You don’t need a movie star’s budget to get in shape


How’s this for a celebrity turnaround: A day after lamenting on Instagram that he’s in “the worst shape of my life”, Will Smith announced plans to get into the best shape of his life.

My initial reaction was, I’ll admit, a little cynical: Easy to get in shape when you’re a millionaire movie star.

Fellow movie star Kumail Nanjiani was more realistic when, back in December 2019, he revealed the ripped body he’s carved for his upcoming role in Marvel’s Eternals — a transformation that stunned fans of the lovably nerdy comedian. “I would not have been able to do this if I didn’t have a full year with the best trainers and nutritionists paid for by the biggest studio in the world,” he posted on Instagram, adding it “would have been impossible without these resources and time.”

Smith, 52, has no doubt recruited better-than-the-best trainers and nutritionists, which I hope he’ll be upfront about when he documents his transformation on YouTube. But, cynicism aside, his new goal is admirable because it’ll encourage others to get healthier — Marlon Wayans and Dr Dre are among those already following Smith’s lead.

How to get in shape if you’re not a movie star

So: you’ve decided to join what Smith has memorably dubbed the “Big Willie challenge”. Where to start? If you too are feeling in the worst shape of your life, consider checking in with your doctor before you make big changes, especially if you’re 45-plus.

You don’t have to start by vowing to finish a marathon. Instead, add more physical activity into your everyday life — can you take the stairs instead of the lift? Park at the far end of the carpark? Notch up 10,000 steps a day?

If you’re ready for exercise, recruit your partner, friends, and/or workmates and find an activity you all enjoy. Enjoyment is key, because if you hate weight-lifting, you won’t stick to it. I highly recommend finding a form of group fitness that suits your level (anything from a free community walking group to high-intensity workouts). Like-minded people will keep you accountable.

When you’re in a solid habit, reward yourself with an Apple Watch or other fitness gizmo — I really do find mine motivates me to stay active, as well as opening new paths to fitness.