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7 Body-Sculpting Tricks From Danai Gurira for a Strong and Inspiring Physique

The diet and exercise behind her “tough chick” appearance.

Black Panther star Danai Gurira has a history of playing strong, powerful women—and she absolutely looks the part, thanks to a hardcore training regimen worthy of a warrior. Gurira, 45, is known for roles where her physical strength is key to the performance. This is just one reason why she revels in having a toned, muscular body that can effortlessly wield a katana or run for miles. So how does she do it? This is what it takes to have Gurira's amazing physique.


Pilates and Circuit Training

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Gurira exercises with personal trainer AJ Fisher four times a week. Fisher puts the actress through a circuit training/Pilates-inspired workout, using a heart rate monitor and resistance bands. "If I haven't worked out, if I haven't exercised and connected with my body in some way, it chips away at my feeling of well-being," she says.


Swimming Sessions


Gurira was inspired to start swimming when she saw her sister doing it. "I don't remember ever not being able to swim," she says."I jumped in the water and was insistent on learning to swim with her. It's a stunning form of exercise, and the lack of impact on the body at the same time is amazing."


The Walking Dead Training

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Gurira trained to effectively wield a heavy sword for her role in The Walking Dead. "The power comes from the way you pivot your hips. Your feet have to be well placed, your shoulders dropped, your core engaged," she says. "And your arms have to be very precise. My katana is solid steel, so it's like swinging a 5-foot-long dumbbell."


Tough Chick

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Gurira grew up playing tennis, field hockey, and running track. "I've always been a bit of a tough chick," she says. "That's what made me work for the part of Michonne. Taking care of my body, knowing I'll never get another, is one of my top priorities. I'm happiest when I feel strong. And I do what I need to do to get there."


Mostly Vegan Diet


Gurira follows what she calls a "pesca-vegan" diet, having given up dairy and most meat except fish years ago. "I used to have spinach when I was a kid, and my mom wouldn't let me leave the table until I'd eaten it," she says. "Somehow that worked its way into me feeling like I have to eat spinach. And now I love spinach—I mean, I love spinach. I want it in my smoothies, I want it on the side, I want it with my meals."


At Least 20 Minutes of Exercise a Day


Gurira never travels without her mat, dumbbells, and workout DVDs. "There's always enough time in the day to get in a 20-minute workout," she says. "I've trained in my garage, my living room, in a pool and even an underground parking garage. It never stops!"


Focusing On Strength

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Gurira loves feeling strong from her workouts, even when she isn't motivated to do them. "It's not like, 'Oh, I'm in so much pain from that,'" she says. "It's like, 'Oh, I feel the strength in my core, I feel the strength in my back.' As women, we're not always encouraged to find the fullest extent of our physical power. There's something so exciting about tapping into that part of ourselves." 


Ferozan Mast
Ferozan Mast is a science, health and wellness writer with a passion for making science and research-backed information accessible to a general audience. Read more
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