“I WORKED OUT WITH RIHANNA’S TRAINER!”
Writer Estelle got a chance to hang out with Jamie Granger, Riri’s PT at a fitness retreat in Thailand, and survived her bold and badass workouts.
She’s largely responsible for pop star Rihanna’s enviable body so that it’s toned and curvy in the right places. Meet Jamie Granger, her PT of six years and counting.
I recently had the chance to train with her during a fitness retreat at the pristine Paradise Koh Yao Resort in Thailand. Organised by Puma in collaboration with Guavapass, the 3D/2N boot camp saw close to 20 trainers, including Jamie, as well as Puma ambassadors from Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia band together for a weekend of sweat sessions.
The programme was packed with instructor-led fitness classes, including barre, zumba, U-Jam fitness (dance fitness) and pilates, as well as outdoor activities, like hiking and kayaking around the serene island. Jamie helmed two workouts: a high-intensity interval training that combined calisthenics and plyometrics, and a partner circuit.
To sum up, Jamie’s workouts were pretty much like Rihanna: bold and badass.
All the classes were done on the beach’s soft sand, which demanded more balance, stability and muscle activation compared to exercising on a solid surface. To kick it up a notch, it rained on and off throughout.
A good mix of strength, power, balance and stability, those moves – such as tap squats and mountain climbers – drove up my heart rate and woke up my lethargic limbs in record time. At the end of her workouts, which took 30 to 45 minutes each, I felt so alive, and smiled smugly in my sandy, sweatand rain-soaked clothes. It was like I’d just survived an obstacle course race.
This ability to excite normally sluggish people like me counted for something.
Jamie has embraced the great outdoors since she was six – the age when I was happy to stay home and play with Barbie dolls all day. She started out with soccer, basketball,
tennis and softball. And later on, kayaking, rock climbing, mountaineering, cycling, swimming, hiking… essentially any outdoor sports she could get her hands on.
“Thanks to my parents, I grew up with sports, so I’ve always been quite fit,” she said. “I love being active and doing as much as I possibly can. When I’m not outdoors, I’ll lift heavy weights in the gym to enhance my performance.”
Jamie’s inclination for sports led her to study human performance, leisure and sport at New Mexico Highlands University in Las Vegas.
She went on to launch a personal training business in Los Angeles, which has been running for 11 years. Since then, Jamie has trained professional athletes and several other celebrities besides Rihanna. She declined to name them, but she did let on: “I’m serious about what I do, and there are very few people I will stick with because I [have to] truly like them as a person.” Obviously, @ badgalriri (Rihanna’s Instagram handle) is on Jamie’s good side.
“I value those who are consistent and respectful. When you show up to train with me, expect to work. If you’re resistant and complaining all the time, don’t come,” she said.
Her rapport with Rihanna is evident: The pair appear in each other’s Instagram feed every now and then, looking as chummy as BFFs.
When asked how often she meets Rihanna, Jamie said it all depends on Rihanna’s schedule. “When I’m travelling with her, I see her all the time – sometimes for months. Right now, she’s on a hiatus.”
The most pressing question: How does Rihanna maintain her svelte figure, whether she’s on a hiatus or not?
“Diet. It’s all about food, food, food. I don’t believe in fat-burning supplements and trippy tactics like that,” replied Jamie, who’s also a certified nutrition coach. Of course, if you want abs or biceps to show, working out is compulsory.
Before we parted, she shared her top tips for keeping a trim and fit body.
1 FOLLOW A SENSIBLE DIET THAT WORKS FOR YOU
“My diet is Mediterranean-ish, featuring healthy carbs, healthy fats and lean meats. I’ve tried a few other diets but a Mediterranean diet is what my body feels best on. I wouldn’t recommend this to everyone because every diet has its own benefits and may be suitable for different metabolisms and body types.”
2 UP YOUR PROTEIN INTAKE IF YOU EXERCISE OFTEN
Protein is essential for building and repairing muscles. And you need muscles to burn fat. So if you train every day like Jamie, consider adding more protein to your pre- and postworkout meals. “In the morning, I usually make a shake with mixed berries, spinach, raw oats, protein powder and coconut oil. After a workout, I’ll have a whey protein shake.”
3 TRY INTERMITTENT FASTING
“I strongly believe in intermittent fasting. That seems to be one thing that truly works for people. Every week or fortnightly, go for 24 hours without food. You can start with 16 hours or so at first. Fasting helps your body reset its system, and also forces it to start losing fat first.”
4 DO HIIT
High-intensity interval training (HIIT) shoots your heart rate up quickly, doesn’t take long, and keeps your calorie-burning engine going for hours afterwards. “Rihanna’s fitness routine has a lot of HIIT. In between, I’ll throw in some ab workouts and corrective exercises to fix her form. Each session lasts from 30 minutes to just over an hour.”
5 PRACTISE ACTIVE RECOVERY
Instead of slumping on the couch on rest days, try doing stretching and mobility exercises. “Rest for me is active recovery. Your body should never really stop moving. I do a lot of foam rolling and trigger point therapy almost every day to make sure my tissues and muscles are in good shape. When I fly, I’ll bring along my massage balls to release tension especially in my lower back. When you work hard, you have to stay on top of it.”
Writer Estelle (left) with Jamie.