The 26-year-old actress said boxing and Pilates help her keep up with the physically demanding role

By Jacqueline Andriakos
July 13, 2015 09:40 AM
Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP

Melissa Benoist‘s current workout regimen is – appropriately – fit for a superhero.

The 26-year-old actress, who stars in the upcoming CBS series Supergirl, talked all about her insane training to play the comic-book character Kara Zor-El, noting that boxing was a big part.

“I don’t think I’ve ever hit anyone before, and so I definitely had to learn technique – like how to actually punch someone and not hurt yourself more than you’re hurting the person you’re punching,” she told the crowd at the cast roundtable on Saturday at San Diego Comic-Con. “And core work and Pilates and [plyometrics], a lot of it.”

And it wasn’t only a physical transformation she experienced. The high-intensity preparation helped her get her head in the game too.

“The motivation [from working out], the drive, it definitely affects [you],” the former Glee actress said of her new mindset, spurred on by her increase in physical activity. “I don’t have a choice I can’t sit down and be like, oh, I’m done. I want some popcorn. I have to stay on top of my game.”

One of the more complicated physical components to embody Supergirl was learning how to “fly.”

“The wire work is really difficult, but so fun. And when you get it right, watching the result is exhilarating,” said Benoist. “It’s a really, really cool feeling to know what it felt like, the energy I had to exert to create those flying scenes. And then the way they look is really rewarding.”

Benoist is also trying to do some of her own stunts – while hoping to avoid injury, of course.

“I’m trying to do a lot of them because I want to. I think they’re so fun. There are some that I just can’t – I really could get injured. But I’m trying to,” she said, adding an appreciative shout-out to her stunt double (who was also the stuntwoman for Jennifer Garner on Alias!).

Some not-so-foreign territory for her is the leotard-style Supergirl costume.

“I grew up as a dancer, so it feels like a leotard and skirt and tights that I wore when I was a ballerina,” she said, adding that the corseted cape can be a bit painful sometimes.

Benoist also said she tries to incorporate her ballet training into her movements on screen. “What I think is cool is to try to bring kind of a femininity to her strength. You see Superman and it’s obviously this solid thing. But I do like the idea of bringing in like a grace to it. And a fluidity and kind of this femininity to flying. It’s fun.”

Reporting by SCOTT HUVER

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