25 Famous Women on Exercise

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Even celebrities make New Year’s resolutions to work out. For them, of course, staying in shape is often part of the job, but that doesn’t mean they don’t require a little motivation. Read on for fitness advice from a range of women — including Tracy Anderson, Kerry Washington, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg — on the workouts they love (and hate) to do and the mental tricks they use to keep themselves going.

And if the overpopulated gyms of January don’t sound enticing, feel free to heed the sage advice of Joanna Rohrback of Prancercise fame and remember that some exercises don’t even require a gym. Naomi Campbell, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Betty White, and more celebrity women share their thoughts below.

Tracy Anderson

“Every single day that you do not exercise you’re gaining weight or staying the same. Period. It’s important to not live in a place of self-sabotage with a lack of self-worth. Exercise shouldn’t be what you need relief from. You want to get to the point where a day of not moving your body feels worse than binge-watching something on Netflix. But here’s the thing: that doesn’t mean you have to aggressively kill it seven days a week. The last two days, I did very light exercise, like under 30 minutes, and chilled out with my son and ate ice cream. I don’t think of it as ‘cheating’ or go overboard and plan not to eat the next day. Your body wants to know you’re going to rest it, move it and feed it.” – Hello!, February 2016

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

“There’s something that’s harder for me than push-ups, and my trainer calls it ‘the plank.’ You’re on your stomach. I do it for 30 seconds, and then breathe, and then another 30 seconds.” – CBS Sunday Morning, October 2016

Mindy Kaling

“When I run I pretend I’m chasing down the man who killed my gorgeous husband on our wedding day, and it almost always motivates me.” – Chalkboard Magazine, January 2014

Dolly Parton

“I have tennis shoes with little rhinestones that I slip on if I exercise.” – The Daily Mail, January 2014

Kim Kardashian

“I live in a gated community with lots of horse trails, so I run on those, or on the treadmill in our home gym on the other side of the house. My workouts are usually about an hour, maybe an hour and 15 minutes total, but I like to mix them up. Running takes me about 35 minutes on the trails, and then I’ll come back and work my abs or legs. I like to listen to music while I work out, but I don’t need it to pump me up or get energized. It’s weird — I’ll put my iPod on shuffle and listen to slow R&B songs or even classical music, which most people think is so bizarre. I don’t need anything fast. When I go to Barry’s Bootcamp, they put on dance music or house music sometimes, and that slows me down.” – Harper’s Bazaar, April 2015

Isabel Marant

“During the week I drive my scooter to the swimming pool in St.-Germain every morning. I need this to breathe and to handle my stressful days. It’s a pool from the beginning of the last century. I love that you get your own cabine, so you don’t have to go into a locker room. I wear an Adidas one-piece, and I often use small fins and do about 35 laps.” – Harper’s Bazaar, March 2015

Betty White

“My exercise — I have a two-story house and a very bad memory. So I’m up and down those stairs all the time.” – OWN, March 2015

Kerry Washington

“There are a lot of forms of exercise where you have to leave yourself out of the room while you force yourself to do this thing. With Pilates, I get to bring my true self. I cry, I laugh. I get to go: Where is my body today? What do I need today? How can I take care of myself and push myself past my comfort zone? How can I be both loving and challenging?” – Self, August 2015

Joanna Rohrback, founder of Prancercise

“The walk was the one that came to me first, when I was power-walking to a really great song on the radio and started to sashay. Then I wanted some upper body toning and developed the box, and then the trot was just fun  —  why do you think I was a little late for this interview? I was trotting, of course!  —  and it’s just nice to have the gallop for when a song changes and you want to get some increased cardio.” – the Hairpin, June 2013

Khloé Kardashian

“Some people were like, ‘It took you so long to lose weight.’ And I’m like, ‘I’ve been fat or out of shape my whole life. It’s gonna take time to reprogram my body.’ But some people were like, ‘I liked you better when you were fat.’ I get body-shamed now that I work out! But I don’t care what weight I am. It’s genuinely about me being healthy. I was never like, ‘I want to lose 30 pounds in 30 days.’ Trust me: I’ve done juice cleanses. I did the Master Cleanse. Like, what would Beyoncé do? But it didn’t work for my body and my lifestyle.” – Health, December 2016

Michelle Obama

“I really mix it up — some weights, some kickboxing, lots of cardio. You know, I try to make it fun — do a little yoga. I really try to mix it up so that I don’t get bored … You know, sometimes I’m not successful, which is why I try to work out as much as possible when I do have the time, so that that week or those few days when I miss something, it’s not the end of the world. And I would encourage people: Don’t beat yourself up, because sometimes life happens and you just can’t get it done. But when I’m on the road, I bring a jump rope. But, you know, you could do jumping jacks. You could, you know, do some sit-ups. Or just get out of your hotel room and do a walk, go down to the gym. But for me, you know, I can’t walk out of my hotel room and into the street as First Lady, looking like I look when I first get up in the morning. So sometimes I just like to jump in my room, all by myself.” – NPR, June 2012

Carine Roitfeld

“I love ballet because you can see how beautiful the body is. It’s similar to my interest in fashion, except with fashion there are clothes. I think that ballet is very good for the body. It’s very similar to yoga, because you have to hold a position. I did a lot of yoga, but now I’ve stopped yoga and I’m just doing ballet, maybe because I love the music of ballet, the piano. I love piano music, it reminds me of being in the Russian school of ballet, and I love that. I love listening to the piano while I am doing my ballet. If I could choose something besides fashion, I would love to be a ballerina.” – Hint Magazine, October 2011

