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How to get fit – Karen Gillan’s Jumanji PT reveals his top tips


Wondering how Karen Gillan got fit for Jumanji? We spoke to her personal trainer Scott Pearlman to learn his health and fitness secrets 

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle has just hit cinemas across the country and watching the trailer had us thinking two things. One, ‘I swear the last one didn’t come out that long ago?’ and two, ‘HOW does Karen Gillan look so fit?’ To answer your burning queries we can reveal that it has in fact been 12 years since the original film came out (eek!) and as for Karen Gillan, we sent the call out to Hawaii (where the movie was filmed) and got in touch with Scott Pearlman, Gillan’s trainer for the film.

Karen Gillan had her midriff out for most of the film so Pearlman had her doing lots of core based workouts

With 25 years in the fitness industry, the trainer specialises in group classes focused on fat burning workouts like boxing and HIIT. And with her midriff on show for the entire film, it’s no wonder she followed Pearlman’s advice offset. Here’s what the celebrity trainer had to say.

TRY: Healthista’s 30 day HIIT challenge here

Q. What is your most reliable go-to type of exercise?

I love the jump rope. The beauty is you can take it anywhere to get an effective fat burning and toning workout. I also like to incorporate rope skipping into my circuit training. I usually incorporate it into my interval routines. A great workout to do might be 15 push-ups, 25 lunges, 25 squats, one minute of rope skipping and then one minute rest – you should repeat that three times. Karen and I focused mostly on weight resistance and core training, we did lots of plank variations. She also attended several of my box-fit and HIIT training classes.

Q. What is your favourite fat- busting exercise and why?

Punching intervals on a heavy bag. It really spikes the heart rate, burns fat and effectively tones the arms and shoulders. Another advantage is that anyone can do it at any fitness level. Also, most people really enjoy it. It helps release tension that builds up from work and personal stresses.

Q. What ratio of cardio-weights do you advise?

That depends on the individual. I think it’s important to understand what you like and dislike and to pay attention to that, tailor the workout accordingly. The chances of your success will be slim if you don’t enjoy your workout routine. I’m all about making effective changes to your lifestyle as this will give you long-term results. The body can be manipulated quite easily in the short-run but those results are not sustainable.

Q. What do most of us get wrong when we aren’t seeing results?

Giving up. Most people get discouraged when they don’t see results in a short period of time, say 30 days. I try to encourage my clients to enjoy the process and their overall fitness journey. To me, it’s all about health first then aesthetics. Funny thing though, when people get healthier, they automatically look better.

Q. What is your philosophy when it comes to keeping fit?

As far as the workout goes, passion and consistency are key. Find what you love to do and do it regularly. Of course, diet also plays a major role. It’s important to avoid processed food as much as possible and it’s even more important to pay attention to the quantity of food you’re eating. I think that is the best way to approach it as I don’t think tracking macronutrients is sustainable in the long-run.

Q. When it comes to nutrition, what are the main rules you live by?

I am not a registered dietician, so I don`t make specific nutrition plans for my clients. However, I share common sense tips that most people can follow. This includes things like making sure you drink water throughout the day, staying away from processed food and simple sugars (except fruit), eating complex carbs at lunchtime and minimising carb intake in the evening, watching the quantity of food we’re eating and enjoying a cheat meal one or two times a week not three or four.

Q. Why should we be eating our complex carbs at lunchtime? 

Complex carbohydrates such as sweet potatoes, oatmeal & brown rice break down into sugars that are released slowly into the bloodstream. They provide the body with sustained energy over a longer period of time. Consumption of this type of macronutrient earlier in the day provides the body with a steady energy supply throughout the day, which is why it’s best to eat them at midday rather than in the evening.

Q. And why is it okay to eat fruit even when we’re staying away from sugar?

Fruit is packed with vitamins and minerals that are essential to human cell function. Fruit is also very easily digestible. Plus fruit is mostly water which gets eliminated from the body quite easily. But like anything, moderation is key.

Q. What is the best diet tip you can give people?

Drink water. Most of us don`t consume nearly enough. Often we mistake hunger for thirst. If we can stay well hydrated, consumption of excess calories can be minimized.

Q. What is the best and most effective way to lose weight?

I always recommend eating less food as the day goes on. Most people consume too many calories at night, this also taxes the digestive system. I have had tremendous personal success with intermittent fasting. During the week I consume the last meal of the day by seven at night. I don’t eat anything except fruit before midday.

Karen Gillan and Jack Black having a joke around on set with stunt doubles
via Instagram @karengillanofficial

Q. Do you ever have a cheat meal?

Yes! Usually once a week and it’ll be burgers or pizza – comfort foods. I love Domino’s thin crust cheese pizza. In-N-Out is my burger of choice [an American chain restaurant], I just wish they had locations here in Hawaii – hopefully, they will one day.

Q. What is ALWAYS in your kitchen cupboard? 

Sprouted grain bread as it’s so filling and packed with nutrients. It’s nutritionally superior to standard bread because the whole grain is ultilised which increases its vitamin content. Sprouted grain breads also have a  lower glycemic index and are more easily digested by the body.

TRY: Organic Delba 3-Grain Bread, £2.19

Q. Are there any foods you eat more of?

I eat tons of fruit here in Hawaii. I can’t get enough mangos and pineapples.

Q. What supplement couldn’t you live without?

I love protein powder because it is a tasty and convenient way to satisfy a hunger craving while providing the body with valuable nutrition. I usually combine vanilla protein powder with strawberries or banana and have a shake after my own workout or even just for a snack.

TRY: Healthista Lean Whey Diet Vanilla Protein Powder, £24.99

Being an actress is hard…

A post shared by Karen Gillan (@karengillanofficial) on

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