Being a personal trainer is challenging but exciting—you get to watch and help people move closer to their goals. And when you’re a celebrity trainer it becomes even more interesting thanks to the added pressure of training high-profile clients who need their bodies to carry them through long hours on set or on stage (not to mention, they’re constantly in the spotlight).
Ashley Borden is one of these badass fitness experts. She’s worked with Christina Aguilera, Reese Witherspoon, Ryan Gosling, Mandy Moore, Natasha Bedingfield, Ke$ha…the list goes on. And she’s got you covered, too. Even if you’re not booking a private training session with Borden, you can use some of her insight to up your fitness game. Because even though ~famous people~ may have some advantages, at the end of the day, everyone’s equal in the gym, says Borden
1. Remember that quick fixes aren’t a thing, even for people who are famous AF.
Results don’t come overnight, and that’s a concept that many struggle with, celebrities included, says Borden. “Part of the issue is that when you are a really famous person, you can say, ‘I like those chairs. Can you get that for me? I’d like it this afternoon.’ Sure! But then they’re like, ‘I’d like those legs. Can you give me those legs by the end of the week?’ No, I can’t,” says Borden. It takes hard work, consistent effort, a balanced nutrition program, and time. “Body fat doesn’t care how famous you are, it doesn’t care how much money you make, it doesn’t know that you’re in a movie. You can’t be [a diva] about fitness.”
And while training does get kicked into high gear every once in a while (take Margot Robbie’s insane three-a-day workouts to prep for Suicide Squad, for example), at the end of the day results come from having a consistent and sustainable fitness routine.
Borden also reminds her clients that striving to have someone else’s body just isn’t realistic or healthy—and that’s an important takeaway. “You should always just want to be the best version of yourself.” Remember that everyone’s body types are different, and focus on working hard to get you closer to your own fitness goals—not someone else’s.
2. Staying consistent is the name of the game, and Hollywood’s most fit celebs know this.
“The biggest issue with female celebrities is getting out of the mindset of, I’m going to get in shape for the event,” Borden tells SELF. “You want to have a consistent foundation of training,” she continues. “Back when I used to train Christina [Aguilera] on the road, which was a while ago, it was about getting in the mindset that every day, you should do something that keeps you consistently fit.”
It’s a good idea to develop a regular training routine so you don’t have to constantly start from the beginning. And sure, Borden will ramp things up for a client leading up to a big event, but nothing can replace that foundation.
Need a place to start? Every client has a different program, but here’s a general recommendation Borden gives for a week’s worth of workouts:
- 3 days per week: Focus on strength training
- 3 days per week: Break a sweat for at least 20 minutes
- 1 day per week: Take an active recovery rest day
Borden always recommends getting in those three days of strength training, but feel free to mix it up and do what you want for the other three days. Try high-intensity interval training, take a boot camp class, or sign up for a dance cardio workout. Want more ideas? In January, Borden will be releasing her second DVD and streaming fitness program, The Body Foundation, which features 21 days of equipment-free workouts designed for all fitness levels.
3. Even when you’re being pulled in 100 different directions, stay focused during a workout and make the most of every single minute.
Squeezing fitness into a busy schedule is all about making the most of whatever time you have, says Borden. So if you only have 10 minutes, be strategic with what type of workout you do. “If you’re going to do bicep curls for 10 minutes you’re not going to get a lot done. But if you’re doing sprints, some type of full-body move, or if you’re working larger muscle groups and switching between the upper and lower body, then you’re going get your heart rate up.”
Even if you are putting in a solid hour, though, you should still make the most of every minute. It may be tempting to start slack off toward the end or throw in the gym towel a little early, but those last few minutes count. One thing Borden does with her clients is a quick burn-so-good circuit at the end of the session. Here’s an example of what she might do:
- 5 reps of exercise 1 (like a burpee)
- 5 reps of exercise 2 (like a pull-up)
- Rest until the next minute begins
- Repeat 4x
Staying committed to your workout also means holding yourself accountable, too. Put away the phone, push away distractions, and focus. (And, psst, if you’re working with Borden don’t be late—she makes all her clients do ‘cardio punishments’ when they’re tardy. Yikes.)
4. Make foam rolling a non-negotiable part of your routine to get the most out of the work you put in.
“I’m a psycho about foam rolling—rolling out your entire body every day makes a huge difference,” says Borden. “When you roll out, it’s kind of similar to a deep tissue massage. So if you have a knot, it’s like a necklace that’s all tangled. When you roll out, it opens up.” This is also known as self-myofascial release—after a workout, the layers of your muscle fibers can heal improperly, creating these knots. Foam rolling is what works them out.
“Then all of your muscles are open and they’re much easier to activate and to feel connected to, as opposed to being tight,” says Borden. “It also helps with mobility, circulation, and range of motion.” Having better mobility and range of motion means you can get deeper into exercises like squats and lunges, so you’ll be using proper form and get the right muscle fibers to fire away, getting more out of the exercise. Think of foam rolling as giving your muscles the A-list treatment.
Borden is such a big believer in foam rolling, she has all of her clients do it on the daily (and she’s got a guide on her website about how to foam roll like a pro, too).
5. Aside from when you’re checking your form, Borden suggests ignoring the mirror—she trains everyone in a mirror-free environment.
Borden has found that when her clients are looking in the mirror, chances are they’re spending too much time looking at their appearance and what other people are doing instead of making sure their form is on-point. “The thing about not using a mirror is that it makes you go internal with your form and focus on what you’re doing. When you have a mirror, your focus is [on your reflection], not inside your body, so you’re not as connected to yourself,” she says.
While Borden is able to watch her client’s form for them, if you don’t have a personal trainer, you can still use this idea to your advantage. Watch yourself do the first rep in the mirror to check your form, then turn around and do it without the visual aid if possible, she says. You can also use your phone to record a video of you doing a move at home, like a squat or push-up, so you can go back after and look for form issues (just make sure you compare it with an example of what good form actually looks like for the move). Borden does this with her clients too—she uses an app called Coach’s Eye so you can slow it down and see where your form could improve. “It’s just like you were looking at it a football replay,” she says.