The Secret to Kelly Clarkson’s Dramatic Slim-Down
Get the workout that helped the superstar singer lose weight and gain confidence
Things couldn't possibly be any ‘Stronger' for Kelly Clarkson: new song, new TV show, new tour, new boyfriend, new hair, new bod! Thanks to an intense workout routine and portion-controlled diet, the two-time Grammy winner recently shed weight and couldn't be more excited.
What's the secret to her slimmer silhouette? We spoke with the powerhouse personal trainer behind Clarkson's fab figure, Nora James, to talk about all things fitness.
SHAPE: So great to connect with you! To begin, how long have you been working with Kelly, and what were her fitness goals?
Nora James (NJ): I have been with Kelly for five months. She just wanted to get back in shape and feel good. When you're on the road, sometimes you get so busy that exercise isn't your focus unless someone is there to remind you and work with you. All you have to do is look at Kelly and you see the results. The goal was to help her get on track with eating and exercise, and I believe with five months to work with we did a great job! There were never any specific weight-loss goals. She wanted more energy and to be healthy.
SHAPE: She looks amazing, by the way! Can you give us some insight on how she was able to get back in shape, lose weight, and successfully keep it off?
NJ: She does look great! I feel a trainer and a client have to be willing to work together through the rough times of getting fit because it's tough at first to get your mind and body wanting to cooperate with change. Your client has to trust you and be willing to do a true lifestyle change! Eat right and exercise. It's hard work but well worth it. That is the only way to keep it off.
SHAPE: So what type of workouts did you do?
NJ: Our workouts were different each day. I always get bored doing the same old workout so when I train, I like to keep my clients wondering what's next. I was raised around boxing so that's always a part of the workout. Lots of strength cardio. There is nothing better than feeling the muscles work and your heartbeat going as if you just got off the treadmill! It is amazing how just the right workout combination can totally change your appearance.
SHAPE: Kelly has such a busy schedule! How often was she able to work out?
NJ: We started doing an hour a day and then we went to two hours a day, because we knew that her schedule was going to get hectic. We would also run or hike with the workout. I was on the road with her during her first tour this year, and then we were in California while she was working on Duets. So me traveling with her helped as far as the ability to have some type of a workout program set.
SHAPE: Did you have her on any special diet? What was a typical breakfast, lunch, and dinner?
NJ: I don't believe in diets. I just believe in being healthy! I had lots of fruits, vegetables, assorted raw nuts, and seeds always on hand. Breakfast (depending on the day) would be an egg white omelet with spinach and hot sauce, or oatmeal with fruit and a slice of whole-grain bread. Lunch was a good-sized salad and always had chicken or fish in it. If she got a sweet tooth, she would have a small dessert. In between meals, we'd have a piece of fruit with about 10 raw nuts. Dinner was grilled fish and quinoa with veggies mixed in it. This is just a small sample.
SHAPE: We all lead such busy lives, and it can be really hard to keep up with our exercise routine. What is your advice for those of us who just don't have a ton of time to work out?
NJ: My best advice I can give to anyone trying to get healthy is to look at food as the medicine to cure an ailment, not to feed emotions or boredom. Treat exercise like its part of your job…without a job you can't survive, and without your health you eventually can't have a job. Be consistent with healthy eating and exercise. This should become your lifestyle. Don't stress about it and don't get on the scale every day. Above all don't lose weight for someone, because that someone may not always be there...do it for you!
SHAPE: What's the biggest thing you've learned from training all of your clients over the years?
NJ: The one big thing I've learned with all my clients is that everyone has time to exercise. Time management is the key. A person can spend more time acting busy but not really being busy. A person can tell you how busy they are and within that time they could have done a full workout. You should know that YOU are very important! So take the time for YOU!
So now that you promise to take more time for YOU, check out a sample of Kelly Clarkson's workout on the next page to get you started! Special thanks to Nora James for sharing. Get ready to sweat-this one's a toughie!
The Kelly Clarkson Weight-Loss Workout
You'll Need: An exercise mat, boxing bag, boxing gloves, medicine ball, water bottle
How it Works: This sample Kelly Clarkson workout should be done as a super set, with little to no rest in between each move. With each exercise, push yourself to the limit and do as many as you can. Remember to always use good form. When the form is lost, you know you have done enough.
1. Ball Pushup Hand to Hand:
Take a plank, or pushup, position on the floor. Roll a medicine ball underneath one hand with the other hand resting on the floor. Lower down into a pushup until you can feel tension in both sides of your chest. Make sure to not tilt your shoulders. You must engage your core to keep from drooping through your center.
From the bottom of your pushup, press back up to the starting position. Hold for one full second at the top, then switch the ball to the other hand and go down again. Repeat.
Complete as many as you can, but no less than 25.
2. Mountain Climbers
Come to a hands and knees position on the floor with your toes pointed toward the floor. Your hands should be slightly ahead of your shoulders. Bring your left foot forward and place it on the floor under your chest. Your knee and hip are bent and your thigh is in toward your chest. Lift your right knee off the ground, making your right leg straight and strong.
Keeping your hands firmly on the ground, jump to switch leg positions. Both feet leave the ground as you drive your right knee forward and reach your left leg back. Now your left leg is fully extended behind you and your right knee and hip are bent with your right foot on the floor.
Complete as many as you can, but no less than 50.
3. Crazy 8 Lunges
Stand with feet about shoulder-width apart. Hold a medicine ball in front of you with elbows bent about 90 degrees. Step forward with your left foot into a lunge position. From your torso, twist your upper body to the left. Then, reach across your left side with your arms out-stretched as if you're tracing an "8" in the air. Step forward with the opposite foot while you're twisting to the other side.
Complete 25 reps.
4. Jump Squats
Stand up straight and bend your knees slightly, but make sure that your back stays straight. Lower into a squat, keeping your hips back, back straight, and your head facing forward. Immediately jump upwards. Reach upward as high as you can with your hands as your feet leave the floor. Land in the same position you started in. Swing your arms back and immediately repeat the second step.
Complete as many as you can, but no less than 25.
5. Boxing Cardio Burst
Put on your boxing gloves and do a series of hooks into a punching bag, alternating each arm back and forth. For the more advanced, alternate with double or triple hooks on each side. If you don't have gloves or a bag, just do the movements as if you did.
Box as fast as you can for 3 minutes.
6. Squats with Jumping Jacks
Start in jumping jack position with arms straight above your head and legs together. Jump out into a squat position while simultaneously bringing your arms straight down to your sides. Your forearms will hit your legs. Make sure your weight is in your heels and your knees do not go over your toes. Then jump back up into the starting position. Remember to keep your naval pulled into your spine.
Complete 25 reps.
7. Erase the Board
Get is sit-up position holding a medicine ball in both hands. Make sure you find your center of balance and then raise your feet off the floor
so that you are balancing on your buttocks. Hold the medicine ball out in front of you with straight arms. Twist the torso to the left and then to the right, reaching and planting the medicine ball on the floor each side.
Complete as many as you can without breaking form.
8. Boxing Cardio Burst
Box for three more minutes, then rest and go back to the beginning of the workout to complete a total of 3 to 5 sets.