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David Higgins: Barbie and Ken's Fitness Trainer

A steely sixpack and perfect Barbie legs: David Higgins brought Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling into top form for the hit movie Barbie. His method also works outside Hollywood.

November 16, 2023

Coach of the movie stars


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The bodies of the main characters in the Barbie movie resemble the sculpted plastic versions from Mattel: Margot Robbie's and Ryan Gosling's defined arms, buttocks and stomachs probably made some viewers forget about their popcorn. Behind such perfection are many hours of hard work - and the strict instructions of Londoner-by-choice David Higgins. The fitness expert trained the entire cast of the Barbie blockbuster, and superstars such as actors Scarlett Johansson and Samuel L. Jackson and former supermodel Claudia Schiffer have long followed the Australian-born fitness expert's workout techniques. The good news is that David Higgins also offers his methods to ordinary mortals. In his book The Hollywood Body Plan, you can read how a body can be completely transformed in just a few weeks with just 21 minutes of training every day.

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Mr. Higgins, how did you manage to get dozens of Barbies and Kens fit for Barbieland in time for the start of filming?
We started training together on set three months before the start, for an hour a day. For the women, the workout consisted of 70 percent Pilates and 30 percent weight training, which resulted in defined, elegant bodies. For the men, it was exactly the opposite: for definition and muscle building, 70 percent weightlifting and 30 percent Pilates were on the agenda.

Who trains harder, Ryan Gosling or Margot Robbie?
I have to admit: Both of them were extremely enthusiastic and fun. Once we did a plank challenge for fun, i.e. forearm supports. Margot Robbie was way ahead here - she held her plank for over a minute longer than Gosling.

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Do you also give nutrition tips to the stars who train with you?
I'm not a fan of diets that ban carbohydrates or other foods; I rely on short-term fasting. You can eat whatever you want, you just have to stick to a set time frame and keep the fridge closed for the rest of the day.

Are actors more motivated customers?
Yes, movie stars are very dedicated by nature. Firstly, it's their job to give their body a certain look, and secondly, let's be honest: Who doesn't want to look good when they have to shoot a beach scene half-naked in a swimsuit or fly through the air as Superman in a tight one-piece suit?

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How did you actually become Hollywood's fitness coach?
That was a coincidence. Ten years ago, I was training former top model Claudia Schiffer and got a call from her husband, film producer Matthew Vaughn. He wanted to get the cast of his spy film Kingsman: The Secret Service in shape and asked for my help. That's when I met Samuel L. Jackson. I've been working with him ever since, and he got me involved in films like The Avengers and Tarzan, where I met Margot Robbie. That's how I ended up working on Barbie.

Where does a normal mortal get the necessary motivation for daily fitness training?
There are two main reasons. The first one is pain: If something hurts us so much that we can't go on, then we change something. The second motivation - which I would recommend to everyone - is prevention. If I want to be an active grandfather later on, I need to start doing something for my body regularly early on.

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Speaking of starting: What's the best way to start?
The start is often the biggest hurdle. That's why I have a new Youtube channel now, where I help you through the difficult starting phase with special workouts. I've also developed a method that brings about change within 21 days: It's called The Hollywood Body Plan and is available as a book. It contains workouts that are only 21 minutes long - if you do them for 21 days, you will see results. And these in turn are an incentive for further success. In this way, anyone can build up their own fitness routine in small steps.

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