Build a Superstar Body Like Kerry Washington
“I think one of the things that makes Kerry a brilliant actress is that she does really inhabit the characters that she plays,” says Bloom, owner of Erika Bloom Pilates Plus in New York City. “So with every character, there have been ways that her body has reacted and that we’ve worked on that to make her feel better.” -Erika Bloom
To wit, when Kerry starred in “Race,” a Broadway play by David Mamet, her body was tested from the ground up. “She wore 4-inch heels on a rigged stage, which means it’s angled forward,” Bloom says. “It was as though she was wearing 9-inch heels and she was starting to have some imbalances from the biomechanics of what she had to do.”
“In standing in bare feet, we’re working on stacking the bones so that the muscles can work in a more balanced way,” she says. “Heels change that component a little but you can still find the most ideal arrangement of the skeleton so there aren’t compensations that cause pain and tightness.”
Bloom worked on restoring the mobility in Kerry’s feet and ankle joints because, she says, the foot doesn’t go through the proper range of motion when you’re in a heel. “If you’re not restoring range of motion in the foot, that’s what ends up creating these stiff, shuffle-y walks as you get older,” Bloom says. (Are you a high-heel devotee? Try these foot and ankle exercises from Bloom.)
Bloom also works with Kerry on core strength, but she takes a unique approach: focusing on the deeper abdominal muscles.
“There’s been a lot of really definitive research in the last 10 years that the superficial muscles of the core—like the rectus abdominis, the obliques, and the lats—should not be our core stabilizers,” Bloom says. “They are our moving muscles and we should leave them for doing the movements that they’re meant to do.”
The deep core muscles that Bloom addresses are the pelvic floor, diaphragm, multifidi—a group of muscles that attach to the spine and stabilize it—and the transverse abdominis.
“The beauty about working those muscles is that they actually will lengthen, narrow, and flatten your tummy, because those are the muscles that compress the organs and pull them up into the rib cage,” she says. “Whereas, with crunches and roll-ups, it’s just creating a six-pack on top of this poochy stomach.”
“It’s really been transformative for a lot of our clients. And it ends up being more biomechanically sound in terms of supporting posture and helping with back pain.” (Try these two exercises from Bloom to target your deep core muscles.)