Sharing knowledge and advice based on ‘real world’ results was the whole reason I started writing this blog. So you can imagine how pleased I was when celebrity personal trainer David Kingsbury agreed to answer some of my burning questions on how he trains and how he delivers amazing results for his clients…and they are some seriously impressive results! Based out of Pinewood Studios near London, David has a reputation as the go-to man for getting hollywood stars in shape: X-Men, The Wolverine, Snow White & The Huntsman and Assassin’s Creed are just some of the films he’s worked on with actors like Hugh Jackman, Jennifer Lawrence and Michael Fassbender.
So David, tell us about how and why you first got into personal training, and how that led onto training movie stars like Hugh Jackman?
It’s been a long and eventful run for me since getting into personal training when I finished college at 17.
I always have been into my sports, from a premiership football academy to national medals as a cyclist when I was young, to more recent years of powerlifting and Muay Thai.
It was my love for sport that got me hooked on training, I was fascinated by the process of boosting performance and challenging the body to improve.
After qualifying as a trainer it took me quite some time to get my first job in a gym, I initially worked as a gym instructor in a few gyms before travelling to Thailand to train and live at a Muay Thai camp where I finally gave personal training a chance and really enjoyed helping others boost their strength and fitness with the information I had learned.
Fast forward a couple of years during which time I had been working for a private personal training company, I decided to give it a go on my own.
I set up my first tiny PT studio at Pinewood Film Studios where I built a busy little business. After working here for several years I began to get recommended to productions due to the results I was delivering to clients. After lots of no’s for various big films I eventually got my first full time film and have been at it ever since.
Once I was in the loop and delivering results I was getting recommended to a lot of films coming in. One of these was Les Miserables with Hugh Jackman. He came to see me at the gym, we got chatting and it clicked, and I’ve done 7 films with him now.
What does a typical day look like for David Kingsbury?
This can vary hugely! Depending if I’m on a film or not, how many actors I’m working with and which country that film is based. In the last 6 months I have worked in 4 countries with a number of actors and actresses.
On a typical day on a film I would probably have a couple of actors to look after, we would either be training before or after filming/rehearsals. If we train before work I would be up early and at the gym, hit the session and make sure their food for the day is done. Then I would spend some time at set before heading home. If it was an evening session I would tend to get to the set or the gym a few hours before wrap in case they wrap early. Then hang until it’s time to train.
I typically do 1-3 films a year. If its 3 I am flat-out, if it’s 1 or 2 I may have 4-6 months to do other things in that year. During this time I would be working from my Gym at Pinewood.
Either way I tend to have free time during the day and during this time I work with my team on my online business. Providing the best value custom training plans available to my online clients.
What’s the hardest part of training actors on a film project, and does that differ at all to how you train other clients?
The working hours are the hardest thing to deal with. When they are shooting the hours are crazy. Often we have to train super early at 4:30/5am or later at night 8/9pm to fit around shooting. When I worked with Jennifer Lawrence on X-Men there were days she was at set at 4:30am to get into the blue suit/makeup and we would train at 10pm at night then repeat the next day!
Would you say you have a particular training approach? Do you have a preference for certain exercises or techniques?
This is obviously goal dependent, but in general I would say simple exercises with well thought out long-term plans. I have experience in a number of areas so depending on the client and the goals we may work with weight training, intervals, boxing, muay thai.
I do like the classic lifts, squats, deadlifts, chins, bench, barbell shoulder press etc. I also like to work in a variety of rep ranges no matter the goal, so incorporating strength work, hypertrophy rep ranges and high rep/endurance rep ranges.
How important is nutrition and eating the right foods when you’re trying to improve your physique?
It is crucial!
What would be your top nutrition advice?
Learn about food. It still surprises me that people are not aware of what food is made up of in terms of macros. I would get a handle on this first and also learn what this means for you in the way of calories.
What’s the most common mistake you’ve come across when it comes to training clients?
Too many goals, not enough focus.
It seems like you have a pretty hectic lifestyle. How do you manage to stay motivated and manage to maintain your own fitness?
I love what I do. I can’t wait to get into it every morning and don’t even want to stop at the end of the day (it’s 10pm now and I won’t be stopping any time soon).
I really enjoy every part of my job which is getting broader and broader. It inspires me to help my online clients and deliver amazing results with my film clients. I really enjoy creating the content for my website and the fitness magazines and TV shows.
I haven’t been training a huge amount lately by my standards – 4 hours a week roughly. But I am back up to 5-6 hours now.
Is there anything in particular you do to unwind and relax?
Family time is the best thing for me to unwind and relax. We love to be out and about, walking and cycling. I also love a good restaurant and amazing coffee!
Finally, what advice would you give to someone who wants to transform their physique?
Dedication, consistency, hard work and patience.