How Katie Holmes Got Ripped to Play an Ex-Marine

When you hear the name Katie Holmes, the image of a “rugged gym rat” does not spring instantly to mind. But that is all about to change.

For her new role as an ex-Marine in the upcoming action thriller “The Doorman,” the 39-year-old actress is kicking herself into fighting shape. On top of ditching her long, silky locks for an edgy pixie cut, Holmes has started a weightlifting regimen to get the upper-body definition of a career combatant.

“Which I’ve never wanted to do,” she tells Women’s Health for its April cover story. “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.”

From the Girl Next Door to Ex-Marine

Holmes chose to not mess around when it came to getting the job done. With the help of a trainer, she would spend up to two hours at the gym doing crunches and squats and lifting dumbbells. “I was a five-pound-weight person, and now I can do 15, 20.”

And we can definitely get behind the empowering workout that has become one of her new faves. “I’ve been doing a lot of boxing, which I had never done before. It’s thrilling. You can get out the stress of the day. I just go in there and think of all the mundane things that bother me. Traffic!” she says. “I put off all my phone calls till after boxing, because it puts me in a much calmer place.”

Like Father, Like Daughter

The former “Dawson’s Creek” star hasn’t always been into working out, though. Growing up, she preferred drawing, singing and dancing to sports and exercise.

But seeing her dad run the Boston Marathon at the age of 45 (along with her older brother) awakened her competitive spirit. “I was 13 or 14, and I was like, ‘Wow.’ That had a huge impact,” she says. “I thought, ‘My gosh, I want to do that. If they can do it, I’m not gonna let them have that over me.’”

So in her 20s, Holmes trained for and ran the New York City Marathon. “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,” she says. “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.” And though it was an epic experience, Holmes does not seem anxious to repeat it.

But the camaraderie she felt during that run clearly left a lasting impression, and she now enjoys group workouts like SoulCycle. “Because I like that sense of community,” Holmes says. “Like, if she can do it, I can do it too.”

While we are all about steady-state cardio sessions, there’s no denying the advantages of mixing a little weightlifting into your routine. Not only can you gain some serious strength, but it can also boost your metabolism, fight depression and lower your risk of chronic illnesses like diabetes and heart disease.

And don’t even get us started on boxing (a trend we totally saw coming, by the way). Not only is it a killer cardio and full-body workout, but as Holmes attests, it also fights stress and anxiety and gives a boost to your self-confidence.

So the next time you hit the gym, take a hint from Katie Holmes’ Marine regimen and pick up those weights and/or boxing gloves. Because getting inspired by one of your favorite awkward childhood idols attaining a realistic level of badassness is the perfect motivation!

About the Author

Hoku Krueger is a freelance writer who specializes in mental health, wellness and pop culture.