BARBIE is finally here and we can’t stop talking about the epic outfits, inspiring speeches and all-round female empowerment.
But there’s another thing that’s caught people’s attention – Margot Robbie’s enviable physique.
The 33-year-old plays ‘stereotypical’ Barbie and brings her to life in dazzling outfits, from all-pink ensembles to the one-piece and cycling shorts combo, that show off her toned, slender bod.
To find out how the Australian actress got in shape for the movie, I went behind the scenes with PT and sports nutritionist David Higgins, who revealed his workout secrets.
Speaking from his London gym Bodyspace, he said he didn’t have a brief per se for his role as personal trainer and instead applied his own exercise ethos to help the whole Barbie cast reap results.
“When you’re training a new body for the first time with a specific character role in mind, the most important thing is to build resilience so they’re able to come back every day, and the best way to do that is to have a healthy and strong core,” he said.
Higgins said that generally speaking, the goals for guys are ‘beach muscles’, while it’s more ‘bums and arms’ for the girls.
But in Margot’s case, her aim was to feel confident on camera and the aesthetics come secondary to the hard work, he said.
Higgins – or ‘Higgo’ as Margot to call him – first met the star on the set of The Legend of Tarzan movie in 2015, but the focus was different this time around.
“Margot is very physically aware because she’s been doing this for such a long period of time, so I don’t have to teach her to do certain things – she already knows the rules,” he said.
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To warm up, Higgins takes me through a foam rolling sequence so I’m less likely to get injured.
How often does Margot Robbie work out?
The fitness coach, who has an impressive roster of clients – from Samuel L Jackson and Scarlett Johansson to Pedro Pascal and Claudia Schiffer – started training Margot in January 2022 to get her in the best shape possible for Barbie.
They’d work out at least five days a week, Higgins said he likes to do at least 35 hours within a four to six-week period for his celeb clients.
No stranger to hard work, Margot also spent a lot of time in the gym for her role in I, Tonya, where the focus was reportedly on building strength in her legs for turns and spins.
But because Margot had to act plastic and doll-like, Higgins placed a lot of emphasis on workouts that were good for posture, like reformer Pilates, which uses a machine and is generally more dynamic than the kind you do on a mat.
“[With reformer Pilates], I can adjust and correct form very easily versus on the floor,” he said.
“It’s low impact so it’s great for people who have injuries in their joints.
“I can also modify the moves to be easier or harder very quickly using the springs or adjusting your body, so it’s kind of an all-in-one machine I like to use where everything is isolated and targeted.”
As a reformer Pilates novice, I was nervous to get on the machine.
But with Higgins’ tactile approach to training, I soon felt at ease as he guided me through the moves he does with all Barbies and Kens.
David’s 40-minute reformer Pilates routine:
- Foam roll sequence (warm up)
- Stretching and core engagement on the reformer
- Thighs and upper body work
- Upper back stabilising
- Side splits and skating to target the thighs and bum on each leg
- Long loop spine series (feet in the air and in the loops going around in circles)
- Calf stretches
I’m used to high-impact and cardio workouts, so it was a real gear-change to do a more disciplined practice that focuses on small moves.
I quickly learned that core strength is a key fundamental to Pilates, and Higgins kept having to remind me to stabilise from my core to activate my glutes.
And, it’s no surprise that I really felt it the next day, especially in my outer glutes, which I tend to neglect in my traditional strength workouts.
It seems as though Margot is the poster girl for a strong core as she ranked top of the leaderboard for the longest plank out of all her castmates.
She managed to hold the agonising position for a staggering four minutes and 10 seconds – far longer than co-star Ryan Gosling’s three minutes and two seconds.
“For everyone, everywhere, core should be the first focus,” said Higgins.
“Once you have control of that, then you’re moving out from a solid anchor point, which makes you more fundamental to your movement patterns and at less risk of injury.”
For that strong and healthy core, Higgins took me through a 100-rep ab workout “just for fun”, and my core was on fire afterwards.
- 20 crunch pulses
- 20 toe taps with legs in the air
- 20 reach-and-pulse on the left leg
- 20 reach-and-pulse on the right leg
- 20 crunches with both feet in the air
“The one thing that surprises me about Margot is how she’s on top of the world right now, but you’d never know it,” Higgins said.
“Meaning, I don’t know if it’s an Aussie thing, or where you’re raised, but it never goes to your head and she’s absolutely lovely whatever stage or side of the production you’re on.
“She’s exactly what she says she is, which is rare in the industry, let’s put it that way.”
After training with Higgins for just two days, I can see why Margot comes back to him again and again.
His method clearly works – it’s varied, produces results and most importantly, his clients enjoy the sessions.
Even though I might not have been jumping around and getting out of breath like I would in a HIIT session, I left Higgins feeling as though I’d really worked and wondering, what can’t Barbie do?