and how they keep on top of their physical and mental health. We cover a lot of ground from what it’s like working out with X-Men, to the hand-dolls Maisie Williams sews to help her switch off.
Why did you decide to start podcasting in the first place?
We’re very lucky to have close relationships with some incredibly interesting people. When we’re in the gym they’ll often end up chatting to us really openly about the challenges they face on and off screen. There tends to be a lot of focus on their image, with little thought for how health and fitness can play a much larger role in their lives beyond how they look.
With that in mind, one of the aims of the podcast was to change the narrative that has dominated fitness culture for so long and highlight how looking after yourself is more than just looking good, whether you’re in the public eye or not.
We also wanted to give listeners an insight into what it really takes to be ready for various roles in the film industry, from bulking up to play a superhero to how we help our clients embody real-life people. We’ve been able to have great conversations about the ups and downs of working in film and TV as well as how the industry is changing it’s approach to body image.
Which podcasts do you take inspiration from?
We listen to a real range of different podcasts between us; from This American Life to Elis James and John Robins on 5Live. But to be honest we’re not really trying to emulate anyone else’s particular style, mostly because we just take our relationships from the gym and just start talking in front of microphones instead of fitness equipment…There’s not a huge amount more to it than that.
The three of us met at university, which helps shape the character of our show. We’re very comfortable around each other and the people we work with so that encourages a slightly different environment and dynamic that some of our guests and listeners might not be used to from more routine interviews when actors are on a usual run of “press”.
What’s the key to being a good podcast host?
Thinking of ourselves as hosts still feels strange. For the first few recordings the three of us, our guests and our producer Jimmy literally sat in the gym, huddled around microphones on a tiny table. We have to give so much credit to Jimmy, without him I think the show would be a shambles!
If we have any particular strength I’d say we capture authentic conversations. We’re lucky to be really good friends with the people we talk to, which probably goes a long way to making our show feel different to other sports or entertainment podcasts. The guests don’t feel like they’ve come on to plug a TV show or film.
What’s the key to being a good podcast guest?
Being open and up for having a laugh. We do talk about some serious topics on the show but it’s always easier and more engaging when we can go between the heavier stuff and the lighter stuff…just like you would do if you were having a pint or catching up with friends.
Who’s your dream guest for the podcast?
Dave: From our clients I’d love to get [Get Out star] Daniel Kaluuya on. He’s so busy so it’s something we haven’t been able to make work yet…but we will keep trying.
George: We haven’t worked with them (yet) but Christian Bale or Tom Hanks would be great. They’re some of the kings of the on-screen transformations so it would be fun to get into how it’s affected their bodies and how they motivate themselves every time to change their body so drastically.
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learnt so far as a podcaster?
That it’s good to take a gamble and step outside of your comfort zone. None had any sort of presenting experience before the podcast and it all started as a conversation between Dave and Jimmy on a dog walk.
We didn’t really know what it would be initially but with a little bit of work figuring out the format and what would get the most out of us and our guests it’s become a real extension of what Before The Lights represents and has opened up an entirely new side to us as a business. It’s so much fun to make and we are just really glad people like it.