Tips From Stuntman Dave Lea

He's the martial arts expert and stuntman who trained Ben Affleck for Daredevil, was the stuntman in Batman and has put some of the world's most famous models and actresses through rigorous exercise regimens. Now, the man behind your favorite action movies tells you how to get in shape.

Q: Was the Batman offer your first foray into the movies?

Q: Was the Batman offer your first foray into the movies?


A: It was my first stunt movie ever. Up until then I had been a straight actor in London. I don't know if you have ever heard of a program called East Enders? Well, I was an actor on East Enders for quite awhile and just did straight acting. But I kept getting this itch to kick a chair over or to do something. Push a door open; anything physical. But it was a drama, so eventually I got the opportunity to work on Batman as a biker.

One thing led to another and I kinda let a little situation happen: Every night on the set when everybody would be in their tent chatting and telling their life stories to each other, I was out on the set training and working out. At that time I didn't know it, but the guy who was doubling for Batman was not a fighter and they needed a guy. And someone told them I was a fighter.

So they called me down the next day and the director said to me, "Why didn't you tell me you could do that?" and I said, "You didn't ask me." So he said, "Show me some of your moves." And they put these two stunt guys in front of me and I just ripped into them. I had no idea what a stunt punch or a stunt kick was. So they asked me to put the costume on and show them moves and that was it, they signed me up.

Q: Are you ever asked to train women and who have you trained?

A: Jennifer Love Hewitt, Sandra Bullock, Ashley Judd and Michelle Pfeiffer among others.

Q: Do you find it is more difficult to work with women?

A: I find it a lot easier. First of all, I've studied the female anatomy from all angles — and I mean that in a professional sense. When I was in London training, I used to go to ballet classes. Ballet dancers have an amazing ability to stretch and kick and have agility. So I took the time to go to classes and study and they used to be all dominated by women. Guys just weren't into that — thought they were too macho. I would get ladies in London asking me to train them (at the time I was training all the top models in my spare time).

But I got to understand the female anatomy as far as understanding a woman's emotional needs, their stress and the weak points in their bodies.

Q: What is the biggest exercise myth that women adhere to that they shouldn't?

A: The meal supplements. The weight loss courses. They are absolute B.S. Put it this way, if a woman is in her late teens and she's 110 pounds, 5'6" or so. And a couple of years later she's had a kid, maybe she's had two, and she's put on 20 or 30 pounds. So OK now it's time for Slim Fast and all the signing up. And I don't mean to step on people's businesses out there; I'm just being real. They will go on these organized diets and somehow consider that two-thirds of their training and only add one-third of physical training. But I say, what you put on your body and how long it took to get it that way, you have to spend an equal amount of time to get rid of it.

So women to me today are consciously aware of it but they find too many ways to cover up and justify their [weight] problems concerning training.

The diets and all that, it's not going to help unless they get physically involved in something and be consistent in the training. For example, the glass of wine at dinner: loaded with calories. If you look at teenagers in America today. Horrible. If you look at women's fashions today. Horrible. Why? Because they wear the low-riders and the little tops and they have the big tire sticking out in the middle, but nobody wants to tell them.

The most popular color in the world right now for women is black. But it tells them black covers everything up. Sweatshirts around the waist. Girls are not allowed in my dance class with sweatshirts around their waist, because they are basically covering up their [behinds]. I ask them, "Why do you have that around your waist?" When they finally confess that they don't want anyone to see their [big behind] I say, "Now that you have told the whole world, let's set this aside and deal with the problem." You have to reveal yourself to the problem in order to fix it.

Q: Do you recommend any nutritional plan for people you work with?

A: No. 1, it's common sense. What you put in your body you're going to get out. If you put cheap gas in your car, it's not gonna live too long, and if you don't oil it, it's not going to function. The human body needs to be looked after. Myself, I eat whatever I want, when I want and how I want. My maintenance is always there and I have a very high metabolism because I am always active. But for women, it depends on the age, the size of the body, the fat content. Genetics. A lot of these factor into it.

When the magazines offer women a diet plan, let's say 500 women look at that diet. No woman is the same. No one has the same metabolism or the same body fat. So I cannot recommend one diet for everybody.

Q: If a woman is just starting to exercise, what would you recommend?

A: I would recommend a kick-boxing class. The concept is, first they're going to get the heart rate up. Because if they have not worked out before, starting off with kickboxing allows them to use every muscle in their body. You're gonna be elongating your muscles underneath and stretching the fat, the tissues. They are gonna lose weight, but as they lose the weight they're gonna be toning up as well because on impact of punching and kicking, the muscles in the thighs and arms and also the stomach will start getting twisted.

When they start to sweat and lose the weight, the class will enhance their mind to discipline themselves because they are also learning to kick some butt! Ashley Judd was a great example of this. She got into it.

Q: What is the bottom line when it comes to getting the results you want?

A: The mind is really the objective here. If it's in the mind, the mind will control the body. So with women, when I see them today and when I go out to the dance clubs, the makeup and hair is beautiful, but they have the outfits that they squeezed into. The black pants and it's all tight and pushed in. You wanna feel sexy, I understand, but you keep covering it up and you gotta do something about it. So if you're gonna set yourself up to do something, don't set yourself up to fail 'cause it just knocks you back 10 feet.

To realize a dream you must have a dream to realize. If you are walking down the street and you see another woman who is a real sexy lady, don't be envious, be motivated by it.


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