Not long ago, we went, well, nuts for this recipe from Paul Vincent, a Hollywood trainer who’s worked with celebrities like Chris Pine, Ryan Gosling, and Harrison Ford. And while we do love that seasoned almonds recipe, we wanted to hear a little more from him. Like, oh, what it’s like working with Han Freakin’ Solo. Happily, Paul obliged!
I’ve been on numerous movie shoots like, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, to help my clients prepare for big roles. Something I learned very quickly is that I needed to train actors in the same way that I trained my athlete clients in their competitive seasons. Oftentimes, shoots can last up to five months and include grueling schedules, night shoots and 3 a.m. calls. I’ve included five tips below that I use to help my celebrity clients get through these intense months — and that can help you push through any challenging workouts:
1. Focus on nutrition. Since many of the roles in movies like “Star Wars” are both physically and mentally draining, it’s important to eat foods that allow you to remaining energized for long periods of time. I always recommend that my clients focus on foods with protein for sustained energy. An easy example of this is an almond milk protein shake with MCT oil, greens, almond butter and some berries.
2. Avoid boredom. Luckily, every celebrity I’ve worked with has been incredibly motivated and committed to their training. However, even the most motivated celebrity can get bored preparing for the same role for months on end. To keep it interesting, I like to train the actor in the same way their character would train. For example, if the character is a warrior and wields a big sword that they pull from behind them, a lot of our training will be pulling weights from behind their shoulders. This not only helps them prepare for the character, but keeps it more interesting than basic shoulder exercises. Though most of us aren’t training for warrior roles on a daily basis, it helps to vary your training and keep it interesting and specific to your interests. Many people find that they push themselves harder on a hike than on a treadmill because the hike stimulates more of their senses and keeps their mind off the actual workout.
3. Strengthen the core (and stretch!). Preparing an actor for a role in a movie gets tricky because no two days are the same. One day they could be in a fight scene, the next day they could have a car crash scene and the third day they could have a shirtless scene. What I’ve done to prepare these actors for any role is to make sure that they focus on strengthening their core and stretching to ensure there are no potential issues for injuries that could hold up the shoot. I would recommend that anyone incorporate core strengthening moves into their workout routine and always remember to stretch. Though stretching is something that we tend to forget, that five- or 10-minute stretch could be the difference between a great workout and a pulled hamstring (or other issue).
4. Manage stress with healthy snacks. When stress builds up in our bodies, we often use food to give us a momentary reprieve. I always make sure my clients have healthy snacks to grab when they need to lower their stress levels or simply grab a bite to eat between takes. I recommend grabbing almonds as a delicious and healthy snack for when you’re on the go or, if you have more time, making a small salad with olive oil, avocado and sliced almonds.
5. Create positive associations. A trick that I like to use with all my clients is associating any discomfort you experience while challenging the body with a positive association. For example, if the actor is doing squats, their body will send signals of discomfort to stop. The body does this because it wants to conserve energy and prevent what it thinks is damage to the muscle tissue. I tell my clients to associate the burn in their glutes with the idea of stronger glutes instead of simply discomfort due to exercise. Once the client recognizes the discomfort as a good thing, they’re more likely to take on the challenge versus shying away from it.
Kind of cool to know that the next time you’re hitting that deep squat and using that positive association trick, you’re basically being just like Captain Kirk, right? —Kristen