Last year while Fifty Shades Darker was filming in Vancouver, fitness trainer and former NFL cheerleader Ramona Braganza trained stars Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan inside a trailer, working individually with each on specially crafted fitness programs four to six times a week, often at the crack of dawn.
The stars were in great shape, of course, with toned bodies, but in Braganza’s view, they both fell short in the leg department, which she describes as “the body’s powerhouse.”
And while Johnson was already fit and slim, working to shape and strengthen her legs helped to fine-tune the toned look the star needed for Fifty Shades Darker, which opened on Friday, and for her role as a ballet dancer in her next film, Suspiria, which also stars Chloë Grace Moretz and Tilda Swinton.
If the stars aren’t doing enough, then the rest of us are more than likely doing even less, Braganza says. And that means our fitness regimes aren’t truly doing our bodies a real favor.
“Our legs drive our bodies, and yet so many of us overlook them because training your legs is painful, both emotionally and physically,” Braganza says. “To really achieve your training goals, though, you need to step outside your comfort zone, push yourself. Training our legs, which are such an essential part of our bodies, and keeping them strong makes us so much more empowered.”
Braganza created individual leg workouts for both Fifty Shades stars. She worked with Dornan twice a week on his legs, using heavy weights and incorporating squats, lunges, and dead lifts to release testosterone and promote lean muscle growth all over his body.
Braganza worked with Johnson on her legs every day to increase Johnson’s flexibility, speed up her metabolism, and promote weight loss.
Beginning with yoga pose Downward-Facing Dog — a perfect move to warm up, lengthen, strengthen, and stretch, Braganza says, and a personal favorite of Johnson’s — the workout, outlined below, included a series of moves designed to strengthen, lengthen, and shape the legs and glutes.
1. Warm up with Downward-Facing Dog
This is a great lengthening and strengthening move.
Begin on all fours in a tabletop position. Tuck your toes under, and press into your hands as you begin to lift your hips up to the ceiling, forming an inverted V. To align this posture correctly, press into the hands, and extend your hips up and back as you straighten your legs and attempt to get your heels down. Breathe while in this posture, hold for a minute or more, and then come back down to the tabletop position. Repeat this two to three times.
2. Train your legs and glutes to increase your metabolism and get toned
Johnson wanted lean, toned legs and shapely glutes, so Braganza included the following exercises. Her tip: “Make sure that throughout the move, you focus your energy on reaching the limbs as far away from body.”
Once Johnson was able to reach this extension, Braganza added 2-pound ankle weights, thereby speeding up the toning effect.
Side-lying leg raise, small circles, alphabet in the air
Lie on your side propped up on your elbow with your legs extended and stacked on top of each other. Place your top hand on the ground to keep your body steady, and raise your top leg 6-8 inches off the ground, with your foot flexed and leg outstretched and begin the following sequence:
1) Make 32 tiny pulses upward with your top leg (4 counts of 8 if counting to music).
2) Make small circles, alternating forward and then backward, for 32 counts (8 each way).
3) Trace the entire alphabet with the top leg.
Inner thigh bonus
Lying on the same side, lengthen your bottom leg, and cross your top leg over it, placing your foot or knee on the ground.
1) Lift and lower the bottom leg, making 32 small pulses (4 counts of 8 ).
2) Make 32 small circles with the same leg (8 counts each way).
3. Zero in on glutes
1) Roll over onto all fours, and press the same leg that was on top up to the ceiling with your foot flexed. Lower your leg down to touch your knee to the ground, then press back up for 32 counts (4 counts of 8).
2) Follow with a hamstring curl of the same leg by bending the knee, bringing the foot to touch the glutes then extending back. Repeat this 32 times.
4. Finish with a pigeon stretch, extending the worked leg behind you.
Get the Scoop on the Trailer that Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan trained in for ‘Fifty Shades’
Heiress Criticized for Breastfeeding Toddler
This Photo-Editing App Transforms Breastfeeding Pictures Into Digital Artwork