'Black Panther' star Danai Gurira's workout is fit for a warrior

Danai Gurira is strong, sexy and can kick major butt on the big screen, but if you want the “Black Panther” actor’s body you are going to have to work for it — like, really hard. Gurira, who played the role of Okoye in the Marvel hit, recently revealed her empowering, no-pain no-gain fitness regimen. And let’s just say that her workouts are worthy of the warrior she portrays in the film.

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Intense “Corectolgy” Workouts

Gurira works out four times a week with trainer AJ Fisher, who specializes in a method she calls “Corectology,” aimed at evening out muscle imbalances while improving strength, mobility and cardiovascular function. Just how hardcore is an average workout session for the actress? “Sometimes it’s so intense I can’t remember what we did,” Gurira told Women’s Health magazine. That sounds pretty serious to us!

Here’s what Gurira usually does: circuit training paired with Pilates-inspired moves alternated with high-intensity intervals and active rest. Her trainer also uses “paired muscles” training — for example, doing obliques and inner thighs together — “so you’re training your body to work together as a unit.” She also does work on her glutes during every session because “it’s the biggest muscle in the body and key for posture and balance,” explains Fisher. In addition to her rigorous sweat sessions with her trainer, Gurira also enjoys doing yoga and jogging with her dog. Like we said before, intense and totally warrior-worthy.

Motivation Is Key

Despite the fact that Gurira doesn’t love working out all of the time, focusing on the way it makes her feel keeps her motivation going. “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 explained. Instead of dwelling on her post-workout soreness — because with her workout there has to be a lot of it — Gurira looks at the positive. “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.’”

Working Out Is Empowering

Gurira also totally subscribes to the strong-is-sexy way of thinking, finding her workouts empowering. “As women, we’re not always encouraged to find the fullest extent of our physical power,” she says. “There’s something so exciting about tapping into that part of ourselves.”

Shem Is a “Pesca-Vegan”

As for her diet, Gurira describes herself loosely as a “pesca-vegan.” She explains that giving up most meat and dairy products years ago made her feel “stronger.” She also explains that her parents instiled healthy and well-balanced eating habits in her as a child, forcing her to eat spinach. “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 explains. “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.”

Her Fitness Advice for Other Women

While Gurira’s exercises of choice may not be for everyone, she encourages women to explore a variety of activities — “it might be lifting weights, it might be boxing, it might be something a little less [intense]”— and you don’t have to throw yourself into it. “There’s no need to break records tomorrow. It’s just about slowly finding what feels good and what feels rewarding.”

Read more: 12 Lady Celebs Who Can Weightlift Like No One’s Business

About the Author

Leah Groth is a writer and editor currently based in Philadelphia. She has covered topics such as entertainment, parenting, health & wellness for xoJane, Babble, Radar, Fit Pregnancy, Mommy Nearest, Living Healthy and PopDust.