Viola Davisdelivered one of the greatest performances of 2020 as blues legend Ma Rainey in Netflix’s Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. The Oscar-winning actress, 55, revealed she gained some weight in preparation for the role, but turned to Gabriela Mclain to help her get “back in shape” post filming. “Love my amazing trainer, Gabriela Mclain! She played a major role in getting me back in shape after gaining weight to play Ma Rainey,” Viola tweeted on December 17. The celeb trainer recently sat down with HollywoodLife for an exclusive interview about her workouts with Viola.
“She is my hero, and now really knowing her, she is amazing. The way she is as an actor is the way she is as a human being. Not only is she an amazing actress but she is cool, somebody that you just want to hang out with,” Gabriela said of her client, revealing that training helps the Oscar-winner build confidence. “The more she is training, the more she is capable of doing stuff that she wasn’t capable of when we started. Even though it is hard she still [does] it. That is what builds confidence.”
Gabriela revealed that Viola was “extremely disciplined” when she got back in the gym after her incredible turn in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. “She is focused and is extremely disciplined. She just does whatever I tell her to do and she executes it to perfection every single time and she keeps going until she figures it all out,” the PT explained. “She is a hard working woman.” Viola is now training for her upcoming role in The Woman King, and Gabriela said she was going to “look bad ass.”
“Right now she is in regular Viola shape because she trains three times a week … then she throws cardio in between and then she does some stretches and stays on top of her nutrition,” Gabriela explained, adding that she, “eats clean and is disciplined.” As for her workout schedule: “So Monday is cardio, wake the body up from the weekend. [We do] a lot of kickboxing and kicks, we use bags and light weights … [Viola] has limited breaks, we want to get her heart rate up and stay there.” Gabriela revealed they “don’t take breaks” while training. “For one hour we try to have the heart stay in the same zone.”
She went on to explain that Wednesday was for strength training. “We do 35 seconds of movement and then a 10 second break. When we start with the legs that will help in fat burning … we do weights but nothing super heavy, 25 pounds is probably the heaviest.” On Fridays, the pair focus on workouts with resistance. “I will put 5 pound ankle weights on her feet so she has the resistance on the bottom and top of her body,” Gabriela revealed. “[It is] more of a dynamic workout with the resistance bands [and] we always finish it off with a little stretch and that is pretty much it. I treat her body like an athlete, if you want to train, you have to follow the blueprints of an athlete.”