Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan were looking in incredible shape at the new Fifty Shades Freed premiere. Healthista’s Amanda Lundgren spoke exclusively to their on-set their trainer, Ramona Braganza, who shares Dakota’s 25 minute workout
When it comes to being naked on screen, you have to look good, well, everywhere. It’s a daunting and difficult feat, but Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan have managed to achieve it for the past three years of their Fifty Shades of Grey career. The pair look hot and fit throughout all of those steamy sex scenes in the new and third film, Fifty Shades Freed, which, according to Johnson, require quite a bit of stamina. We spoke with Ramona Braganza, Johnson and Dornan’s on-set trainer, about how she kept the stars in peak form.
Q: How often did you train Johnson and Dornan?
A: I trained them when they arrived in Vancouver for a total of five months. It was to film both [50 Shades] Darker and [50 Shades] Freed, so we did both movies back to back. I worked out with Jamie once or twice a week, and with Dakota, I would work out with her four times a week. Dakota’s workouts were about 40 minutes, and same for Jamie. They worked out separately and at different times in their day whenever their schedule freed up. For the most part, Jamie worked out before his filming day, and Dakota would work out more after the end of shooting.
For the most part, Jamie worked out before his filming day, and Dakota would work out more after the end of shooting.
Q: What kind of athletic builds were desired for Anastasia and Christian?
A: Christian Grey is a businessman but has a lot of free time, I think. Jamie actually trains on his own continuously for all of his stuff, so when he showed up, he was very close to what the producers imagined Christian Grey to be. Dakota had been training a month before in New York City with a trainer, and I got some guidance on what she wanted, which was to remain as graceful and long-limbed and lean. With Dakota, she’s very lean anyhow. She’s such a graceful, lean looking woman, and I just kind of accented that because that’s really what Anastasia is like. She’s a college girl; she’s not a gym rat.
Q: What specific moves and exercises did you do with Johnson?
A: Dakota was already was fairly lean, so it’s not like there was weight to lose. She wanted to be more toned, and for toning, you definitely need resistance. You also need to just do it the right amount of time and intensity. Normally when I get an actress and she has to bulk up for a role, I’ll use my traditional weight program.
But with Dakota, I adjusted it to be more body weight and light weights, not much more than five pounds of weight, with more reps and intensity. That weight may not be light for some people, but holding them for a longer period of time trains the muscles, rather than tears them.
Dakota did hot yoga on her own twice a week, and my strength training four times a week
It was more of a dancer type approach that I used. Much of our warm up was stretching, all dance-related. Then we would go down onto the floor and do more of the body strength—walking planks and things like that. Then we would go on to abs, which was more pilates-based. Then we would end up doing legs, which was a lot of the lying down leg stuff. Sometimes we would do a circuit that I would put together with a band for back exercises and posture because posture is really important.
She did hot yoga on her own twice a week, and my strength training four times a week. Towards the end, she did a lot of her own cardio on the treadmill, and she had a ballet coach that came the last month to prep her for her next movie.
We have to keep the intensity up to at least 75 per cent. It’s much better to do shorter and faster workouts
After five months of filming you’re exhausted, so we had to introduce some fun ways to keep it going. On our trailer, we had things like a punching bag and reformer Pilates chair. If you are able to combine different exercises you will challenge the body, too. One day might be bodyweight, another light weights and another day heavy weights. As long as you are training to a good intensity in various forms, it will be effective.
When I’m on set with an actor who doesn’t have more than half an hour we have to keep the intensity up to at least 75 per cent. It’s much better to do shorter and faster workouts than if you’re at the gym mostly walking around and talking, hardly moving your body.
Q: What specific moves and exercises did you do with Dornan?
Jamie has his own upper body program. I usually find that when [my clients] look great, and they feel like they’re maintaining it, I don’t come and mess with it. I just let them do it. But I often see men not doing legs, and legs are so vital. Training Hugh Jackman heavy on legs gave him mass all over, so I know that works. Training Jamie’s legs was the one thing I was gonna make sure that we did at least once or twice a week because it made a difference in the long run on how lean he looked.