Viola Davis

“You know they say 80 percent of losing weight is what you eat, and 20 percent is exercise? I got the 20 percent covered. If I have to be at work at 5 a.m, I will get up at 3 and work out. I run, I do weights. I’m very toned. I’m like every other woman. I’d love to be 10 pounds or 20 pounds lighter. If I’m not, I’m OK with that, too. I’m good as long as I’m healthy.” – Self, March 2016

Jennifer Aniston

“It’s interesting when you stop exercising. It really was interesting how my serotonin levels went down. My stamina was shot. I was cranky. I was irritable. I’m usually really not any of those things. I just found myself short. I was hungry like crazy. Then you realize exercise is just so important to our soul. Not just being able to fit into skinny jeans, just your state of mind, your soul, all of that. I surrendered into it. I actually didn’t fight it. I didn’t think, Oh, this is horrible.”– Dr. Oz, December 2014

Gigi Hadid

“I only box. It’s the only thing that keeps me sane. I can’t just go to the gym and run. I’d rather die. I played volleyball and rode horses my entire life so just, like, moving to a city and having to go the gym was just so weird for me. And boxing was the first thing where I felt like I wanted to go the gym and get better at it and like improve. It’s kind of like all the guys there are my big brothers, and yesterday, I just went and lay on the floor and talked to them while they were training everyone. My trainer, Rob Piela, is one of my best friends. If I get tired, I’ll just hit him and lie on the floor and talk.” – Elle, June 2015

Padma Lakshmi

“After having a baby, I didn’t have time to go to the gym, and I had to be back on TV in less than six weeks. That’s how I started doing stairs. Now, whether I’m home or traveling, I climb as many as 70 flights a day, which takes me about 35 minutes. I don’t run them. I walk at a steady pace, two steps at a time. It’s the perfect workout because pretty much anywhere you go, there are stairs and they’re usually empty.” – Fitness

Helen Mirren

“Buy yourself a fabulous workout outfit. Put it on and do four sit-ups and take it off and get in the shower … My thing with exercise is start really easy, just so you only do three sit-ups, you know? Then do four next week and the next week do five. Start really easy.” – People, April 2015

Soo Joo Park

“I’ve fallen out of a [workout] routine, but I was doing a little bit of kickboxing and Pilates. I was in Korea in August, and they have this thing called EMS — it’s a machine that sends electric signals, and it shocks your muscles. The machine is wired to you while you’re wearing a wet suit. It’s wet because then it transfers all the electricity better, and you do very simple motions, like squats. I really recommend it because you sweat so much, and the exercise is usually only 20 minutes long, but it’s supposed to be three times as effective. It’s like working out for an hour, but you can do it in 20 minutes.” – the Cut, November 2015

Jillian Michaels

“A great quote is ‘If you have the why to live, you can tolerate the how.’ How is the work associated with the goal? You have to have that why to make those better choices. So if you want to go on spring break and wear a bikini, great. If you’re thirty-five, and you want to keep up with your two toddlers, great. If you’re sixty, and want to see your grandchildren graduate from high school one day, great. If you want to live to be a centurion, great. All that matters is that it dramatically improves the quality of your life, in a way that only you really truly care about, and in a really organic way that you form an emotional connection to. All those things on your list are going to be accomplished.” – the New Potato, June 2016

Bryce Dallas Howard

“I created a fitness club with five friends. We have created a system of group rewards, weekly check-ins with each other, and group penalties if one of us slacks off. In regards to fitness, it is often so much easier to let myself down than to let someone I love down. So creating a reward system based on the group’s fitness goals makes success much more likely … and fun!” – Self, June 2010

Miranda Kerr

“I like plank pose. Doing plank pose 10 minutes a day … You go on the side, on the front, on the other side. Turn music on. Do it every day. It just keeps your whole body toned. Sometimes my arms will get really sore, so I’ll go up and down on my elbows. And I try and, like, turn the music on and sometimes [my 3-year-old son] Flynn is hanging around, jumps on me and I’m like, ‘You’re making it really hard for me, buddy. Come on.’ He thinks it’s hilarious.” – Elle, March 2014

Elizabeth Banks

“I do this system called TRX. It was developed by a Navy SEAL and is basically a simple cord that you can wrap around something anywhere, anytime, and you use your body weight as resistance. We installed one in our home gym, but you can also attach it to a tree. It’s very easy to travel with.” – Women’s Health, January 2012

Naomi Campbell

“Yoga and Pilates — I don’t lift weights. I like working with the resistance of my own body weight.” – W Magazine, November 2016

Julia Louis-Dreyfus

“Besides hiking, I like spin classes and I like doing cardio. But I have to admit, I am not so great on a bike. But I do try to do cardio — or anything aerobic — one day a week if I can because I think it’s so important and anyone feels better after they do it. I’m admittedly a lot better in smaller classes and groups though; when there are gobs of people, I start to get self-conscious.” – New Beauty, March 2015

Constance Wu

On her healthiest habit: “Running. When I’m not working, I run, like, six miles a day. I listen to old Broadway musicals, like The Sound of Music or A Chorus Line. If I’m doing a longer run, I’ll listen to a podcast. There’s a podcast about puns I like called Punk Assed. It’s pretty funny!” – Health, November 2016

25 Famous Women on Exercise