How to live a long, healthy life? Trainer to Jennifer Aniston and Meghan Markle says low-impact strength training is ‘the future of fitness’

To live a long, healthy life, start doing strength workouts, says a celebrity trainer who has worked with A-listers including Meghan Markle, Jennifer Aniston and Sofia Vergara.

Resistance training, particularly through low-impact exercise, is key to healthy ageing, says Sebastien Lagree, the founder of US-based Lagree Fitness, a high-intensity, low-impact exercise method.

“Not enough people understand the benefits of resistance training. It’s not just for the aesthetics,” he said. “Now that I’m 50, I’ve started to spend a lot more time on how to make these workouts the best for longevity. It’s not a consideration, it’s a necessity.”

But working out is just the beginning. Lagree’s approach for clients, as well as his own personal routine, focuses on muscular strength, consistent habits and heart health, as well as simple nutrition tips to improve fitness for the long haul, both in and out of the gym.

Lagree loves food, and his approach has always been to focus on portion sizes, not cutting out foods entirely. Photo: Instagram.com/sebastien.lagree

Muscle building focus keeps body and metabolism strong

Resistance training to build muscle and strength is a key part of adding healthy years to your life, Lagree said – and there is plenty of research to back it up.

Lagree Fitness classes use unique equipment that incorporates springs for resistance instead of traditional weights, which he said can be easier on the joints than activities like HIIT – for high intensity interval training.
The workouts also focus on a “time under tension” strategy to help build muscular endurance, core strength, and balance, all of which can help make you more durable and resilient as you age.

“I’ve been preaching low-impact workouts as the future of fitness. With the low impact comes longevity; you can’t expect to do high impact forever and expect it to be good for your joints,” he said.

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Lagree loves to hit the gym himself for bodybuilding workouts, and a major perk of building muscle is that it can increase the amount of calories you burn, helping you to better use the food you eat for energy.

“When you body-build, nutrients in your body become a source of fuel for your body,” he said.

“It helps tremendously to put on some muscle,” he said.

Beyond regular workouts, adding more movement to your day – especially waking outdoors – is a great way to boost your health and fitness, Lagree says. Photo: Shutterstock

Take daily walks to stay fit outside the gym

Beyond regular workouts, adding more movement to your day is a great way to boost your health and fitness, especially if you’re a beginner, Lagree said.

He enjoys outdoor activities like hiking, but even walking each day can help improve your heart health, which plays an important role in longevity.

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A major bonus of walking is that you don’t need a gym membership or any equipment, so you’re more likely to actually do it, he said.

“If part of your fitness plan is to go to a gym 30 minutes away, that’s not a good plan because eventually that trip is going to get old,” Lagree said. “Motivation comes by doing, not just by wishing.”

A workout buddy will help to keep you moving

Lagree Fitness classes use equipment that incorporates springs instead of traditional weights for resistance, which Lagree said can be easier on the joints. Photo: Instagram.com/sebastien.lagree

“I very rarely work out by myself even though I’ve been doing it for more than 30 years,” he said.

Having a workout buddy is one of the best ways to stick to a workout plan, according to the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention. You will feel more motivated and work harder, be more adventurous, and more consistent.

A group of friends can make fitness feel like a fun social activity, instead of a chore, staves off “gymtimidation”, and provides support and accountability in keeping consistent with your workouts.

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Enjoy favourite foods – in small portions

Exercise is just one part of the longevity equation, and research suggests that your diet can help extend your lifespan, too.

“I’m always travelling, there are always huge hotel buffets, and I love to eat,” he said. “I’m French, I love pastries, so everywhere I go, I’ve got to try a chocolate croissant because it might be the best one. I just eat less.”

Celebrity trainer Lagree has trained Meghan Markle. Photo: Getty Images

Lagree said it’s important to be realistic about your goals and expectations, and to plan ahead to avoid setting yourself up for failure later on.

“People think ‘Whatever I gain, I’ll lose it by working out twice as hard.’ I do the same thing,” he said. “It’s the same mistake we make on the weekends. We have this way of talking ourselves into eating more, thinking we’ll burn it off tomorrow; we never will.”

Instead, focus on being consistent over time – healthy habits can take a few weeks to build at first, Lagree said, but add up over time to help you stay strong and healthy long term.

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