David Kingsbury is a personal trainer based at Pinewood Film Studios in the UK. He makes a living by whipping actors, actresses and average Joe’s like us into shape. He also happens to be Hugh Jackman’s personal trainer, and is single-handedly responsible for his unbelievable transformation from his role in Les Miserables to The Wolverine.
The transformation took place in the midst of a press tour (part of which you can watch here) that meant they spent a huge amount of time training on the road. In between numerous events, interviews and promotions they had to find a way to stay on track with their goals to make sure Hugh (I feel like we would be on first name terms) was prepared to play Wolverine.
A seemingly impossible task, but David is the expert. In addition to being crazy knowledgeable, he is also a ridiculously nice guy. He has kindly agreed to be interviewed and explain how he kept Hugh Jackman in shape whilst on the road.
Did you always have access to a gym, or were there times that you had to improvise?
When I have travelled on films before we have nearly always had access to a gym, whether it be a hotel gym or just the closest public gym to where we are staying. Having said this, the gyms don’t always provide the right equipment for a good session, so we often have to improvise. An example of this would be partner resisted press ups, where you literally press down on your partners shoulders as they are doing press ups to increase the resistance.
What are some of the most important pieces of fitness equipment that you took with you?
Chalk is my number one thing to travel with. Often we travel from gym to gym and one of the most important sessions for us is deadlifts. The quality of Olympic bars isn’t always great and plus I have inherently sweaty palms. I hate missing deadlifts so I always pack chalk.
On the occasions that you could get to a gym, what facilities did you look for?
An Olympic bar with plates is the simplest and most effective way to train. This is why it still amazes me that a lot of gyms I have visited don’t have them. They have a whole host of space consuming machines but not a bar or plate in sight. If I walk into a gym and I see an Olympic bar and plates a sense of relief/joy rushes over me.
What made training most difficult? Was it lack of a routine, sleep, or nutrition?
Lack of sleep and rest is always my biggest problem, to be honest. We often work to very gruelling schedules and don’t get adequate rest. So occasionally session intensity is reduced slightly and naps are prescribed.
How did you keep track of progress?
I monitor progress with a pen and paper. I always travel with our training diary which has all the numbers we are meant to hit and all those that we actually hit written down. In the past I used an app on my iPad, but I don’t feel that there is currently one that is up to the standard of a good old fashioned training diary.
Were all meals pre-planned or did you have to adapt?
Most meals are pre-planned, but there is always an element of having to be adaptive. In most establishments you can be a real pain in the ass and get something healthy. It generally works out to be quite expensive as it’s bits and pieces from all over the menu, but it is always worth it.
What staple meals did you eat on the days that you travelled?
There was never really a staple, but a good meal for flights was a chicken and brown rice whole meal wrap. It’s much easier than eating a chicken and rice meal while flying because of having the convenience of it in a wrap.
Sounds delicious. What about snacks?
Snacking is a little easier, but the food plan we were following didn’t allow for much else other than the pre-planned meals. That said, some good quality beef jerky and almonds are great for snacking on.
What other difficulties are there in training a busy celebrity that I have missed? And how did you deal with them?
A healthy lifestyle is generally easier to follow for a celebrity than it is for others. They have the support of a trainer to help organise food and training when travelling, and when on set they generally will have a chef who can prepare their meals. Motivation is still key though; as long as there is motivation anyone can achieve great results.
What’s the one piece of advice you would give to people who want to improve their fitness whilst travelling?
Stay motivated and disciplined but don’t forget to enjoy your travels!
A huge thank you to David for taking the time out from his busy schedule to share these tips with us!
If you have regular access to a gym, David has published all of the details of his training plan in his book, The Wolverine Workout. Alternatively, if you’re looking for a bodyweight-only workout, get your free copy of the Beginner Bodyweight Workout by signing up for the newsletter below!