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Charlize Theron's Ballet-Based Total-Body Workout


Charlize Theron is a world-renowned actress dedicated to her diverse film roles (congrats are in order for her recent Golden Globe nom!) and incredibly devoted to her intense workouts, too.

From struttin’ red carpets worldwide to stunning TV audiences in her oh-so-sexy Dior commercial campaigns, Theron is clearly one gorgeous woman with the most sensational, svelte figure to match.

But behind most fabulous figures in Hollywood is an equally as fabulous trainer. Meet powerhouse fitness expert Fedele De Santis, owner of The Gym on Nemo, where one might spot hot bods like Jessica Biel, Cameron Diaz, Eva Mendes, and Ms. Theron herself. 

De Santis, who has worked with the South African stunner for more than two years, trains all his female clients to look like ballerinas with long, lean, strong and beautiful bodies.

“Charlize is an extremely serious, focused, professional, no BS, balls-to-the-wall client,” De Santis says. “She is so tenacious my nickname for her is thundercat!”

The secret to a beautiful ballerina body like Theron? “Make sure your grip for every exercise is narrow. A wide grip makes the muscles grow wide and your body more masculine,” De Santis says.

When it comes to diet, De Santis advises to slowly lower your calories and focus on proteins, vegetables, and dark-colored fruits and greens. Make sure everything you eat is clean and organic, and stay away from fried foods, bread, rice, and pasta, as well.

“A lot of women make the mistake of changing their diet too quickly in one day. Lower your calories slowly so you can avoid causing emotional and mental trauma to yourself,” recommends De Santis. “As long as you don’t reduce your calories too suddenly, your body will acclimate, your stomach will adjust, and you’ll get to your goal easier.”

From Hollywood, Fla., to Hollywood, Calif., De Santis’ wealth of experience and fitness expertise definitely shows in the famous fit females he trains.

“Being a personal trainer has given me so many opportunities to help bring others not only better health, but peace of mind. This is the true success of what I do,” he says. “If you’re not having fun, it ain’t worth it!”

That’s why we were thrilled when De Santis shared with us Theron’s leading lady workout so we too can get our bodies in beautiful ballerina shape. Read on for more!

Theron’s Workout: De Santis’ workout for Theron is ballet-based and works every muscle group. Use dumbbells 5 lbs. and under to avoid getting bulky. Complete a minimum of 35 minutes of cardio in addition to these moves (Theron loves the Arc Trainer).

You’ll Need: 3 and 5 lb. dumbbells, exercise mat, bench, 18 lb. exercise ball, tricep pushdown machine.

Pliés in Second Position:
Begin with your legs and arms in second position, and lower your body as you do for a grand plié in first position. As you do, be especially careful to keep your upper body aligned, without sticking out your rear end. At the bottom of the motion, make sure that your hips never go lower than your knees.

Complete 1 set of 35-50 plies.

Seated Bicep Curls:
Sit with your back against a backrest so that your head, shoulders and butt make contact with the bench and your feet firmly on the floor. Grasp a dumbbell in each hand with thumbs wrapped around the handles and put your arms at your sides. Pull the shoulder blades down and back.

Exhale and slowly bend your elbows bringing the dumbbells toward your shoulders. Do not allow your back to arch or your elbows to move forward. Keep the wrists in line with your forearms (neutral). Do not allow the wrists to bend throughout the exercise. Your head, shoulders and butt should stay in contact with the bench. Keep your feet firmly on the floor. Do not allow your shoulders to shrug.
Inhale and straighten your elbows and lower the dumbbells back to your start position in a slow and controlled manner.

Complete 1 set of 60 reps with 5 lb. dumbbells.

Side Laterals:
Grab your dumbbells and stand with a straight torso and the dumbbells by your side at arm’s length with the palms of the hand facing you. This will be your starting position. While maintaining the torso in a stationary position (no swinging), lift the dumbbells to your side with a slight bend in the elbow and the hands slightly tilted forward. Continue to go up until your arms are parallel to the floor. Exhale as you execute this movement and pause for a second at the top. Lower the dumbbells back down slowly to the starting position as you inhale and repeat.

Complete 1 set of 35 reps with 3 lb. dumbbells.

Lie down on your back and place your feet hip-distance apart with knees bent. Place your arms beside your hips with your palms down. Inhale and as you exhale, tilt your pelvis and squeeze your glutes as you slowly lift your hips up as high as they will go.

At the peak of the contraction you will be resting on your shoulder blades only with your body in a straight line from your knees to your head. Lower and raise your buttocks about eight inches and repeat.

Complete 1 set of 75 reps.

Bicycle Crunches:
Lie flat on the floor with your lower back pressed to the ground and contract your core muscles. With your hands gently holding your head, lift your knees to about a 45-degree angle. Slowly, at first, go through a bicycle pedal motion, alternately touching your elbows to the opposite knees as you twist back and forth. Breathe evenly throughout the exercise.

Complete 1 set of 60 reps.

Modified Plank:
Place your body face down on your hands as if you’re about to do a push-up. Contract the abs as tight as you can, keep the body in a straight line from head to toes and hold in this position.

Hold for a minimum of 60 seconds.

Bench Press with 18 lb. Exercise Ball:
When you perform a bench press on a ball, try to keep your body as straight as possible from your shoulders to your knees.  Keep your head and shoulders on the ball and your feet flat on the ground.  Start with weight at chest level and press towards the ceiling until your arms are straight. 

Complete 1 set of 60 reps.

Tricep Pushdowns:
Face the tricep pushdown machine and grasp the horizontal cable bar with an overhand grip. The bar should be at about chest level. Tuck the elbows into the sides and position the feet comfortably, slightly apart. Brace the abdominals. Push down on the handle bar until elbows are fully extended yet without snapping the elbows straight and by keeping the elbows close to the body on the way down.

Bend the knees slightly on the pushdown but stay as upright as possible with back straight. Don’t recruit the back and shoulder muscles by bending too far forward. Allow the bar to return to the starting point under control, and try not to clash the weights.

Complete 35 reps with 20 lbs., using a narrow grip.

For more info on Fedele De Santis and to inquire about personal training, please email him at


About  Kristen Aldridge 

Kristen Aldridge lends her pop culture expertise to Yahoo! as host of "omg! NOW." Receiving millions of hits per day, the hugely popular daily entertainment news program is one of the most-watched on the web. As a seasoned entertainment journalist, pop culture expert, fashion addict and lover of all things creative, she is founder of and recently launched her own celeb-inspired fashion line and smartphone app. Connect with Kristen to talk all things celebrity via Twitter and Facebook, or visit her official website.