Training Jamie’s legs once or twice a week made a difference in the long run on how lean he looked.
The warm up can include everything from jump rope or plyometrics, anything that involves jumping. They don’t have a ton of time, so you have to keep it on-track. So, five to ten minutes of warming up. We did heavy squats with a barbell—the goal was to do six sets. Squats are what’s going to target the quads and the hamstrings. That’s the part of the leg he wanted to work. He has great calves already, so the goal was to increase the mass on the top part of the legs. And then the glutes fire at the same time. We also did deadlifts, lunges and step ups. Ideally, what you want to do is progress to single-leg exercises if there’s time permitting. It’s just a combination of making sure you attack the legs at least twice a week to see a benefit, and then I would also do abs with him.
Q: Did you work with Johnson and Dornan on their diets as well?
A: I didn’t have to because they seemed to have a good knowledge of it. I suggested a little more protein for Jamie and ways to get more protein intake. Dakota had a food delivery service that she was comfortable with. They pretty much followed the principles that I speak about in my 3-2-1 nutrition plan. It’s just proportions, when to eat, smaller meals and more meals. If you’re thinking breakfast, complex carbs like oatmeal and a poached egg are great. [I recommend] leaner meat and fish, salads, and definitely eating in a way that the food is grilled, not fried. Every now and then, you have that glass of wine, but you’re not drinking a bottle of wine every night. You have to just moderate yourself.
I suggested a little more protein for Jamie. Dakota had a food delivery service that she was comfortable with
Q: What does your 3-2-1 training method entail?
A: It’s the way I train most of my jobs on movies. It began when I worked with Jessica Alba. We would have 20 minutes to work out, so we began to intersperse the strength training. We would do one or two or three minutes of cardio, and then we would go right to a circuit of three exercises in a row. Then we would go back to cardio, back to circuit, back to cardio and finish with core. So you end up having, in 20 minutes, a workout for everything. It’s also how I define rules to eat healthy. So things like having three meals a day, two snacks and a minimum of 1 litre of water a day. It’s also my fitness philosophy. 3-2-1 is like getting ready for a race. It’s getting ready mentally, get set physically and then go forward emotionally. It’s the way I attack anything in my life.
3-2-1 is like getting ready for a race. It’s getting ready mentally, get set physically and then go forward emotionally. It’s the way I attack anything in my life.
Q: Tell me more about your “catsuit” tactic. What is a catsuit? How can an item of clothing impact one’s lifestyle when it comes to health and fitness?
A: The catsuit is your favourite pair of jeans, or it’s your bikini, or it’s my Raiders [cheerleading] outfit. With Dakota and Jamie, it’s having to get naked in front of the camera. You want to feel comfortable when you do that. It’s about having enough time ahead of time to get ready for it and making a plan. If you’re on a vacation and you’re wearing a bathing suit for ten days straight, I don’t think you’d party as hard. Your cheat moments become a lot less.
Much of it is in your mind and your own control. It’s a decision you make on whether you want to just throw in the towel or you want to keep your health and your fitness levels at a certain place for your whole life. It becomes a lifestyle change. It’s something that requires discipline and moderation.
Q: What’s one piece of advice you give all of your clients?
A: Enjoy the journey. We take things too seriously sometimes, whether it’s fitness or a movie role or listening to politics all day. We need to just enjoy the journey and experience it all and do the best we can.
Dakota Johnson’s 25 minute workout
‘This workout focuses on posture to give height/length on camera, shaping the shoulders and arms and accentuating a small, tight waist’, says Ramona. ‘It uses the 321 Training Method with cardio and circuit segments and intervals of fast and slow push pull movements to keep intensity. For example, with the rower, the push movement is moving forwards, and the pull phase is rowing backwards.’
The workout without repeating circuits is roughly 25 minutes.
