And over the past few years, something weird has happened.
I’m sure she won’t mind me saying she’s half the woman she used to be.
She looks younger now than she did when she first started out all those years ago.
She’s slimmer and perkier-looking.
And she puts the transformation down not to her but to her friend, Maxine Jones.
Maxine is Lorraine’s fitness instructor.
Being in their company is a bit like being with about 10 girlie pals on a particularly raucous night out.
They finish each other’s sentences.
Sometimes they say the same thing at once.
And there’s lots of good-natured teasing and laughter.
It all started when Lorraine decided she needed to do something to get fit and healthy a couple of years ago.
She found out where the nearest fitness class was to her London flat.
It was five minutes away, in a local church hall, full of women all shapes and sizes.
And the “ball of energy” that is Maxine.
Something just clicked.
“It’s difficult to go to a class for the first time,” Lorraine says. “You don’t know anyone, you’ve no idea what it’s going to be like. But everyone made me so welcome and I was instantly hooked by this ball of energy and enthusiasm.”
It probably isn’t every day that a national treasure turns up for a workout at the local church hall. So I ask Maxine what she was thinking when Lorraine walked in.
“I’m standing there talking to this Scottish bird and I went over to my girl that signs everyone in at the door and said that Scottish woman doesn’t half sound like Lorraine Kelly,” she guffaws. “And she pointed to her name written down on my register and I was like…Oh! I was
falling over myself with embarrassment. She had her hair scraped back and she had no make-up on but this accent just came out.”
The two have gone on to forge a firm friendship that has seen them now team up to make a DVD. It’s hitting the shops on Boxing Day.
Lorraine’s used to a bit of showbiz glamour.
But for Maxine, it’s not where she expected to find herself.
It could all have worked out so differently.
She gave up a lucrative career in banking she tells me, because she just didn’t love it.
“This was investment banking – the sexier side of banking. I did it for 23 years. 23 years, Alison!” she shouts. “But I was working a 10-hour day. Add on a couple of hours to that with commuting. But I just didn’t love it. And it’s so important to be passionate in life. When you’re not it
starts to drag you down.”
It was husband Colin, or CJ, who suggested Maxine needed to have a think about changing course.
“It became very draining, hard work. I was coming home in tears,” she remembers. “And he said to me you know, something’s got to change. It’s amazing to have the support of your partner like that.”
So she took the plunge and gave up the sexy banking career.
Surely some of her high-earning colleagues must have thought she was off her head? She was in banking during the boom years, when people could earn huge salaries and even bigger bonuses.
“Yes. I was called Mad Max!” she hoots. “But I wasn’t cut out for a desk job. I’d discovered my dance classes and thought, yes! This is where it’s at! I am so glad I packed in banking.”
Of course, it’s safe to say Lorraine could have joined one of the many trendy gyms in London.
You know, the ones that are so exclusive they don’t tell you how much they cost to join on their websites – if you have to ask you can’t afford it.
Some are £6,000 a year. And that’s after you’ve paid £2,000 for the pleasure of joining. Maxine’s classes are a fiver a time.
Didn’t you fancy something a bit more glam, glitzy and celeb-packed, Lorraine?
Lorraine and Maxine both hoot with laughter.
“No – I’m not interested in super-trendy gyms. No, no, no! It’s not a fashion parade,” Lorraine says with conviction. “I wanted something near my flat, something easy to get to and fun. And luckily for me, it was Max’s class that I found.”
Over the years, Lorraine’s weight has fluctuated. She’s tried this diet and that.
Since joining Maxine’s classes, she’s gone from a size 14 to a 10. We all know, though, it’s not so much losing the weight as keeping it off that’s the really big challenge.
In her 50s, has she finally cracked it?
“Look, you’re allowed to enjoy yourself,” she says.
“Yes, you definitely are. Ooh, it’s Christmas!” Maxine chips in. “But you have to get a sweat on. At the end of one of Maxine’s classes, she looks like someone’s poured a bucket of water over her head,” Lorraine continues. “As do I, as does everybody.”
She’s off on a roll again.
“I used to cover my arms. No longer. I’ve got a waist. Look. If you’d told me years ago that I’d be outside, live on telly, dancing in my bikini I’d have thought you were mad,” she says.
She’s referring to last summer when, on her TV programme, she boogied in her bikini to celebrate the Bikini Promise, the healthy eating and exercise plan that saw viewers sign up to shape up.
“I did it. And the reaction was overwhelmingly positive,” she says. “I’d never have done that before.”
Maxine nods. “It’s the confidence that comes with exercise,” she says.
Lorraine is 56, Maxine 46.
“102 between us!” they say in unison.
They’re pretty good role models for the rest of us. Proof that you can stay in shape and look better than you did before.
“Sometimes women get a bit older and they think, ach. And give up a wee bit,” Lorraine reflects.
“And it’s never, ever, too late to get healthy and shape up a bit. The other day I was looking at photographs of myself in my 20s and 30s and I look older than I do now. Mind you, that’s partly down to fashion. And I’ve had absolutely no work done. Botox? I refuse.”
As for Maxine, she can’t quite believe where she’s ended up.
“Honestly, I keep pinching myself and wondering when I’ll wake up. My mum’s even worse. I have to let her know when I’m going to be on the telly so she doesn’t get a shock.”
Lorraine Kelly: Living Life to the Max is out on December 26. Just in time for that new year shape up! It has four 20-minute sections: aerobics, waistline, squats and, as Maxine says, “Lorraine and I just doing our favourite tunes.”
There are 120 women from Maxine’s classes in it, too. “Real women, not airbrushed. We wanted to show it doesn’t matter if you go wrong – it’s not Strictly,” she adds.