The highly-anticipated season five of Pretty Little Liars is back and better than ever tonight (premiering 8/7c on ABC Family) and we can’t wait to see all the juicy drama that ensues in the world of Rosewood, especially between Spencer and Toby. Will they repair their rocky relationship?
One thing’s for sure, the smart and fierce Spencer Hastings, played by Troian Bellisario, is a badass. And the 28-year-old super-fit actress has documented her love for aerial workouts on Instagram. She makes the intense hour-long sessions look breezy (and incredibly breathtaking too!). But make no mistake, aerial is extremely hard and takes a very experienced athlete to accomplish it. We spoke to her powerhouse trainer Mark Wildman of Wildman Athletica for the details on her gravity defying routine.
Shape: Tell us about what a typical workout with Troian entails and how long you’ve been working together.
Mark Wildman (MW): We’ve been working together over two years now. It is entirely dependent on her shooting schedule, but if we are lucky we can sneak in two sessions a week. Her time is very limited so we need to engineer our training to be as efficient as possible. Her current focus is on aerial silks and, if time permits, full contact self-defense fight training. These are both total body, core intensive training strategies. Before she came to me, she had done the standard Hollywood fitness designed more to make people look pretty. I train to keep people alive and teach them a highly complex physical skill. We’re not trying to look like a badass; we’re trying to make you into one.
Shape: For those that aren’t familiar with an aerial workout, what does it involve?
MW: Aerial is a perfect form of strength endurance training that moves the body in every direction the human form can move in, based primarily on pulling actions. It involves various climbing techniques, inverts, and crocheting actions that improve shoulder traction and core strength, with the ultimate goal of developing complex aerial movements out of a plethora of tiny controlled movements.
Shape: Aerial definitely doesn’t look easy, which is a testament to how incredibly fit Troian is! Just how challenging is it to master?
MW: Aerial is extremely challenging, even for many high level athletes. There are not a lot of training modalities or sports that develop the required specific grip strength and shoulder traction strength that aerial demands. Hanging from two chunks of fabric by your hands for several minutes at a time while moving your body through complex patterns is extremely demanding. To even be able to learn it, you need to be in very good shape.
Shape: What kind of training did you have to do initially to prepare Troian for aerial, especially to focus on her grip strength and shoulder traction strength?
MW: We initially used clubbells, which train the shoulder and grip to move in every direction under load to make sure we wouldn't damage her joints during the initial phase of aerial training. Her health had to be the primary concern, especially with her demanding shooting schedule. Kettlebell swings and deck squats provided additional hip and core strength to prepare her for rigorous climbing training, and BodyFlow allowed us to develop a movement language safely on the ground before we started putting her 20 feet in the air. It was three months of this training before we could even begin learning aerial.