When it comes to the fit and athletic women of Hollywood, few truly impress me as much as Halle Berry. Take one look at her Instagram and it's clear: the woman works.
Perhaps the most admirable thing about her workout ethic, though, is her perspective on her next-level fitness: she's not in it for the six-pack. Whether on social media or in the columns she's written for Women's Health, Berry shares that her main focus is taking care of her health and being as strong as possible in every way, both for herself and her children. The abs? They're just a bonus.
Inspired by the 53-year-old's fit philosophy (and yes, okay, her abs, too), I decided to try her routine out for myself. Luckily, she's not one to keep her workout secrets all to herself.
Berry takes a kitchen sink approach to working out; she literally does it all. Though she typically only has time for four full-on workout sessions per week (at least one of which is often just 20 minutes or so long), she incorporates everything from strength training to yoga to skipping.
Eager to mix up my own routine, I channelled my inner Halle for a week—and though I may not have come out of it with her abs, I sweated (and learned) a lot:
Balance really is key
In true Halle Berry fashion, I set out to conquer four solid—and unique—workout sessions for my little experiment: her go-to 20-minute workout, an intense full-body strength-training challenge she wrote about for Women's Health recently, a long yoga session, and a skipping rope burner devised by her trainer Peter Lee Thomas.
Conquering four workouts for the week felt totally realistic — and I appreciated the variety.
Berry's 20-minute workout — a fast circuit of moves like mountain climbers with sit-outs (see my video attempt below) and plié squats — coincided with a busy, deadline-filled day when a full hour-long workout just didn't feel realistic. It left me sweating and feeling smugly accomplished.
Exercise does your mind just as good as it does your body
For my second workout, I was ready for a little active recovery. A good yoga practice always reminds me that movement is about so much more than burning calories or building a particular muscle—and I have no doubt that Berry's regular yoga practice helps her keep both her mind and body right.
Making time to turn inward and slow down amidst a hectic schedule and otherwise-heart-pumping workouts helped me feel grounded and at peace, and physically and mentally strong.
I followed along with a 30-minute Peloton yoga video to get the full effect, but Berry says she feels better after even just a few minutes of stretching or child's pose.
Something else working out like Halle taught me? You don't have to lift heavy weights to feel the burn
A long-time fan of anything involving a barbell, my routine hasn't consisted of much light-weight/high-rep work in years — but Berry may have once again made me a believer.
I went into her two-move, strength-training challenge workout a little overconfident. However, as I slowly descended the long ladder of lunges (wearing a booty band, might I add) with bicep curls and squats with overhead presses — basically, you start with 40 lunges and 20 squats and repeat, slowly slicing off reps until you get down to zero — the fire in my muscles put me in my place. I think I did 200 lunges — and, believe me, I felt them the next morning.
I used a single 15-pound dumbbell for the workout (a far cry from my usual barbell) and halfway through the workout, I realised even half the weight would have absolutely crushed me.
By the end, my legs quivered with every rep—and I was sore for not one, not two, but THREE days afterwards.
I needed to let my legs recover because my last workout was skipping
Never much of a skipper back in my blacktop days, this was the only workout of Berry's that I was truly nervous about: her 1,500-rotation jump-rope challenge.
Halle describes skipping as a Zen, in-the-zone experience. She finds her rhythm and just jumps and jumps... and jumps. As a result, she cranks out 1,500 rotations in just about 15 minutes.
I don't think I've ever made it through more than 20 rotations at a time without tripping over myself or somehow entangling my ponytail in the rope, so I thought 1,500 skips would probably take me about an hour.
In the end, I completed my skips in about 25 minutes. At first, I could get through 10 at a time; but towards the end, I think I entered Berry's skipping zone. Once I found my groove, momentum kept me going. (At one point, I hit 47 consecutive rotations).
Halle Berry is officially my new favourite fitness influencer
After a week of working out like her, I fully understand why Berry stays so committed to her fitness. Mixing it up is fun. And framing workouts as challenges? The competitive vibes made me feel like an athlete again.
Most of all, though, the actress' routine struck me as sustainable. By striking the perfect balance of different types of training and just the right level of intensity (plus, of course, her truly health-oriented motivations), Berry has found a way to somehow get fitter and fitter as she gets older —and you'd better believe I'll be taking a page out of that book.
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