From the man who J-Law credits her figure to, celebrity trainer Dalton Wong reveals his best workout tips for women who want better results
Dalton Wong, founder of private West London gym Twenty Two Training, travels the world keeping actresses on top of their game. Even when dressed in their character’s wardrobe on set, Dalton makes sure to hit a certain amount of reps by the end of the day to keep them in shape.
He has trained stars such as Kit Harrington, Amanda Seyfried, Alice Eve, Diana Argon and Zoë Kravitz But most recently, he has been working with Eve Hewson, the female lead of Robin Hood set to be released in 2018. Starring alongside Jamie Dornan and Jamie Foxx, the 25-year-old Irish born actress, who is also daughter to Bono (aka Paul Hewson), has stepped up to the role of Maid Marian. Every day, Dalton grabbed snippets of her time to work out together when she wasn’t running around with merry men in tights (yikes). ‘I had to make sure she looked fit and healthy for her job as the lead female, but also to have a good workout’, says Dalton. ‘When we are in the gym we did an hour a day, but on set we might just have ten minutes’.
Behind the scenes, Dalton has been training Eve Hewson
But most impressively, Dalton is the guy who changed it all for Jennifer Lawrence. Meeting in 2010, the award-winning superstar (and highest paid actress in the world), said, ‘Dalton taught me how to eat, move and live a delicious but healthy life. I will always thank him for that’.
J-Law shaped up for her superhero role in three months, despite being completely new to the healthy lifestyle
In preparation for X-Men: First Class, the two intensely trained together by doing running, weight lifting, yoga, resistance, and squats. Using the principles of The Feelgood Plan, Dalton’s diet and exercise book, J-Law shaped up for her superhero role in three months, despite being completely new to the healthy lifestyle. ‘I feel I am the trainer that started her [J-Law’s] education in nutrition, and taught her what foods would make her feel good,’ Wong says, explaining that he was one of the first to help mould her.
Shaping the physiques of not only Hollywood’s finest but also busy Londoners, Wong has just launched his own workout, the Mini-Band Workout, using his favourite piece of equipment, resistance bands. The 15-minute circuit-training programme is divided into three main programmes for each coloured band, for posture, fat burning and toning.
With 15 years of experience in the fitness bubble, Dalton knows a thing or two about what women want, and what they need to do to get it. Here, Healthista grills Dalton for his best advice for seeing results quicker.
Why you’re not getting results (and what to do instead)
Your focus keeps changing ‘You need to figure out what your prime goal is and stick with it’, Dalton says. ‘If my client is aiming for weight loss, we would gear their plan towards that for four weeks, per se, with the best exercise, nutrition, lifestyle and stress management plan for the most effective results. Then you might say ‘Hey Dalton, I feel and look great. Now how do I sustain this?’. People swap from weight loss to posture to muscle gain – they aren’t focused enough.’
You stay in your comfort zone ‘If you go to a class regularly, you’ll see the same people there every time. They look the same, because they are doing it over and over again. Our body is designed to be comfortable, so we have to work outside that to see benefits. That’s why people, I believe, are spending a lot of their time and resources into exercise and not achieving their goal, because they aren’t pushing themselves enough. That’s not necessarily a fault of their own, that’s because our bodies adapt.’
The intensity isn’t high enough ‘It doesn’t have to be crazy stuff, it just has to be uncomfortable. If you work all day at your desk, you’re so physically exhausted by the end of the day that your half hour workout isn’t as good as it could be. If you can work out for 20 minutes at your highest intensity, it’s better than 45 minutes of moderate exercise.’
You give up too easily ‘You know that last set at the end of a workout and your body says ‘I’m done’? and you think about stopping? Most people stop. But when you work through it, you realise it was just your brain saying that. People have to push through that barrier, being mentally aware that you can work harder than you think you can, and feel better and stronger.’
