JOEY Essex walked away with a killer body after months of intense training for Dancing On Ice made him fitter than ever.
The reality TV favorite is also single after a brief romance with ice skating partner Vanessa Bauer – but is keeping his options open after discovering single British actress Lily James is following him on Instagram.
Former Towie star Joey, 32, who is also looking for a new home in Dubai, told The Sun on Sunday: “I’m in the best shape of my life, I’m single and getting my life together.
“If a nice, friendly girl came into my life, I would meet her. I would like to have a girlfriend, but she has to fit into my jigsaw puzzle.
“I’ve had some nice girlfriends over the years, but I need a girl to pick me up and put a smile on my face every day.
“If I meet The One I will definitely get married in Essex.”
Asked about Yesterday actress Lily, who recently split from rock star boyfriend Michael Shuman after a two-year romance, Joey said: “She’s kind. We follow each other on Instagram – we’ve been following each other for a while.
“I like to see what she’s up to. She’s good looking and seems like a nice girl – and we’re both single.”
Joey, who rose to fame on Towie 12 years ago, has dated a number of famous beauties.
Last year he was pictured with Love Islander Maura Higgins, and before that he was linked to pop singer Rita Ora, reality stars Sam Faiers and Amy Willerton, and Brazilian model Brenda Santos.
But Joey is amazed at the constant interest in his love life. He said: “People always want to know who I’m with. You want me to find Mrs Essex.
“I have a drink or two”
“I get a lot of people sending me pictures. I recently received a message from a fan on Instagram saying “I want to buy your used socks and underwear”. It is strange. I did not answer.”
Although he developed a close relationship with Vanessa, 26, the Dancing On Ice skater who got him a runner-up spot on the ITV show in March, Joey couldn’t see a future for her after the final.
He said: “We worked together every day. It was great fun. I want the best for her.”
Joey built himself up through daily rehearsals on the ice, striving to maintain his impressive physique by lifting the weights.
He said: “I had to donate garment bags as they no longer fit me, at least 100 designer t-shirts. They are too tight.
“Dancing On Ice has revolutionized my fitness routine. It felt like a huge workout at the gym – it was amazing to tone my legs all day.
“Being on the ice got me in good shape and I’ve maintained it ever since. I feel fit and mentally fit. I’m pressing heavier weights now.
“I’ve always been a confident guy, but I feel like I’m the best I can be now, so maybe I’ll get a few more looks from girls walking down the street.”
Joey’s healthy lifestyle has also extended to his diet.
He’s even given up the boozy evenings that were so prominent during Towie.
He added: “I eat a lot, but I try to eat very cleanly. I eat steak, fish, broccoli and rice. I try to eat a lot of carbohydrates to gain mass.
“I don’t worry as much about drinking alcohol anymore. I only have a drink or two these days to socialize. I don’t like feeling hungover, I like being able to get up in the morning and go.”
Last month The Sun revealed Joey was house hunting in Dubai but says he plans to hold on to his £3million Essex mansion, which has an Ibiza-style pool.
The move comes after he was originally tempted to buy property in Los Angeles but settled on Dubai as it was closer.
He said: “This has bothered me for about five years.
“The plan is to buy a house in Dubai and keep my Essex gaff. I’ll split my time
“With the sunny weather and the opportunity to run outside, it’s a healthier lifestyle for me in Dubai.
“A lot of my buddies live there and friends of the family. We’re all going to my buddy’s penthouse to watch football together. It’s like we’re in Essex. Part of the appeal is that I feel safe in Dubai. But I’m often recognized even if I get a juice in the morning.
“My family is also moving for me.
“I thought about moving to LA a few years ago, but it’s just a bit too far from my family back home. The ten-hour flight is too long.”
Having appeared on a variety of TV shows including I’m A Celebrity, Celebrity SAS: Who Dares Wins, Celebs Go Dating, and ending up in dozens of lucrative advertising campaigns, he’s found more success than he could ever have imagined.
Joey, who worked at Billingsgate Fish Market in London after leaving school, said: “It’s a blessing to be in this position.
“I will always be working, but I want to be in the sun in my free time.
“I was given a hard copy of my bank statement when I was working at the Fish Market in Billingsgate and I keep it to stay grounded.
“I turned my head. i own my house No one can take it away from me – I’ve been wise with my money.”
In 2021, he opened up about his mother’s death when he was ten years old. It was detailed in the heartbreaking BBC1 documentary Joey Essex: Grief And Me.
Joey and his sister Frankie, 34, were raised by their father Don after mother Tina took her own life.
He revealed that the show not only “saved” him, but countless other men who have since contacted him.
Joey said: “I haven’t been in therapy in a while. I feel fine now but I would like to go every two weeks and keep it up for life.
“It helped save me. A few times a year there were days when I wasn’t feeling well. I would sit there in floods of tears – anything could trigger me. I could drive and would have to stop because I would be on bits.
“It taught me so much. My DMs on Instagram were flooded with messages from guys saying I saved their lives. It’s still happening.”