Chelsea Handler made a mental shift with her workouts to focus on feeling strong, rather than obsessing over how she looks

By Julie Mazziotta
August 20, 2018 05:37 PM
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Credit: Ryan Hall Photography

Chelsea Handler’s workouts have a new purpose these days. Rather than exercising to look good, the comedian now focuses on feeling stronger.

Handler, 43, says she made a mental shift a few years back and started caring more about how her body performs.

“Now to me, working out is about being strong in your body for your health, while before it was about being physically looking good,” she tells PEOPLE at an event for Reebok’s new PureMove Bra, a first-of-its-kind technologically advanced sports bra. “Whereas now I’m like, I have to mentally be strong in order to work hard and get s— done. It makes you feel better. At a certain age you’re just like, okay. I mean obviously I want to look good too, but it becomes more about being mentally strong.”

The former talk show host says that her mindset changed when her schedule started filling up.

“When you’re running around and traveling a lot and working a lot and you have your hands in a bunch of different things you just have to stay strong and you don’t want to get sick and you don’t want be weak,” she says. “So that’s my whole thing. It’s just: Do everything to be strong.”

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Chelsea Handler and Jenny Mollen at Reebok’s Pure Move Bra event
| Credit: Ryan Hall Photography

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And Handler is definitely strong — even if she doesn’t fully believe it. She works out regularly with trainer Ben Bruno (who also works with model Kate Upton), and is all over his Instagram page doing weighted hip thrusts, core exercises and more.

But working with a personal trainer means Handler struggles to enjoy group exercise classes.

“I can’t work out in a class. For some reason I can’t,” she says. “And this probably sounds surprising, but I don’t think I’m competitive enough. I just want to give up and be like, I can’t I can’t do it. There’s a pace I don’t like.”

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Handler jokes that Bruno isn’t properly preparing her to keep up.

“Every time I do a workout class, if I’m traveling or something, I’ll come back and tell him, what are we doing together because I cannot keep up with a regular class, so obviously you’re not challenging me enough.”

She will, however, dominate in extreme sports, and close friend and actress Jenny Mollen calls her a “daredevil.”

“When I do outdoor stuff, like wakeboarding or paddleboarding, I’m good,” Handler says.