Everyone’s favorite Dawson’s Creek star is newly into weight lifting and boxing.
I’d heard the rumors: Katie Holmes some serious biceps. I needed proof.
We’re at a swank lounge in NYC’s Mandarin Oriental hotel, where expensively groomed guests are sipping artisan cocktails. Katie, clutching her ever-present paper coffee cup, is more casual: jeans, a frilly denim shirt, sneakers. I decide to give it a shot and obnoxiously ask her to flex for me.
She is apologetic, saying, “I haven’t worked out for awhile.” But then she pulls up her sleeve and displays the startling combination of litheness and sinew she’s developed while prepping for a new role—an action-thriller, still under wraps, in which she plays an ex-marine. (It’s been a busy year, including the current Dear Dictator with Michael Caine and Ocean’s Eight, coming out this summer.)
Katie has called her new character a “warrior” in the press, and considering her life over the past few years, you get the feeling that concept personally resonates. I first interviewed Katie in 2003, right at the end of Dawson’s Creek, and the woman before me today is not far removed from that girl of 15 years ago: sunny, wry, and ebullient, with the melting brunette beauty that inspired makeup guru Bobbi Brown to call her “the modern-day Ali MacGraw.”
Could that glow have something to do with her reported relationship with actor Jamie Foxx?
Whatever the source, these days Katie is reveling in the strength of her upcoming role, having snipped her long, dark locks into a pixie and started lifting weights to develop her upper body. “Which I’ve never wanted to do,” she laughs. “But I wanted to be authentic to a person who trained in the military. Which means someone who wasn’t always paying attention to the mirror and who was in shape not for vanity, but because that’s what her job called for.”
So the new tagline is “Katie Holmes kicks ass”? It doesn’t sound as natural as “Katie Holmes bakes cookies” or even “Katie Holmes has a stuffed animal collection” (“I still love stuffed animals,” she admits). But she’s working on it.
And it is work. She would be lying if she told you that exercise is dear to her heart. Here is The Stars Are Just Like Us, Exercise Edition: Katie Holmes doesn’t really love to work out just for the sake of working out. (She also doesn’t love copping to that fact—but we relate there, too.) She does have a lot to live up to in that department.
Katherine Noelle Holmes grew up in Toledo, Ohio, the youngest of five kids in a family of jocks; she spent her youth with crayons and paper, drawing in drafty gyms while she cheered on her siblings in basketball. She sang and danced her way through high school.
But when her dad decided, at 45, to run the Boston Marathon for the first time, with her older brother, she paid attention. “I was 13 or 14, and I was like, ‘Wow.’ That had a huge impact.” So much so that in her twenties, Katie trained for and ran the New York City Marathon. “I thought, My gosh, I want to do that. If they can do it, I’m not gonna let them have that over me.”
She hasn’t felt the need to repeat the feat, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t cool. “It was incredible, going through all the different boroughs. You feel like you’re part of a pack, and you’re inspired by other people—and the people in wheelchairs. But it’s also. . .I remember hitting mile 20 and just crying, like, ‘There’s no way—I can’t do six more miles.’ But I did.”
Nowadays, working out is usually a group activity—classes, especially SoulCycle—”because I like that sense of community,” Katie explains. Being surrounded by other people adds an element of inspiration, “like, if she can do it, I can do it too.”
Self gives us a way to ramp up your weight training just like our beautiful Katie!
Plus, the benefits of lifting heavier
Next month, Katie Holmes returns to the big screen as an ex-marine in the action-thriller The Doorman. To prepare for the character, which Holmes has described as a “warrior” in the press, the actor seriously upped her fitness game, especially in the weight room.
“I was a 5-pound weight person and now I can do 15, 20,” ”Holmes told Women’s Health when describing her two-hour personal training sessions that included “lots of crunches, dumbbells, and squats.”
There are many benefits to stepping up your weight training like Holmes—but it’s important to do so slowly, carefully, and thoughtfully to avoid injury and ensure you’re getting the most out of your efforts.
“You should aim for baby steps with the weight increase,” Courtney Paul, NYC-based certified personal trainer who previously trained Holmes, tells SELF. [Paul did not work with Holmes for The Doorman.]
Before you even think about adding extra weight to your fitness routine, it’s important to make sure that you’re able to execute movements with the proper form, Mark DiSalvo, NYC-based certified strength and conditioning specialist, tells SELF. “The biggest mistake when it comes to amping up weight training is a mentality of ‘more weight, more weight, more weight,’” says DiSalvo. “The best progress comes from the best form.”
When you’re doing squats, for example, your knees should be aligned with your toes, your core should be braced, and your back should maintain its natural curvature as you lower yourself down. Many people, however, make the common mistakes of caving their knees in and rounding their backs, which can put undue stress on your knees, lower back, and hips, and lead to muscle imbalances and injury over time.