When GLOW, a series about the 1980’s women’s pro wrestling circuit by the same name, hit Netflix last month, we were amazed by the characters’ eye-popping physical stunts. GLOW stars Alison Brie as Ruth Wilder, a down-on-her-luck actress who takes a job in the new eccentric wrestling show, despite the fact that she has zero wrestling experience. As you might imagine, Wilder gets tossed around the ring and slammed to the floor by competitors twice her size. So when we learned that Brie performed all her own stunts, we were even more impressed!
To find out how Brie prepped for the demanding role, we called her trainer, Jason Walsh. It was his job to get the 5’3″ actress ready to take a (highly choreographed) beating. “We had to make her resilient, and in making her resilient, I wanted to make sure that she was really strong,” he explains. “The type of stunt work that she was doing was like jumping off a rope and landing on her back. My game plan was ultimately to get her as strong as possible.”
Luckily, Brie was up for pretty much anything (much like her character in GLOW). And that’s an essential trait when you’re training at this level, says Walsh: “She’s probably one of the easiest people to work with. She comes in with the best attitude, she works her ass off, and keeps a smile on her face. I don’t have to convince her. She shows up and does the work.”
Here, Walsh shares four key exercises that helped Brie get in fighting shape.
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Stand with feet hip-width apart, knees slightly bent, and a kettlebell or weight on floor. Push your hips back, and squat to grab kettlebell or weight (overhand grip). Keeping your head up, arms extended, and back flat, stand up, pushing your heels into the floor. Lower back to start and repeat. Watch the clip below of Brie deadlifting a whopping 165(!) pounds.
Walsh favored complex, compound exercises that require the entire body to work—and weighted sleds are a perfect tool for that. Pushing a sled involves everything from your hand muscles to your toes, says Walsh. To start, stand in front of the sled with feet staggered, a slight bend in your knees. Hinge forward slightly and place hand on the sled. Drive your legs forward as you push.
Farmer’s Walks (and Piggybacks)
Picture 5’3″ Brie with 65-pound dumbbells in each hand, and 220-pound Walsh riding on her back—talk about a full-body exercise. “She’s walking me back and down a track, which takes about 45 seconds, and that’s a lot of time and attention,” Walsh says. “She was just so dialed in on her form and everything, it was great.”
To do a farmer’s walk, squat between a pair of dumbbells, keeping your chest up and back straight. Grip them tightly and stand up, lifting with your hips. Walk forward with quick short steps.
Brie showed off her farmer’s walk (sans rider) on Instagram:
Hip thrusts (aka hip bridges) are the best way to target the glutes, says Walsh, and “[glutes] are really the most important muscle to me in the body.” That’s because they’re the largest muscle group, he explains: “The stronger we can get the glutes, it really transfers to everything that we do.”
To do hip thrusts, lay on your back on a mat with your knees bent, feet parallel, and palms down on the mat. Raise your hips to the the ceiling. Try to keep a straight line from your knees to your shoulders. Slowly lower your hips down.