How does celebrity PT Kathy Kaehler keep her A-list clients including Drew Barrymore, Michelle Pfeiffer, Julia Roberts and Jennifer Aniston in shape? We found out
The list of celebrities that personal trainer and health coach Kathy Kaehler has worked with is about as exhausting to run through as one of her workout sessions – women like Drew Barrymore, Michelle Pfeiffer, Julia Roberts and Jennifer Aniston top the list. And although these days, the celeb trainer spends more time talking on her radio show than pushing people in a gym, her days of motivating clients are far from behind her. Trading in the trainers for a mobile phone and an arsenal of knowledge of all things health and fitness, she now works as a consultant, speaking with people all over the world and helping them to reach their health and fitness goals.
I want my body to be back where it was but I have to be patient and let myself heal
Kaehler turned to the telephone when hip replacement surgery caused her to have to take a break from personal training, ‘because I want my body to be back where it was but I have to be patient and let myself heal,’ explained Kaehler. ‘I was an athlete so I was in sport throughout all of my life. I ran track, basketball, volleyball. It was a big part of my life to be active.’
Nowadays, Kaehler loves to swim, ride her bike and strength train using weights. We quizzed the trainer on her fitness philosophy and the workouts she used to keep the stars in shape.
Q. What is your most reliable type of exercise for all round fitness?
I think walking is the best way to stay in shape for life. It’s easy, you can do it anywhere, you can do it alone or with someone. All you need are good shoes, you can even do it when you’re on vacation. You can make it hard or even harder than that. A routine of walking after every meal to help digestion is my favourite habit.
Q. What is your favourite fat-busting exercise and why?
Lifting weights. Believe it or not, when you lift weights you lose weight. It helps with building up your metabolism and making it rev more. A lot of the time people think that if they just do cardio they’ll lose weight and their legs will get tight or their butt will lift but unfortunately, that’s not the case. You really need to add in the weight training to put resistance on the muscle and get that body to change.
Q. Any other exercises we need to know about?
When I worked with Drew Barrymore for Charlie’s Angels we did a lot of cross-training. I had her doing sprints on a tennis court, jump rope, weights, balance, Pilates, and of course my signature playing card lunge routine.
This is when you take cards in your hand and when you lunge you lunge forward and put cards on the ground so it just gets you lower to the floor, it’s just a bit of fun and makes your lunges deeper.
Q. Sounds fun! So how often should we be lifting weights?
Every other day. You can lift free weights at a gym but also resistance training, so that means exercises using your own bodyweight, work just as well. Then ideally you’d do a combination – giving your body a good variety of exercise is really important.
Q. What ratio of cardio : weights do you advise?
If you look at the week there are seven days. Set aside one day for a true rest. The rest of the days you should do something everyday that gets your heart rate up, something where you feel a little panting, a little sweat. So it could be a walk, an exercise class, riding a bike, swimming or dancing. It could be hiking or cross-country skiing – there are so many things that can get your heart rate up.
I know from personal experience with my double hip replacement recovery that when you stop exercising it is very hard to get back
Out of those six, you have three days you’re going to do your strength training. It could be at the gym with the weight machines, it could be with the dumbbells in your house. It could be all body weights so doing squats and lunges and push ups and pull ups and planks – all of those kinds of things that are putting resistance on that muscle.
It’s a very easy way to split up the week. So you’re going to move six days, you’re going to lift three days and you’re going to rest one.
Q. What is your philosophy when it comes to keeping fit?
Use it or lose it. I know from personal experience with my double hip replacement recovery that when you stop exercising it is very hard to get back. Do something physically active every day, rain or shine. The reality is when you stop exercising your body really does start to fall into a place where it’s not as efficient. It puts you at risk to many different things from disease to functionality.
Q. How can we keep ourselves motivated when we don’t want to workout?
No one ever regrets working out. You may kick and scream when you’re going but when you leave, you always feel better. I’ve never met anyone who’s said ‘Eurgh I wish I’d never worked out.’ I always tell people don’t wait. Don’t wait until it’s too late. Even though our bodies are resilient and we’ve seen people in their late 80s have muscle gains and have their bodies turn around – why go through that?
I don’t like the word diet because the first 3 letters tell you what it will do…DIE
It’s a mood booster, it will improve the quality of your life, it will reduce risk of disease, for me its such a no brainer – how would you not exercise?
Q. What diet do you typically follow?
I don’t like the word diet because the first three letters tell you what it will do…DIE. So I like lifestyle eating. I always say eat most of your food in it’s natural state – raw. That way you’ll get more fruits and veggies. Beautiful plates of fruit, bowls of salad filled with all kinds of coloured vegetables, gazpacho soups – there are so many ways to use foods in their natural state. And then when you do eat cooked foods make sure that you can tell, even after its cooked what that food is in its original state.
Q. Are there any foods you limit or eat more of?
Stay away from processed foods, things that have been manipulated and anything that you don’t understand what the ingredients are whether that’s preservatives or chemicals or dyes. Eating real, whole foods is the best, truly the best. I just think it’s the safer, more efficient, more nutritious way to go.
Q. But do you have a favourite cheat meal?
Oh, I love bread really good bread and really good European cheese. It isn’t really a cheat meal it’s just what I crave and love and will have it in moderation, for sure once a week if not twice. I also look at the quality, I pick European cheeses for a reason – they are always from cows that have not been grain-fed, they’ve been grass-fed and they don’t have the antibiotic injections, it’s a natural food.
And I’m not going to have a piece of bread that is just a random piece of bread. I seek out good bakeries. And ones that use really good and high-quality ingredients and so that’s when it becomes more of an intentional desire to have something good and that you’re conscious about it.
It’s about a lifetime of making good choices in what we eat and how we move our bodies.
Q. We are totally on board with bread and cheese but what about chocolate? Don’t you have a sweet tooth?
I LOVE chocolate but for me, it comes back to quality. Having a Hershey bar or a Snickers or a Milky Way – those are just junk. But Belgian chocolate or dark, dark German chocolate is another story. I don’t have it every day but I do love that. I’ll have it but I’m also going to take a walk and I’m active and I’m eating fruit and vegetables. It’s about looking at the whole picture.
Q. What do most of us get wrong when we aren’t seeing results?
People give up too soon, it takes time. It’s about a lifetime of making good choices in what we eat and how we move our bodies. We can’t compare ourselves to other people because everyone’s body responds differently. It’s truly more of making it a lifetime journey. We have to give our bodies time to change and react and it might be slower for some people and it might be quicker for some.
Stay on course, keep doing what you’re doing and sometimes you realise it’s time to change. You become acclimated toward what you’re doing and so sometimes you might need to work out a little harder or try a different class, your routine might need some tweaking.
Don’t judge yourself too harshly and just be grateful you have a body.
Q. Is it possible to get a celebrity’s body?
I love this question as I can be simple and say no because we can’t exchange bodies. However, we can make our bodies be the best they can be. I really think that it starts with attitude and not comparing yourself to anyone else. Don’t judge yourself too harshly and just be grateful you have a body. Feel blessed that you are able to make some changes and try and improve where you are. Keeping your mind in a positive state is so important.
Kathy Kaehler is one of the most sought-after health and fitness experts in the world. Kathy is also an internationally recognised celebrity personal trainer. Some of her big name clients have been Michelle Pfeiffer, Julia Roberts, Kim Basinger and Jennifer Aniston. Kathy is sought out as an expert in healthy living by major corporations like PepsiCo, Proctor and Gamble and many more.
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