By Juliet Kaska
I can remember the first time I heard the title “celebrity trainer.” I was relatively new to Los Angeles and very new in my career as a trainer. My immediate internal response was, “that is a silly embellished title for a personal trainer. It’s like a ‘dog trainer’ as if the celebs are animals.” It seemed ridiculous, and I swore I would never use that description for myself. A few short years later, the universe, or in this case, the media, had different plans for me.
The first time I was called a ‘Celebrity Trainer’ was in the LA Times. It was the Sunday edition in a feature on my then-client, Stacey Keibler. She was a WWE wrestler who was gaining household popularity with her stint on DWTS season 2.
At this time, I was already working with other high-profile clients, but this was the first time I was given a shout-out in the media by one of them. In the 10+ years since that Sunday edition of the LA Times came out, I have been called a Celebrity Trainer, even from my lips more than I can count. I still cringe slightly at the title, but the truth is, yes, that is what I do- I train celebrities. I train them for their roles, their performances, their appearances, their health, and even for their mental well-being.
With that training comes a lot of recommendations, tips, gentle pushes, strong pushes, threats, hugs, and even hand-holding to get them where they need to be. Vionic has asked me to share with you some of my favorite tips that I provide to my celebrity clients. I would like to include a disclaimer before we delve into the tips.
Celebrities are real people with real lives. Including families, bosses, budgets, heartache, sadness, emotions, upsets, etc. What makes it all different for them than you and I are their careers directly relate to their body and health. This is true whether they are an actress, an athlete, a comedian, or a musician. It is required for them to have longevity and substance in their field. So, when taking on these tips for yourself, see if you can make that correlation for yourself. It is essential to your longevity in your “career of living.”
Do something physical every day.
After clients have completed the job we have prepared for, I encourage them to keep up with being physical every day. The intensity may decrease as they transition from the job. But I want them to keep their bodies at a solid baseline of agility, strength, and function. This is good for their overall health and wellbeing, as it is for yours, but it also makes our work together safer and easier for their next job or appearance.
Lifting weights has many benefits; it increases muscle tone, improves metabolic rate, reduces the likelihood of osteoporosis, and has a calming or grounding effect for many.
Shoot/Appearance Day Tips
Dips & Pushups
Right before the big moment, or as close to it as possible, do burnout sets of pushups and dips. This trick will give a nice visual pop to your upper body muscles.
This is a trick that was originally told to me by a competitive bodybuilder. Over the years, I have shared it with many clients. Right before the big moment, eat the equivalent of 1 square of dark chocolate (70% cacao or higher). If your “moment’ is for an extended period, eat 1 portion every 30-60 minutes.
The idea behind this is 4-fold. The chocolate releases serotonin giving you a positive boost. The caffeine in chocolate gives you an energy boost. The high amount of flavonoids in dark chocolate help reduce inflammation throughout the body. These all have science behind them. The last reason is based on a feeling, not science, that most people report, “it feels like you shrink after eating it.” This may be a physiological response, but nonetheless, the feeling is there for many, giving them an added boost of confidence before their big moment.
Weight Loss/Gain/Maintenance Tips
Course your meals
Instead of having a plate of food placed in front of you, course out your meals. Start with veggies or salad paired with a healthy fat like avocado or extra virgin olive oil. Your second course is protein. Lastly, have a nutritious starch like quinoa, sweet potatoes, or lentil soup. By the time you get to the 3rd course, you will eat less of this calorie-dense food group but still get its health benefits and satisfaction. This tip applies to lunch or breakfast. For dinner, skip the 3rd course, only enjoying your starter veggie/salad course and 2nd course of protein.
I don’t recommend this if someone struggles with an eating disorder or OCD. Otherwise, I advocate using the scale to keep a client accountable and on track for when weight loss (or gain) is a goal. Alternatively, you can use a pair of non stretch jeans as your guide.
