An icon of British TV, Mr Motivator is a fitness instructor who rose to fame on GMTV in the 1990s. Real name Derrick Evans, his outlandish, highly coloured outfits and energetic routines made him hugely popular as he used his platform to encourage viewers to get fit. More than 25 years since he first appeared on British TV, Mr Motivator remains an icon in the country regularly running public health campaigns for the likes of British Heart Foundation as well as releasing a plethora of fitness DVDs. Now a sought-after BAME speaker, he reflects on the hurdles he faced as a Black entertainer making a name for himself in the 90s.
In 1993, Mr Motivator joined popular breakfast TV show GMTV. Performing quick and easy workouts for viewers each morning, audiences loved him and his bright spandex! Spending seven years on the show he also released a whole host of hugely successful fitness DVDs. This included Mr Motivator’s 10 Minute BLTs, Body Conditioner: Shot in Barbados and Bums, Legs & Tums. In 2000, he headed back to Jamaica and started H’Evans Scene, a tourism business that offers thrill-seeking experiences to guests. In 2009, he made a brief return to GMTV as part of a promotion of the NHS’ Change4Life campaign. He also met the then Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, to discuss national health.
Born and bred in Jamaica, he and his family moved to the UK in his youth. In the mid-80s he began teaching exercise classes in London before being asked by the British Heart Foundation to do it nationwide. Mr Motivator’s classes caught the attention of ITV at the start of the 1990s and he was put in front of audiences for the first time in 1993. After performing exercises in the street alongside TV presenters Richard and Judy, the duo gave him the name, Mr Motivator, which has stuck ever since. Despite such success, it took Derek a decade to break into television due to the white-washing on British television. He was regularly told that he would not appeal to audiences, so at events highlights the importance of inclusion.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, Mr Motivator once again returned to British TV on the BBC’s HealthCheck UK Live which helped keep people fit and healthy during the lockdowns. In the same year, he took part in several interviews and broadcasts to discuss his experience of racism both in the streets and the filming studio, where he was consistently turned down for roles due to his race. At events, Derek highlights the importance of inclusion in the workplace, and the power of diversity in mainstream television.