Image Source: Getty / JEAN-BAPTISTE LACROIX
For some, Instagram is all about selfies and cat photos. For me, if I'm not stalking food accounts, I'm using the platform to check out fresh new workouts to add to my fitness regimen. I usually keep things pretty general — a mix of running or other cardio, strength training, or a boutique class here and there. But sometimes I need a little more inspiration to motivate myself.
Enter Halle Berry. The 51-year-old actress began a self-made Instagram #FitnessFridays program at the start of 2018. I came across her posts and was hooked — not only because of how descriptive they were, but because of who she was. I wanted to get Halle's toned abs, her glowing complexion, her dedication to fitness — so that's exactly what I set out to do.
I went all the way back to Halle's first post on Jan. 12, where she explained her inspiration for doing the program. It's pretty simple: everyone wants to know how she's stayed in such good shape all these years. Lucky for her, the star has a hot trainer who's gotten her into tip-top shape by showing her how to work out and eat right. I, on the other hand, am a party of one — and use minimal equipment to help me out.
I did the workouts over the course of a couple weeks, mixing them into my usual routine and sometimes repeating them to get stronger. One note: Halle adds some nutrition tips and explanations into her posts, but I simply followed her physical exercises — for now, at least. Read on for the recap.
The Plank Pull
The only thing more motivating than Halle's inspirational Instagram captions are the videos of her and her trainer actually doing the workouts. In one of her first posts, Halle's trainer shows us the "plank pull" — a stationary plank position with the additional bonus of grabbing something in front of you. Sounds easy enough, but the move really added extra burn.
I started with two sets of 10 and was pretty shaky throughout. The next time I tried the pull a couple days later, however, I was a little more stable and strong. The real appeal of this move is that it's compact enough to do right in your bedroom or living room, no matter how small.
On day two, I put my boxing gloves on just like Halle. By the looks of it, the actress does a mix of regular boxing and shadowboxing. First, since I didn't have a trainer to guide me through boxing moves, I sought help from some experts at Title Boxing Club. The way I saw it, if there was one of Halle's workouts I needed help and equipment for, it was this. The class I took was intense, to say the least. Though it wasn't my first boxing class, it was certainly the most useful. I properly learned how to jab, cross, pivot, and everything in between. Plus, I got extra squats, jumps, and crunches in, which are clearly part of Halle's routine as well.
Image Source: Nichole Fratangelo
A few days later, when the initial soreness wore off, I mirrored her trainer's shadowboxing moves. The first, punches with a sprawl, was a favourite for combining both arms and cardio. The second, punches with crunches, convinced me to only do sit-ups this way from now on. I did two sets of 10 for each exercise and found them fun and easy enough to add to my regular daily routine. I also loved Halle's suggestion to use water bottles or cans of soup for an added push if you don't happen to have free weights on hand.
Image Source: Nichole Fratangelo
"I workout, I feel like I can conquer the world," Halle writes on Instagram. At this point, that's what I felt like doing her workouts. They were fast, effective, and simple enough to follow. To build her "average butt," as Halle calls it, she uses a move called the "skyscraper." For this, I got a stack of towels and plopped down on my bedroom floor to lift my booty toward the ceiling. Two sets of 10 on each side did the trick for me to feel the burn the next day. The second move, which she called a "sit through," was a killer ab workout using just a towel. One thing I noticed during this one was the importance of breathing on the way up as your abs contracted.
Next, I worked on my push-up form, à la Halle, which was challenging for someone who has very little arm strength. Her trainer's "renegade row" move uses a classic push-up move with weights and a pull. Though I wasn't able to do a full push-up to the ground, I did two sets of 10 halfway. Then, for another two sets, I did the modified version on my knees. Halle says she uses 20 pounds, but I only had 5s, which were still challenging. A few weeks of this move, though, and I know I'll be able to work up to using heavier weights.
Image Source: Nichole Fratangelo
Yoga, Stretching, and Meditation
Last but certainly not least, Halle's workout routine focuses largely on mental health, the mind/body connection, and tiny moves with big impact. This area, more than others, is where I need the most guidance. I started with the actress's favourite yoga pose, the shoulder stand. Every morning, for five days, I rolled out of bed and onto the floor to do this, which completely jump-started my day. I also learned just how much my back and legs needed to be stretched, and I noticed I could lift my body higher each day.
I also focussed more on stretching overall — both in the morning and after workouts. Unfortunately, this was something I oftentimes neglected, but luckily Halle reiterated the importance of it for her followers. Her forward fold wasn't only the perfect, simple stretch for every muscle, but it gave me a quick moment to breathe and feel connected to my body each morning.
And speaking of feeling connected, Halle takes her #FitnessFridays so seriously that she actually goes upside down for them — in a handstand position, of course. This is certainly way too out of my league (for now), but I did follow Halle's wise words for meditation: "Many argue that some of the happiest people are those who spend time each day meditating. I can tell you that I've felt happier and more like my best self since I started." Every morning after I did the shoulder stand, I took a few minutes to sit cross-legged on my floor and just be — no moving, no humming, no nothing. I cleared my mind of everything, breathed, and felt lighter than I usually did on other days.
This, above all, was the most rewarding part of Halle's fitness tips. Though she has tons of moves to show us, her lengthy captions about connecting to your body and loving yourself, rather than focusing on inches on your waist, was refreshing and so important to hear from someone who's body is so enviable.