It’s not varied enough – and you’re not using resistance ‘You get people who just like to go to the gym, just like to do yoga, or just like to do Spin classes. They become very good at that discipline and that’s it. If you use bodyweight all the time, your body will get used to it. Add some resistance to your yoga or Pilates workout. That works both ways; if you do CrossFit, it might be good to come off that for a while and do some yoga and Pilates instead to balance it out. Its knowing and listening to your body. In a week, my clients do a varied programme of 2-3 strength or resistance training, one flexibility, and one cardio. Then you get a varied programme.’
You’re not working on your weaknesses ‘It’s important to work on your weaknesses not your strengths. Do the stuff you’re bad at, and the stuff you’re good at can only get better. If you like to do HIIT but you can’t bend over and touch your toes, work on your flexibility. Think how much faster you would be and how much higher you could jump.’
‘If you do yoga but are having trouble doing a backbend or a one leg downward dog, a bit of resistance training for your back, bum and shoulders would help you get into those positions. That’s where your body is so clever. It needs to be flexible, strong and stable, and you need all different disciplines in order for that to happen.’
Dalton’s celebrity trainer secrets
So, Dalton, if we push ourselves harder, is a celebrity body achievable?
‘Do you want the honest truth? A celebrity’s job is to look and feel good. It is their reputation and their craft to make sure they look and feel a certain way, both in front of the camera and on the red carpet. There is no secret, they work very hard and are very dedicated, they have to in order for the success of their career.
I would say actors are professional athletes
‘It helps that they have trainers like me to guide them. They have to make sure they see me three or four times a week as well as their acting/dialect coach, massage therapist and any other support network them may have. Just like it’s your job to call me and interview me and write an article! You’re judged at how good your article is, and they are judged on how well they sell and how they look.
‘Most jobs are not like that apart from a model or athlete. I would say celebrities are professional athletes, but people don’t see them that way because they entertain on screen. But they work just as hard as athletes, maybe even harder, because they don’t have an off season. Their life involves going from movie set to movie set without any release, so they work hard 95 per cent of the time. We can let loose on holiday and won’t be judged. But unfortunately for them, they need to remain sustainable healthy to manipulate their body into various roles. Are they a different breed? No, they are just professional at their job!’
celebrities are professional athletes, but people don’t see them that way because they entertain on screen
So how do you train a celebrity?
‘There are four things I’ll do with them. Firstly, you need a nutrition plan for what you’re training for. Then you find out what exercises are best suited for their role and how to look aesthetically. Number three is sorting out lifestyle tips. If they are in London or abroad, I will work out what food they can eat, the restaurants they can eat at and what food or hotel service they can use. And lastly, how they manage their stress. That’s arranging how they can do their yoga, Pilates or even a massage. I will tell them, wherever they are in the world, how to do these things, and that’s what I can do as their trainer. Regardless of fame, most of my clients don’t have disposable time. So I need to make sure I am giving them the most effective workout.’
What’s the one thing you always use in your workouts?
‘Resistance bands have been part of my workout plan for 15 years and I use them with all my clients. (Dalton has just released his own Mini-Band Workout, using three different bands for posture, fat burning and toning). I was just on the movie set for Robin Hood in Europe, and it’s the perfect way to do resistance training on the go. I can’t take equipment, but I can pop these into my pocket. They will be ready for filming, hair and makeup done, and we will use them quickly to work on their bum or legs.
‘They can be used as a warm-up or for stretching besides a whole workout. Sometimes people want to feel their muscles working more. In an exercise class, the way you engage is by exerting yourself. But resistance bands engage the muscles, and this collates to your brain that they are being worked.’
Do resistance bands have the same effect as weights?
Not everyone can go to the gym and pick up a 5kg weight
‘They aren’t there to replace weights, or your kettlebell, TRX or CrossFit class. But as an add on to your armour of exercise. Most of my clients are female, and I’ve realised a lot of women are scared of weights, thinking they will get bulky or injured. I’m trying to break down those barriers for women, or people, by explaining to them that using resistance bands is still resistance training without using a kettlebell, barbell or dumbbell. I’d like to think I’m empowering women to use resistance training but it doesn’t have to be the standard thing you would see in the gym.
