It's always fascinating to hear how celebs stay fit. That's why when we had the chance to talk to Valerie Cruz about her new role as Zitajalehrena "Zee" Alvarez, a no-nonsense Latina doctor who trains American doctors to practice medicine in the third world, on the new ABC medical drama Off the Map, we were thrilled.

Turns out, Valerie's fitness routine isn't just about looking good on TV. She's a bit of a fitness junkie, who loves an active lifestyle and uses exercise to de-stress and reconnect. In fact, she's a former group exercise instructor and personal trainer, so she even schooled us a bit. Read on for her top workout and diet tips!

Use your own bodyweight. Some of Valerie's favorite exercises are squats, jumps and other legwork on a Bosu or on the ground. Why? You don't have the added strain of extra weight, but can still build muscle. "You're not lifting more than your body is carrying around all day anyways, so you're less prone to injury," she says.

Interval it up. If you want to do less yet see more results, Valerie swears by interval training where you crank up your intensity and then recover. She says that just a 25-minute session gives her a far better workout and a lot more energy later as compared with a steady-state long run.

Get your greens! Valerie is a huge fan of green veggies, and recently has been obsessed with arugula. She's also into juicing, and has been religiously juicing her favorite veggies for the past few years. The benefits are amazing, she says. "I noticed a difference in my body - how I feel, how my skin looks. I eat tons of green veggies to keep my PH balance in check."

Try Pilates. After a back injury forced Valerie to cut back on hard-core workouts like kickboxing, running and Spin class, she fell in love with Pilates while filming Off the Map in Hawaii. "It's different for me to go from sweating it out in Spin class to slowing down, but I'm working out much more effectively now. I'm burning calories and not getting all that wear and tear on my body at the same time."

Listen to your body. While it's good to push your limits in the gym, it's never a good idea to ignore the signals your body is sending you, Valerie says. "The best thing I've learned is that you have to listen to your body and you have to be your own physician. Don't ignore those little groaning aches and pains." She recommends working more mind-body moves from Pilates into your routine or taking a day off here or there when you need it.

Be sure to watch Valerie in her new series Off the Map on Wednesdays at 10/9 p.m. Central on ABC!

Photo: Russell Baer


Jennipher Walters is the CEO and co-founder of the healthy living websites and A certified personal trainer, lifestyle and weight management coach and group exercise instructor, she also holds an MA in health journalism and regularly writes about all things fitness and wellness for various online publications.