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Celebrity workouts have long been hailed as the pièce de résistance of sweat sessions.
So when the opportunity to workout with personal trainer Luke Worthington, who trains everyone from celebrity royalty like Jodie Comer, Dakota Johnson and Winnie Harlow, to the West End casts of Tina and Hairspray, I leapt at the chance.
Tried and Tested is my bi-monthly feature franchise that sees me try all the latest health and fitness trends and must-try workouts. I’ve tested everything, from probiotic supplements, to Gareth Bale’s rowing class, Rowbots, to strength training for running. Next up? Training like a celeb.
Heading to Marylebone, where Worthington is based at AMP Training, I was:
a. slightly anxious
b. very curious. I weight train regularly, once learning to deadlift twice my bodyweight for a Women’s Health feature, but was curious to see if being put through my paces by a celebrity PT would would be so next level I’d be struggling to walk for days to come.
I also had loads of questions for Worthington. Was there a secret to celebrity success? Is there one workout that’s considered the ‘best’? And should everyone try this style of training at some point in their lives? He answered all of this and more and, actually, the answers were not what I was expecting. Keep scrolling.
First up, a bit of background about Worthington. He’s well known in the industry for his no-nonsense, aligned approach to fitness. Coined the ‘Body Engineer’, his method focuses on optimising your athletic performance by biomechanics: simply put, he examines how your body is working before launching into a plan that doesn’t take into account your strengths and weaknesses.
All sounds rather fancy, but in practice, isn’t. When I arrive at the studio, he kicks off the session by doing a quick body analysis, examining my muscle strengths, weaknesses and imbalances. Interestingly, he flags that my left hamstring is weaker than my right, which he then does a few drills on.
Naturally, I start quizzing him about the calibre of his celebrity clients – he trains a lot – and what their workout routines look like. “As with any client, the role of the trainer is to help the client get from A to B,” explains Worthington. “Point B will be the specific aesthetic or performance based goal you are trying to achieve, and Point A is your current fitness level.”
The main difference with a celebrity project? Most are for specific roles, events or shoots. “This means there is a hard stop on the time frame and also visibility of the end result,” he shares. “We have to get it right when the whole world is watching.”
Starting to take me through the kind of workout Comer or Johnson may do – a full body workout combining mobility, strength and movement based activities, including several tri-sets (mini circuits) consisting of one lower body, one upper body, and one core exercise per circuit – Worthington explains that each and every celebrity routine is different.
However, this circuit approach to strength training, complemented with mobility and a good stretch at the end of the session, is his go-to for quick results.
“This is fairly typical of the sort of plan I would put together when we are training to create quite rapid changes in body composition and create a toned athletic look whilst still maintaining or improving movement ability,” he explains.
Why so? Because working in a circuit allows you to keep the speed up while also pushing your body to max capacity via a phenomena known as venous shunt.
“When you move quickly from an upper body to a lower body exercise and back again, your cardiovascular system has to quickly move oxygenated blood from one end of the body to the other,” explains Worthington. “This means it has to work hard. Designing workouts in this way means we can get a cardiovascular training benefit at the same time as doing our resistance training – which is ideal for getting results quickly.”
Finishing the hour-long workout, I can feel I’ve pushed myself – my sweaty brow is a solid reminder – but it’s a good kind of burn, not dissimilar to that of Pilates. It’s not the hardest workout I’ve ever done, but I can feel I’ve used plenty of muscles that likely haven’t been activated in a long time.
The most important lesson I took from the session wasn’t how to train, or how many workouts a week to be squeezing in: rather, that as I thought, working out what workout works for you and your lifestyle is key to achieving best results.
Worthington and I discussed at depth how unattainable certain celebrity workout routines are. Only last week Adele shared with Vogue that she’s been working out up to three times a week, a schedule that’s both unhealthy and unrealistic for most people.
As Worthington stresses, following a training plan that has been developed specifically for someone else is rarely a great idea. “It’s fine to use them as inspiration, but you have to keep in mind that with an actor or a model their body is quite literally their livelihood,” he explains.
Most celebrities have time specifically set aside in their daily routines purely to workout. “With actors preparing for specific roles, it isn’t uncommon for periods of time to be set aside purely for physical preparation,” explains the PT. “This means that all they have to worry about is training, nutrition and recovery, very much like a professional athlete.”
Bottom line: Most celebrities have PTs on hand to programme their training and similarly, don’t have to balance work, family and social commitments alongside it, so trying to workout like one isn’t the wisest.
Worthington’s advice is to consider your own goals, timescales, abilities and motivations before you kick off any training plan. If you don’t and just copy and paste someone else’s, not only is it likely that you’ll lack exercise motivation, but you’ll probably end up skipping workouts altogether, soon.
The key to a consistent and sustainable workout routine is taking the time to find a sport or workout class that works for you, around your life, and around your schedule. “A training plan should fit the client, not the other way around,” concludes Worthington.