The Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show is headed to London this season, and in anticipation for the December 9th spectacular, a group of Angels recently participated in a grueling 5-hour-a-day boxing boot camp in Mexico.
The program is the brainchild of former pro boxer and owner of New York City’s Aerospace High Performance Center, Michael Olajide, Jr. and his former ballet-dancing partner, Leila Fazel. Olajide, who’s famous for training supermodel Iman and for getting Adriana Lima’s post-baby body in tip-top shape in just eight weeks, came up with the idea to create a model boxing camp out of his own experience.
“When I was a fighter that’s what we did. We’d go away and train for a solid month and get in shape for a fight,” Olajide tells Yahoo Style. “This is similar because I thought it would be a great idea to give the girls a jump start for the fashion show. I know they want to get in shape and the best way for anyone to do that is to take time off and refocus and recalibrate.”
It’s no wonder that the girls are training early with the intense scrutiny that goes into selecting each Angel. Last year, the brand’s casting director described the process to Vogue UK: “It’s really quite terrifying for them,” confided Sophia Neophitou-Apostolou. “The final decision is made by the whole team, sitting at this long table in a room with really harsh lighting and they have to walk towards us and away from us. They all have to do it — even the contracted girls — and it’s incredibly nerve-wracking for them.”
The models (including newcomers Kelly Gale, Mathilde Frachon, and Emanuela De Paula) engaged in four full days of highly physical training that covers yoga, boxing, and sculpting. The girls were provided with meals — high protein and minimal carbs, — to ensure that they get the best results.
Model Mathilde Frachon agreed that getting away helps her concentration, even if she is permanently in plank mode. “It’s not like working out in the city, it’s way more relaxing,” she says. “It’s like intense workout and then chill, intense workout and then chill. It’s really the perfect four days.”
The others took to Instagram to let the world in on the exclusive bootcamp with photos captioned: “work hard, let your hair down, jump in the water,” “it hurts but it works,” “the serene after the savage Aero3workout,” and “boxing in heaven.”
Of course not everyone can drop everything and hit the beach for serious cardio sessions. But according to New York City celebrity fitness expert Kira Stokes, there are more realistic and long-term methods for obtaining similar results.
“You have to find a modality of fitness that resonates with you, something that you enjoy,” Stokes tells Yahoo Style. “And be the ultimate cross trainer — you need a little bit of everything. But the one you give the most time and effort to should be fun and gratifying so as to make sure it becomes part of your routine.”
While Olajide says that “within a day or two, the girls’ bodies were changing definition,” he, too, understands that it’s not realistic for the layperson to jet off for a short period of time to reset and engage in week-long exercise programs.
“It’s a matter of the quality of the exercise then. You want to be able to have an routine that will tax you both cardiovascularly and muscularly. That’s the holy grail,” he says.
To sculpt the Angels’ bodies into long, lean physiques, Olajide swears by fast repetitions and shies away from movements that can potentially bulk-up his clients – i.e. squats, cycling with resistance, and heavy weights. His work builds endurance and strength without increasing size. The master sculptor offers five pearls of wisdom for those interested in kick-starting the quest to attaining a Victoria’s Secret Angel body:
1. Involve your mind. “I make the girls turn on their fighter minds,” he says. “The psychology of a fighter or a competitor is different than your day-to-day mental state. You have to go in with a goal and remind yourself of that goal every single day and every single moment you’re in it. If you can do that, you’ll be ahead of the game.”
2. Quit juicing. “I think juicing can be great, but I think juicing to the point that we juice is too much. Too much of a good thing is not good for you. A lot of the girls’ issues, when they have them, is holding onto water weight from salt or liquids,” Olajide explains. “If you’re juicing and not eating fibers that help fill you and give you substance so you can workout, you wont see the results you want.”
3. Get yourself a jump rope. “It’s the most effective, efficient exercise you can do and it burns fat everywhere all over the body. Wherever you want to tone, jump rope will do it.” Olajide recommends aiming for at least 127 jumps per minute. Or, if you’re feeling determined, try for 142 jumps per minute.
4. Consider your range of motion. “Whether it’s punching, running, or jumping, getting full range of motion is important, that way the body is moving the way it was meant to move,” he says. “With the girls, the punching drills I do involve a power punch. It’s not a short, tight combination. I have them go through the punch, like a pitcher would.” Pitchers load up from behind the shoulder and then their arms end up near their lower left knee. So they’re moving their arms across the body with a full range of motion, which tones and develops long, lean muscles.
5. It’s all about the speed. Like setting a goal challenges your mind, speed challenges your muscle, coordination, and reflexes. “When you’re working with speed, so much more is accomplished. So anything that requires speed is the best thing that you can do,” he says. “I do complex jump rope drills with the girls, complex boxing combinations, and one-leg squats. We do them all very fast because we are not looking to build thicker muscles, we are just looking to tone and define.”