Start your day with a large green juice or smoothie. I am partial to juice, but another option is a smoothie, provided it is not loaded with excess milk. This tip aims to pack a high dose of nutrients and antioxidants first thing in the morning. Your body thrives off of this, and over time, you will begin to crave more nutritious foods and less junk. If you do this for 2-weeks straight, I can all but guarantee you will feel better and see a difference in what your body desires to eat. Most of my clients report lessening or losing sugar cravings altogether. As well as snacking less throughout the day and no more late afternoon energy crashes.
A Weekly Fast
I am a huge advocate for fasting, which was considered controversial. But in 2017-2018, studies came out showing a plethora of health benefits from fasting. The mainstream media caught on, and now you cannot open a fitness or wellness site without finding mention of these benefits.
Some of these are weight loss, reducing insulin resistance, reducing inflammation, improving heart health, increasing human growth hormone production, possibly promoting brain function, and increasing longevity. My fasting recommendation is one day a week, take a full fast (water only) for 24hrs. If this feels too extreme, start doing only 1-3 days a week of water, bone broth, and lightly cooked veggies. Consume these in 1-2 small portions on each fasting day.
It is no joke; sleep must be a priority. It is always important, but especially as you move into your mid 30’s and beyond. A healthy adult is recommended to get 7-9hrs of sleep in a day. It is essential to overall physical and mental health, daily function, and personal relationships that we get enough sleep. Take the time to unwind before bed, including turning off all devices at least 30-minutes before bedtime.
Right up there with sleep is meditation. In fact, if you are having difficulty getting your daily required Z’s, try 20 minutes of meditation. Not only will this help you fall asleep in the evening (if that is an issue for you) it has similar benefits to getting sleep, including lowering blood pressure, reducing anxiety (the #1 cause of sleep disorders), and improving brain function and mood. Meditation also helps us stay calm in stressful moments and reduces reactive behavior. All of which help us in making better and wiser choices.
Tips for When Out Socializing
Alcohol is full of empty calories and “bad choices.” The ‘bad choices’ part of that sentence flew out of my client’s mouth one day when I said the first half. It is wise and true. One study found that drinking alcohol (this includes beer & wine) leads to poor choices in eating both while drinking and in the 24hrs afterward. Drinking is a quick and easy path to weight gain, both by consuming extra useless calories and increasing cortisol production. Instead of having cocktails at the next social engagement, get soda water in a cocktail or wine glass with lime. It is refreshing, helps with bad breath, and is filling, so you will be less likely to snack on the passed hors d’oeuvres.
Look at the menu before arriving
If you’re going out for dinner at a restaurant you are unfamiliar with, look the menu up online and plan out your choices ahead of time. Stay firm in your choices when you arrive, and skip the bread course if one is offered.
About the Author:
Juliet Kaska is one of the country’s leading celebrity trainers and health + wellness experts. In 2005, she opened Emerson Hall Fitness (EHF) in West Hollywood, CA, which quickly became the most sought-after boutique gym in the Los Angeles area. She then launched her brand JK Zen Fitness, with partnership locations throughout LA, and in 2010 opened the JK Fitness Pilates Studio. Juliet recently partnered with Vionic to create the Move for You program, a three-part series of 7 minute videos that get you moving with power and comfort. In addition to her celebrity clientele, Juliet is known for creating Hollywood’s favorite workout programs: The Bombshell Bride, Picture Perfect, The Red Carpet Workout, The Executive’s Workout and her most popular, Pilates Burn, a high-intensity workout combining Pilates reformer equipment, traditional strength training techniques and the flow of yoga. Juliet has consulted for and appeared on numerous programs such as Good Morning America, Dr. Phil and Entertainment Tonight. Numerous publications including Vogue, Shape, Los Angeles Magazine, People, Oxygen, Fitness Magazine, Glamour and Health Magazine have also featured her as a fitness expert. Juliet is trained and certified in multiple disciplines, making her workout programs both diverse and innovative. She is certified as a Second Generation Master Pilates Teacher and has received dual certification as a personal trainer from the American Council on Exercise and the National Academy of Sports Medicine. In addition, yoga guru Dharma Mittra trained her as a yoga teacher. Juliet brings a vibrant voice and unique perspective to the Vionic Innovation Lab.