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Celebrity workout tips: How Angelina Jolie, Uma Thurman, Charlize Theron, Penelope Cruz & others get to look so good

Female celebrities and supermodels are hailed as the standard of beauty and fitness. Their svelte figures and radiant energy can make you blanch, even on your most confident of days. Did you know that having an A-list body is not reserved for celebrities only? Here are the latest fitness trends and superstar secrets that you, too, can do to get fit!

functional fitness

Functional full-body training is the A-list choice for working out and staying in shape. Forget the monotonous hours on the elliptical or boring reps on weight machines, celebs are reaping the fitness advantages of simultaneously using multiple muscle-groups and an assortment of weighted tools — as well as their own body weight — as they go through fluid full-body motions.

Jackie Keller, founder of Nutrifit, certified wellness coach, nutritionist and trainer has worked with A-listers Angelina Jolie, Uma Thurman, Charlize Theron, Penelope Cruz and Susan Sarandon. She says, “Our celebrity clients do combination moves that involve multiple muscle groups at the same time, such as walking with bicep curls. They do core balance exercises combined with isometric contractions.”

Sarah Lurie, founder of Iron Core, agrees and adds, “The biggest trend in celebrity fitness is functional full-body training that uses compound exercises to get more work done in a shorter amount of time.”

“Combination moves such as doing squats with overhead presses engage both lower and upper body while strengthening core muscles,” she says. “This is very appealing to celebrities, who don’t have a lot of time to spend at the gym, because they can get an effective 20-minute workout doing compound exercises that will give them the results of a 60-minute workout that focuses on one muscle group at a time.”


kettlebells for fitness According to Lurie, one of the hottest fitness tools used by top trainers for the likes of hot-bodies Penelope Cruz and Jessica Beal is kettlebells. Originally from Russia, these weighted kettles can be lifted and swung through movements that work your entire body.

“Celebrities are drawn to kettlebells because,” Lurie says, “the dynamic full-body moves using kettlebells will not only improve strength and muscle tone, when done continuously, stars get a hardcore cardiovascular workout.”

How much of a workout? “They can get their heart rates up to their training zones of 150 or 160 beats per minute just by combining kettlebells and plyometrics in full-body moves,” says Lurie — which means kettlebells are perfect for that lean, toned look.

Fitness spokesperson for Women’s Health magazine Amy Dixon agrees, “Kettlebells are one of the most difficult workouts to do because they involve the entire body to do the work, therefore it burns a lot of calories due to the metabolic demand. It mixes stabilization exercises, momentum and just plain strength.”

See a Kettlebell demonstration

Mind-Body Training

Another trend in celebrity fitness is mind-body integration. Harvey Walden, fitness expert of VH-1’s Celebrity Fit Club and author of No Excuses! Fitness Workout , says “Celebs are doing a combination of yoga, Pilates, and cardio training. These modalities work because they are the healthy way of getting fit and getting it done right.”

According to fitness expert for America Online Fitz, “Alicia Minshew who plays Kendall Hart on ABC’s All My Children does a lot of Pilates, yoga and weights. She also runs four miles twice a week.” She adds, “Sasha Cohen, US Olympic Silver Medalist in ice skating does an extremely advanced stretching routine that helps improve her balance, keeps her insanely flexible and injury free.”

In addition, stars are looking for workouts that work for them — mentally and physically — and are enjoyable. Celebrity trainer for a national fitness program called “Novo Nordisk Presents: Divabetic – Makeover Your Diabetes” Kathy Dolgin, best known as High Voltage, who has worked with cheery CBS news anchor Katie Couric and high-energy performer RuPaul says, “I get my clients to figure out what moves them. Music is a big motivator because it involves body and mind.” Getting in tune as you get fit offers other mental benefits as well, says Dolgin. “There is an exercise program for everyone and incorporating music into it makes working out fun instead of a chore.”

Not magic – just hard work

“The biggest celebrity fitness secret,” Walden says, “is the hard work and hours needed to get to that point.” Fitz seconds that, saying, “The secret to celeb fitness is that their profession forces them to pursue true fitness. If they want to ‘look the part,’ they have to exercise frequently and watch what they eat. Celebs don’t get a pass on training — they are required to be diligent or they won’t be hired.”

And according to Dixon, “When they are getting ready for a photo shoot or a film, they will regularly do two-a-day workouts and really cut down their calories.” There are no shortcuts or quick-fixes in this business — long-term success means a solid commitment to staying in tip-top shape.


According to Keller, the best bodies belong to the stars who consistently workout and eat healthy. She says, “Our star clients follow a balanced diet along the line of our general NutriFit recommendation of 60% favorable carbs (fruits, vegetables and whole grains), 20% lean protein and 20% healthy fats.”

A fit body requires a commitment to long-term healthy eating as well as sensible diet modifications when necessary. Dixon says, “Looking good takes a lot of work and dedication to a nutritious diet plan.” When stars need to get fit for a role, their diets reflect their goals. Dixon adds, “A high-protein diet that is low in simple sugars is an efficient way to drop weight.” However, some celebs will go to extremes. According to Dixon, “Cleanses are very popular right now, although I don’t think they are good for you. Why starve your body and slow down your metabolism in the long run?”

In addition, some celebrities follow specific diet plans. Tanya Zuckerbrot, MS, RD, author of the F-Factor Diet: Discover the Secret to Permanent Weight-loss, says, “Macrobiotic, raw food and vegan diets have gained tremendous popularity in the past ten years. Followers of these diets include Madonna, Alicia Silverstone and Demi Moore. Gwyneth Paltrow used to follow a strict macrobiotic diet, but gave it up when she became pregnant with her first child.” She adds, “[These] diets all can be effective, as they are based on plant-based protein and whole grains, which will improve overall nutrition and health.”

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