Viola Davis is the epitome of strength, power, and beauty. And at 57 years old, she’s never looked better. Davis has always been in incredible shape, but when she signed on for her new film, The Woman King, which was released in theaters on September 16, 2022, she took her health to a new level.
In a recent interview with People Magazine, Davis talks about how the movie changed her forever. “I was always muscular and thicker, and I felt like my femininity could not be created with this canvas. And then all of a sudden, with this role, my muscles, my arms, my thick legs, my heavy voice were perfect. I felt unapologetic about it. I celebrated it physically in every way…sometimes you do a movie and then it’s over. And sometimes, you do a movie and it shifts you a little bit. You’re a little bit better for it. And that’s what it’s been like for me with the training.”
But what did it take for Davis to train for a role like this at the age of 57? Read on to learn some of the healthy habits Davis has taken on, and for more celeb news check out 7 Eating Habits These Celebs Swear By to Lose Weight and Keep It Off.
When Davis was training for The Woman King, her trainer wanted her and the other women on set to gain more muscle. In order to achieve this, Davis’ trainer, Celeb trainer Gabriela Mclain, had her eat more throughout the day.
“I did not want them to lose too much weight, I wanted them to gain muscle,” Mclain tells People Magazine. “So they were eating five meals a day, every three hours. They had to drink one gallon of water a day and each of them had a different nutritional plan, which I designed.”
It’s hard to say whether or not Davis has stuck to eating five meals a day after filming ended, but based on what she has said about how training for the movie “shifted her a bit,” she may very well be taking this nutritional advice with her.
Davis earned an Oscar nomination in 2021 for her role as Ma Rainey in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. To prepare for the role of the iconic blues singer, Davis ended up gaining a little bit of weight. When she started training for The Woman King, her goal shifted to gaining more muscle and pushing herself to new levels of strength and health. In order to do that, Mclain had Davis eat a cleaner diet.
Mclain told Hollywood life at the beginning of 2021 that when The Woman King training had begun, “right now she is in regular Viola shape because she trains three times a week … and she eats clean and is disciplined.”
As soon as Davis was done with Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, she immediately began her goal of losing weight and building muscle for The Woman King. Mclain told the New York Post that “she led Davis through high-intensity interval workouts, and put her on a high-protein, plant-centric diet.”
Researchers are continuing to find more and more evidence on the impact of a high-protein diet on weight loss efforts. According to a clinical study from the Journal of Obesity and Metabolic Syndrome, increasing your levels of protein on a daily basis can help you lose weight and also help you to prevent obesity-related diseases.
Functional movements (or functional fitness) are exercises that mimic real-life strength scenarios your body may need. These exercises also involve multiple muscle groups at once, rather than sticking to just one muscle at a time.
Mclain tells People Magazine that she had Davis and the other actors from Woman King doing functional movements like these on a regular basis “because the actresses had days ‘full of movement’ on set.” Because of this, they did things like weight lifting, high-intensity workouts, and strength training.
And lastly, Mclain had Davis training multiple times a week, with an emphasis on doing a variety of different types of exercises.
Mclain tells POP Sugar, “Mondays, we usually do a cardio kickboxing-style workout. Focusing on her punches and kicks…Wednesdays, we work on strength, heavy weights, medicine balls, lots of legs, upper body, and always core.” She also adds that on Fridays the focus turns to trying to “build strong and fast legs” with things like resistance bands and ankle weights while kicking.