Warm up – 2 minutes easy row
Rowing intervals. 5 minutes. Use resistance of at least 80 per cent (moderate). Increase intensity by pushing and pulling harder. Don’t worry too much about the speed and keep form. OR running intervals. 30 seconds sprint. 30 seconds rest. Repeat 5 times
Without equipment, dancing in place or do intervals going up and down the stairs in your home for 5 minutes. Or jumprope for 3 minutes (because it is harder).
Circuit 1 – back and shoulders
Using light weights of 3-5 pounds
- Reverse fly – 10 reps with right leg forward and 10 reps with left leg forward.
Start by take a giant step forward with one leg and hinge forward at the hips holding dumbbells. Arms hang below your chest, head looks slightly down and in front of forward leg. Continue to hinge forward at the waist as you fift arms to almost parallel by squeezing shoulder blades together, pause at the top then lower slowly.
- Half circle over head – 8 reps
Begin by standing tall arms by side holding dumbells palms forward. Raise arms in half circle to touch at the top, slowly lower back to start.
- Hug a tree – 8 reps
Begin standing tall arms by side holding dumbells palms forward. Raise arms half way parallel to shoulders then, as if hugging a tree, move arms slightly rounded and forward infront of chest to touch knuckles. Pause and return by oening arms back to parallel and lower.
- Lateral Raises – 8 reps
Begin standing tall, with arms by your sides holding dumbbells, palms facing toward thighs. Raise your arms to the sides as you simultaneously rotate the heads of the dumbbells to face the ground. Imagine holding a jug of water and pouring out the water as you raise arms.
Pause at the top, then lower slowly.
- Wall Flatteners – 20 reps
Stand with your back against a wall, knees slightly bent, arms at 90 degrees against the wall.
Keep wrists and elbows against the wall and raise them six inches straight up, then lower to start.
Repeat circuit 2-3 times.
Rowing or running intervals.
Circuit 2 – abs and triceps
Using light weights of 3-5 pounds
- Lying Leg and Triceps Extension – 20 reps
Lie on your back with your knees in tabletop, abs contracted, belly button pulled in. Hold your dumbbells in your hands with palms facing each other, elbows bent (make sure to not move your arms as you do this move). On an exhale, extend your legs on an angle (keep them higher if your back is weak, or reach your legs lower to the ground if you have stronger abs). Simultaneously perform a triceps extension by raising the dumbbells up toward the ceiling. Inhale, and lower arms back to start as you release legs back to tabletop.
- Oblique rotation – 10 reps
Begin sitting with your legs extended with a slight knee bend, holding dumbbells in each hand and arms extended forward. Lean back, keeping your abs contracted, and avoid a rounded back. Leading with your right arm, rotate to the right as far as you can, then back to center. Rotate to the left as far as you can, then back to center. Complete the move by sitting up tall, simultaneously raising both arms above the head.
- Walking Plank – 20 reps
Begin at the top of push-up, and lower onto your right forearm. Then, lower onto your left forearm. Here you’ll be in elbow plank position. Push up onto your right palm, then push up onto your left palm, ending up in high plank (top of a push-up). Repeat right-left-right-left for 10 reps, then try left-right-left-right for 10 more walking planks.
Repeat circuit 2-3 times
Rowing or running intervals
Circuit 3 – core
- Side plank rotation with hip lift – 10 reps on each side.
Begin in a side plank, holding a dumbbell in your top hand, arm extended upward. Rotate toward the mat as you lower your arm, and reach it beneath your body while lifting your hips as high as you can.
Repeat once more.
About: Ramona has had a lifetime spent in fitness as a competitive gymnast, NFL cheerleader, fitness contestant, model and wellness coach. The global fitness expert has trained Hollywood A-List clients including Jessica Alba, Halle Berry, Kate Beckinsale, Anne Hathaway, Scarlett Johansson, Zac Efron, Ryan Reynolds, Tom Welling, Michael Weatherly and many more with her 3-2-1 philosophy.