Starring as powerful leading lady Olivia Pope on Scandal
(she plays a former White House communications director who starts her own crisis management firm), Kerry Washington
has been known to clock in over 16-hour shoot days yet still manages to maintain her amazing physique. With her long, lean body, it’s no surprise the talented actress is a serious Pilates devotee, having trained with former member of Ukraine’s rhythmic gymnastics team, Nonna Gleyzer
, the last six years.
As a self-described “body stylist to the stars," Gleyzer is behind some of the best bodies in Hollywood (including Gisele Bundchen). We went one-on-one to steal some of her inspiring stay-fit secrets and to find out exactly what Washington does during one of their workouts.
SHAPE: First off, can you tell us a little bit about your training philosophy?
Nonna Gleyzer (NG): My method is gentle on the body yet very effective. It gets the body toned and strong. I push my clients hard but smart. I always tell my clients to listen to their body; you are your best doctor. If the move or exercise doesn’t feel right, stop doing it because it means it’s not right for your body! If that’s the case, then do another move that works the same group of muscles. Every workout with me works the entire body, as I never focus on just one muscle group. I work your body from head to toe, which is why so many of my clients are attracted to Pilates training. I tailor workouts for each one of my clients, and I also specialize in preventative injury and rehabilitation. I believe in being kind to your body and kind to your joints so you not only look good, you feel good too.
SHAPE: Kerry Washington looks more than good—she looks amazing! What have you been doing with her?
Kerry has been my client for six years, and she is just so dedicated, devoted, hard working, and focused on her workouts. She does Pilates as much as she can, usually three to four times a week for 60 minutes per session. She initially wanted to try Pilates because this type of training won’t put pressure on her joints, as she's pinched a nerve in her neck and shoulder area while working with another trainer. My method is gentler on the body but also keeps it toned and strong. We do a lot of work on her calves and Achilles tendon, which helps strengthen that area so you can walk longer and less painfully in heels. With all the running she does on Scandal
, that’s been so important!RELATED: Kelly Rowland's Arms and Abs Workout
SHAPE: Can you describe what a session would typically look like?
NG: I usually start with the lower body and work on quads, inner thighs, glutes, and of course the Achilles tendons to prevent injury. Then I focus on abs muscles, but only lower abs. It’s really important to focus on lower abs because they support your sacrum. When your sacrum is in place, your hips are nice and stable. And when your hips are aligned and your pelvis is strong, you won’t put any pressure on your knees or ankles. In addition to avoiding injury, you will stand up so straight and tall, so lean and beautiful. With stronger lower abs, you aren’t compensating with your neck. Whenever you see my celebs on the red carpet—just like Kerry—they walk so gracefully, their shoulders are back… that’s what makes a sexy walk, and that’s what my training does.
After the lower abs work, we’ll focus on upper arms, working the deltoids and triceps and only a little bit of biceps. We always finish with a back workout, as well as obliques for a beautiful waistline. I like women to look like natural women; they look sexy and slim but not necessarily like they pump iron at the gym. They are hard working yet elegant figures. That’s what Kerry is to me—hard working yet elegant, gentle and feminine yet so very strong. A total woman!
SHAPE: Do you also recommend a specific diet plan for Kerry?
NG: Kerry has always been an extremely healthy eater, so that comes completely natural to her. She eats a lot of vegan products, with little clean meals throughout the day. I know she also loves coconut water, which gives her potassium and important electrolytes. She focuses on lean proteins and veggies. With the long hours she works, there’s really no room for her to play around. She needs to be in the best shape every single day, and she definitely is.