Olivia Colman’s portrayal of portly Queen Anne in ‘The Favourite’ — beset by clinical obesity, and riddled with gout and grief — won her the Best Actress Oscar at the 91st Academy Awards on Sunday night.
But if putting on 16 kilograms to play the part, without prosthetics, was pretty fun (“there was no technique,” Colman joked, just triple portions), shifting it after filming wrapped in 2017 was “quite depressing. Because it goes on so easily but, gosh, it doesn’t come off as easily.”
Cut to Colman clutching her Bafta and Oscar, however, and all trace of the jowly, lumbering monarch was gone. Britain’s newest national treasure didn’t just look svelte, but poised and glowing — and it was thanks to Canadian-born fitness coach, Dalton Wong (twentytwotraining.com).
Known for whittling the waists and strengthening the torsos of Hollywood heavyweights such as Jennifer Lawrence (a picture of the two of them on the set of X-Men nonchalantly hangs on the loo wall of his London studio), Wong’s style of training isn’t just about dropping weight for (or after) a role, but an inside-out approach to fitness.
Colman, like most of his A-list clientele, wanted the whole shebang — training, nutrition, physical therapy and posture enhancement, not to mention the psychological boost of daily text-message mentoring.
“The most important thing is that it’s maintainable outside of the gym — that’s how I achieve lasting results with all of my clients,” explains Wong.
So, what does a Colman workout look like? “In Olivia’s case, she wanted to change her body shape for a new role, which involved helping her to improve her strength and energy levels. And, as the workouts happened to coincide with the awards season, the posture work I incorporated into her fitness regime helped her to look amazing on the red carpet.”
Posture work involves a combination of body weight exercises to increase lean muscle mass, coupled with resistance band exercises for stability. “Posing naturally on the red carpet takes training,” explains Wong. “It’s hard work to hold your shoulders back and keep your frame upright for the cameras. As we get older, we naturally lose lean muscle mass, especially if you’re female; it’s those small muscles that support your frame that are responsible for holding a good posture.
“The secret is to deliberately, and repeatedly, strengthen the muscles that support the back, shoulders and chest until your posture unconsciously sits upright and in correct alignment. This is great training for actresses who are constantly having to pose in front of a camera. But it’s also vital for everyone in everyday life, especially if you are hunched up at a desk all day. Poor posture is one of the biggest age accelerators in today’s society and most of us are unaware of it.”
In the lead-up to her Bafta win, Olivia trained at Wong’s Kensington studio, Twenty Two Training, three times a week. Each session consisted of a 60-minute circuit training session, followed by a 30-minute physical therapy massage to release muscle tension and prevent injuries. “In a typical session with Olivia, we would start with a 15-minute warm-up using resistance bands for posture improvement and lower body stability, followed by 30-minute circuit training session designed to burn calories and improve strength and endurance.
“Each session, I would pick four resistance exercises and intersperse them with 30-second high intensity cardio intervals. Once she’d completed the first circuit twice, we would begin a second circuit of four new exercises that work different muscle groups, this time including low-intensity cardio intervals.”
The last 15 minutes is all about targeting any troublesome areas, whether that’s strengthening injuries or toning up a specific body part, explains Wong. “In Olivia’s case, she had common postural imbalances. So we used this time to focus on strengthening her lower body — hips, bum and core — using the resistance bands, which strengthens the pelvis and improves stability in the hips and knees.”
Omitting the traditional stretching session that most trainers end a workout with, Wong’s on-site physical therapist gave Colman a 30-minute soft tissue massage treatment for muscle recovery at the end of every session — part of Wong’s holistic approach to fitness. “It’s like passively stretching your muscles. Rather than spending another 15 minutes stretching, at the end of a hard workout, our physical therapist does the work for you. This way you get the emotional benefits of relaxation as well as physically benefiting from releasing tension in the fascia (soft tissue), which further improves correct posture,” explains Wong.
As for Colman’s nutrition plan, a visual food diary is the secret to her success. “It’s easy to give an actress a strict meal plan to follow, but that’s not sustainable. I prefer to adjust the meals my clients currently enjoy for the results they want — whether that’s weight loss, increased energy or better skin.
“When we first started working together, Olivia would send me photos of the meals she was eating. I would then make suggestions of how to tweak each meal for better nutritional benefits. After a few weeks, those tweaks became second nature. In my experience, clients rarely have time to do a written food diary, but it’s easy to snap a picture of your meal on your phone,” explains Wong.
The tweaks he typically makes involve editing the proportion of food groups on each plate. “I would make sure that Olivia was eating enough protein at every meal with the right proportion of carbohydrates, fat and fibre. Generally speaking, clients tend to eat too many starchy carbs or excess amounts of healthy fats. An ideal plate of food should have a fist-sized amount of healthy carbohydrates such as rice, quinoa or sweet potato, with the same amount of protein and double the amount of vegetables. Making sure to include a small portion of healthy fats such as avocado, nuts and seeds for glowing skin and hormone regulation.”
An ongoing dialogue that’s designed to make healthy eating second nature, daily check-ins are part of Wong’s A-list service. “After Olivia began implementing my changes, I would ask her: ‘Did you feel satisfied? Were you hungry in between meals? Have you noticed an improvement in your mood?’ It’s a team spirit that teaches clients how to eat well in the real world, not in the celebrity world,” he emphasises.
As Britain’s newest national treasure rounds off her triumphant awards season tomorrow night, there’s no doubt that at 45, she is looking and feeling her best yet.
“Dalton has changed the way I look at fitness and nutrition,” says Colman, of her newfound body confidence. “He’s been an absolute rock to me and helped me change my body shape completely. He definitely delivers.”
We can see that.