Nearly 20 years ago, I had the pleasure of transforming the incredible Halle Berry into Catwoman. Fresh off of her Oscar win, I found myself tasked with turning the fittest, most beautiful woman in Hollywood into an even fitter version of herself. Talk about pressure!
We started training for the movie Catwoman while she was on the set of another film. The hours were incredibly long, and the work was exhausting. To save time, we decided that we’d schedule workouts during her lunch breaks, Monday through Friday. That meant I had 30 minutes to get Hallie from trailer to toned and then back in the hair-and-makeup chair. How did she work up a fast, effective sweat? With my 5-phase, 25-minute workout.
Phase 1: Warm-Up
Warm-ups are often overlooked, but they shouldn’t be. They’re Phase 1 of getting fit. Each workout I put together for Halle started with a five-minute cardio warm-up. The method would vary. Sometimes we’d go for a walk or jog; other times we’d jump rope or use the elliptical. In addition to being a physical-and-mental buffer from everything Halle had done during the day up to that point, the warm-up also increased circulation and the temperature of her muscles and joints, which helps to reduce chance of injury.
Phase 2, Phase 3, and Phase 4: Work Out!
Circuit work and high-intensity interval training are key for getting fit when you’re tight on time. Not only are circuits a great way to get your heart pumping, but by amping up the intensity for short bursts before resting for longer periods, they also help you burn more fat and calories while allowing you to preserve muscle mass. Best of all, they can be done with little-to-no equipment.
When I trained Halle, the first exercise (Phase 2) we did usually focussed on a torso body part such as the rhomboids, lats, or shoulders. The second exercise (Phase 3) was arms or legs, and the third exercise (Phase 4) was usually a core movement. For each exercise, I’d have her perform 4 sets of 20 reps. Want some specific moves to try? Check out this heart-pumping workout and this total-body blaster.
Phase 5: Cardio Finisher
I’d always have Halle finish with a five-minute cardio burst. The pace would be slightly more intense than that of the initial warm-up. While the cardio warm-up might have been speed walking, for example, the closer could be a jog.
The goal for Phase 5 is to get your heart rate high enough that it would stay elevated for 10 to 15 minutes after you’ve completed the workout. This afterburn effect can help your body burn extra calories for up to 48 hours afterwards.
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