X Factor star Paul Akister warms up for his big night

Paul Akister.
Paul Akister.
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Paul Akister is taking fitness tips from an X Factor rival to stay in shape for the hit TV talent show.

The Lancaster singing sensation has been hitting the gym with Jake Quickenden as he prepares for the first of the live shows this Saturday night.

Jake Quickenden.

Jake Quickenden.

Paul has shed three stone on a fitness regime since he was eliminated from last year’s X Factor.

And now he’s been working out with the muscular Quickenden, who joins him in the boys’ category mentored by Melanie ‘Mel B’ Brown of The Spice Girls.

“Jake’s an absolute freak in the gym, he pretty much lives in there and goes every day,” said Paul.

“I want to keep fit, so it’s good to have a character like him around.”

Paul, who has been battling a cold, said he’s “excited” about the live shows getting under way.

He has spent most of Thursday and Friday at the ITV studios in London, preparing and rehearsing for tomorrow, when he will sing a version of Ella Henderson’s 2014 number one hit ‘Ghost’.

“I got here early in the morning yesterday and saw the stage for the first time, which made it real, and was absolutely amazing,” said Paul, 25.

“Then we did a run through, but I can’t do too much, because I’ve just caught a cold.

“I met (former X Factor winners) Little Mix, and saw Ellie Goulding, although I didn’t go up to speak to her.

“On Sunday night Taylor Swift and Pharrell Williams will be there. How amazing is that? I don’t know if we’ll get to meet them.”

Paul’s life has been a whirlwind since he found out he was through to the final 12 in the TV talent search, which launched the careers of One Direction, Leona Lewis and Olly Murs.

The shy Lancastrian has been living in a house in London with his fellow contestants, sharing a room with Jake (pictured), Andrea Faustini, Ben Haenow and Mikey from the band Only the Young.

“At first it was quite scary because I’m used to being back at home living with my mum and dad, and my sister,” he said.

“There’s cameras following you everywhere, we get up early, which I’m not used to, and everything is done last-minute.

“I took a back seat, and at first it was hard for me. I’m like that with people. I keep my guard up at first, but as soon as I get to know people, I’m fine.”

Now Paul is just 24 hours away from the biggest night of his life, when he will sing live to a TV audience of millions.

Expectations are high because our man is one of the bookies’ favourites, but he’s taking pressure in his stride.

“I’m laid back anyway, and I’m just trying to keep my feet on the ground,” he said.

“I’ll take each week as it comes and just want to get through that first live show.”

Watch Paul in the first X Factor live show on Saturday at 7.30pm on ITV1 and on the results show on Sunday at 8.15pm.

*Follow Paul’s fortunes in The X Factor at @guardiandigital and @the_visitor and tweet your support for him using the hashtag #teampaul