In X-Men: Apocalypse, out May 27, Olivia Munn joins the Marvel world as Psylocke, a character who uses telekinesis to strike with superhuman strength. To get in fighting shape-and fit in a risqué latex body suit she’s admitted needing lube to get into-the actress turned to husband-wife duo Karine Lemieux and Ken Tran of martial arts-focused DAX Gym in Montreal. Ahead, five things Munn did over five months to lose 12 pounds and transform her body:
1. She made training a (second) full-time job
"If she wasn’t shooting, she was at the gym. No question," Lemieux says, adding that Munn trained for six or seven hours daily. On top of filming. Lemieux trained Munn-who happens to have a black belt in tae kwon do, which she earned as a teen-using mainly body-weight exercises: punching, kicking, and other techniques from boxing and tae kwon do. "I tried to make it fun every day-she doesn’t like a typical workout," the trainer says. Good thing he made it fun, because as Lemieux says, "I think she was at the gym more often than in her apartment."
2. She took sword fighting seriously
Two hours of training alone were spent perfecting sword work with Tran, who says Munn did 95 percent of her own stunts in the movie. She toned her arms with drills in striking, chopping, stabbing, blocking, and twirling. Tran was impressed in her investment in learning not only necessary choreography, but the whole art of sword fighting. "That’s the type of person she is. She’s not going to do it superficially," Tran says of Munn. "She picks up really fast and she works really hard, so we went up levels very fast." Observe:
Even Ryan Reynolds, aka Deadpool, couldn’t compete.
3. She skipped basic butt exercises
You’d never see Munn doing "boring" exercises like squats in the gym. Lemieux emphasized more creative methods. They favored working on kicking techniques. One move they did almost daily to work the the butt, quads, and hips: stand facing outward from a wall, point your toe to the wall and do 10 kicks in the air with one leg, hold it midair for 10 seconds, do 10 kicks with the same leg, repeat two or three times. "[Olivia] always goes for the tough workouts-she knows it’s going to be hard, but she likes it that way," Lemieux says. "We made it different every day."
4. She ate 80% raw
As for diet, Lemieux says she had Munn do an 80 percent raw diet, 20 percent anything else. Additionally, before she would head to training in the morning, Munn would eat only fruit, either on its own or in smoothie form. "She tried to eat as many fruits and veggies as possible. She cut down on complex carbs, and I told her to eat more quinoa, roasted sweet potatoes, and wild rice instead of white rice," Lemieux says. Munn also had to cut down on bread and limited her meat intake, focusing more on getting protein in seeds and nuts. "She just wanted to put everything on her side. She was already disciplined for that as well," the trainer says.
The 20 percent at least afforded Munn the freedom to eat things like Cheetos:
4. She got way more creative than crunches
In addition to all the core work she would do while running through boxing combinations, Munn trained her core by doing atypical movements. Lemieux would have her get in a plank position with her feet on a ball, and then she’d have to use her abs to bring them in (and she would do it sideways too). Another abs move Munn did was wrap her feet around a punching bag while in plank position and holding it. If ever there were sit-ups, she would be wearing boxing gloves and punching as she came up.
5. She paid close attention to stretching
An often neglected part of training, stretching was paramount for Munn in Lemieux’s training program. "She was pretty flexible already, but we really focused on a lot of deep stretching to get those high kicks," the trainer says, adding that they did plenty of yoga-inspired stretches. One move they did was to have her back against the floor, her legs up on the wall and splitting the legs apart for one minute, continually pushing down further.
Ultimately, doing these five things for five months led to this:
100 percent payoff.