Tracee Ellis Ross' Latest Knee-Friendly Workout Also Featured an Unexpected Celeb Cameo

The Black-ish star doesn't miss a step even when she spots a famous BFF nearby.

Photo: Getty Images

Whether she's struggling through side planks (stars, they're just like us!) or ramping up her resistance training, Tracee Ellis Ross gives her all at the gym. And while her jaw-dropping intensity is undeniably motivational, the best part of the actress' sweat-inducing routines is the fact that she seems to always find some way to laugh — or, at least, make somebody laugh. Case in point? Ellis Ross' latest Instagram post, which likely left her 10.5 million followers giggling too.

On Sunday, the Black-ish star posted a video of her recent workout, in which she's seen walking backward while holding onto her trainer, Devin Wiggins of Rise Movement Studio in Los Angeles. In addition to taking Wiggins along for the so-called ride, Ellis Ross is also wearing a resistance band on her thighs to really up the ante. But even with these challenges, the 48-year-old doesn't miss a step, even when she spots Brie Larson working out virtually with a trainer nearby. "Is that Brie? What?!? Miss Larson?!" Ellis Ross shouts, continuing to power through her exercises. "Hi my friend! We were texting yesterday." (Yes, the two are longtime pals, and it's okay if you have some FOMO over this fierce friendship because how could you not?!)

In her caption, Ellis Ross gives the Captain Marvel star another shout-out, also thanking Wiggins for helping her through the move. "I 'ran into' my friend at the gym. Hi @brielarson," she wrote, adding, "Thank you @risemovement @devinwiggins for letting me pull you around and for giving my knees a safe place to be." (

The Pattern Beauty founder has been open about her "bad knees," even turning her paper gown from a recent visit to her "ortho doctor" into a high fashion moment last month on Instagram. And while she's previously posted about how "sometimes it's just easier to keep [her] leg straight," Ellis Ross seems to have no problem (as far as a viewer can tell) during her recent resistance workout. And that makes sense, especially since walking backward is fairly low-impact, putting minimal pressure on one's knees. But even if you don't have any knee or leg sensitivities, you might still want to incorporate backward walks into your routine, too.

Several studies have noted the full-body benefits of switching up your direction whether you're walking or running, provided, of course, that you do so with safety in mind. Think: workout in a clutter-free space. A 2012 study published in the Journal of Biomechanics found that backward running put less strain on the knees of the study's 20 participants, reducing their anterior knee pain (aka pain in the front and center of the knee) compared to forward running, likely due to a reduction in impact with each step as they moved. (

Walking backward has similar benefits, as evidenced by the results of a 2005 study published in the International Journal of Sports Medicine and a 2020 study published by researchers at the People's Hospital of Deyang City's Department of Orthopedics in Deyang, China. The IJSM study found that participants who tried a combo of running and walking backward showed improvements in both their cardiorespiratory fitness and body composition. And the 2020 study showed that walking backward helped patients with knee osteoarthritis (a type of joint disease) improve balance and their symptoms. (And on a similar note, check out this dynamic Tabata workout that improves your balance too.)

Whether you're recovering from injury or simply want to switch things up during your next gym sesh, consider taking cues from Ellis Ross and challenge yourself to walk backward with ample resistance. Though you probably won't spot a Hollywood A-lister working out on Zoom nearby, you'll crush a killer workout without stressing your joints in the process.

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