‘A lot of people don’t have the finance or time to go to the gym, or are simply scared with a lack of training experience to do a lot of things. Not everyone can go to the gym and pick up a 5kg weight or even a 2kg weight, so this is just a great entry level way of building strength and becoming fitter and stronger. You then can move up to things such as weights or pull-ups.’
What’s your go to fat-burning exercise?
‘For me the most reliable fat burning exercise is anything that takes you out of your comfort zone. If you take someone who has just had a child, stressed out, or really busy with work and get them to do a HIIT class, it might be so strenuous that they are in bed for three days because they are so sore. That’s not great. If you tell that same person to go for a jog, and work at their 80 per cent at 30 second intervals, they’ve worked in their own capacity, outside their comfort zone, and that will change their body.’
What’s your go-to for strength exercises?
‘When it comes to strength, firstly, if you’re scared, seek someone who knows about resistance training. Go to a class or trainer and seek advice because they will teach you how to do it in a safe an effective way. If you go to Pilates, the reformer chair uses resistance training. A barre class uses dumbbells and even some spin classes do. When in doubt, always start using a lighter weight. It’s better to start off slow and progress up and enjoy the workout rather than lift too heavy and be sore for five days.
Working on your back will give you an instant boob lift
‘I would really recommend women to think about working the back of their bodies. The areas I get my clients to work are the back and muscles between shoulder blades. If you work these muscles, it automatically stops your body from being round shouldered. Also, if you have a bigger chest, your shoulders will automatically drop because of the weight. By working on your back, it will improve your posture and pick up your chest naturally. It’s an instant boob lift! I do it a lot with pregnant clients to take the pressure off.’
‘The second thing I always get my clients to work is their bum. For cosmetic purposes, yes it lifts it. But from a health point of view, having a strong bum can help prevent back, hip, and knee pain. Besides it looking amazing, it does a lot of functional things. Especially for female clients who would eventually like to have a child or have children, it helps with back pain. People come to see me for aesthetic reasons but I try and show them the health benefits, too.’
What diet do you typically follow?
‘I follow a diet that has protein, carbs and fats- I eat everything! I typically eat clean Monday to Friday, with all these foods and lots of veggies, with limited carbs. But on the weekend, I have a much more flexible diet because I’m with my family. If I go out for Sunday brunch, I might or might not have some bread, or a quinoa salad or some sweet potato. When I have a roast dinner on Sunday, I may not have a Yorkshire pudding but I will have roast potatoes.’
What’s your best diet advice?
‘As a father, its important for me to set a good example for my children, my daughter and son, and show them that it’s ok to eat everything. I advise something similar to my clients. I tell them to be very strict and mindful during term time at work, so that at the weekends and during breaks, like last week was half term, they can enjoy being with their family.
Nothing is off limits, as long as you are mindful, enjoy it and there is no guilt
‘If you’re with your girlfriends or partner and you want that ice cream of drink, have it. That’s why we are here – to enjoy ourselves. If you don’t give people what they want they will eat everything else, and more of it! If I told my client not to eat chocolate, they would end up eating ten energy balls instead. And that’s a lot more calories and carbs than if they had just had the chocolate bar. If your favourite food is pizza, denying yourself of it is only going to make you think about it all the time. I would suggest having half of it with salad and grilled vegetables, to compensate not eating it all. Some people might fancy a whole tub of ice cream. I would say put four scoops in a bowl.
‘Nothing is off limits, as long as you are mindful, enjoy it and there is no guilt. This is what I try and instil in my clients, to have a balanced approach. This is lifestyle, not a diet.’
Dalton Wong is one of the world’s leading health and fitness experts. He founded Twenty Two Training in London and trains A-list actors specifically to transform their bodies for demanding roles. He has worked closely with leading experts in this specialised field for more than 15 years. He returns to the USA annually to train in new methods in training and exercise, working with prestigious institutes such as Athlete’s Performance. As an expert in nutrition, he also designs bespoke diets according to individuals’ goals. Follow him on Instagram and Twitter.
Buy The Feelgood Plan: Happier, Healthier and Slimmer in 15 Minutes a Day, for £10.49 on Amazon.