Halle Berry's trainer now equips Mumbai traffickers to become fitness experts
“I had ghee with my lunch today,” says Ramona Braganza. According to the Hollywood fitness trainer who has worked with stars like Halle Berry and Scarlett Johansson, ghee is all the rage for its health benefits in the West at the moment. And while on her first trip to Chennai, as part of a 15-city tour to promote her app MyHomeFitness — she’s eager to digest as much traditional nutrition and wisdom as possible. “Tulsi is next,” the 55-year-old informs us, after a day spent temple hopping through the monsoon rains and being introduced to her thali, thanks to her Ola driver.
Fresh off the sets of 50 Shades of Grey (sequels 2 and 3) where she spent a heavy-duty five months doing hot yoga with Dakota Johnson, Ramona is here to equip Indian trainers to take on the mantle of her ‘at home fitness gym service’ in collaboration with The Sanghvi Group. “It’s a 30 -minute workout that starts off with invigorating breathing techniques, followed by dynamic stretches, cardio, circuit training and ends with meditation. This is apart from a nutrition plan customised to suit your body type,” she adds.
What really has us excited to sign up, however, has nothing to do with the detailed exercise break up she chalks out. While visiting India for a while now, Ramona has found an empowering passion project. “I am turning sex traffickers into trainers,” she tells us simply. Since her parents of Goan descent lived in Mumbai before they moved to Canada — it seems the journey has come full circle when we hear that the 10 ladies who are getting certified in aerobics and later strength training are from the red light areas of Mumbai. Eventually, the plan is to have the girls join their training recruits as a part of the MyHomeFitness programme.
“But I knew that I wanted to give back in some way as early as nine years old,” the celebrity trainer recalls. Our conversation takes a U-turn at this point as we go back to how fitness became such an important part of her world early on. “I was a gymnast and later an NFL cheerleader for 10 years,” she tells us. Then a producer at a Los Angeles gym roped her in to train a 17-year-old Jessica Alba, who became her very first client. “This was just before Dark Angel,” Ramona refers to the actress’ breakout role on television. After that, she was on roll. From training Halle Berry for X-Men to Jessica Biel for Blade: Trinity. “We were doing a hike in Stanley Park, Vancouver and when it got dark, I realised we had lost Jessica!” she recalls. Fortunately, Ryan Reynolds came to the rescue.
When she isn’t training celebrities on set in her massive 52-foot fitness truck, another speciality of Ramona’s is helping new moms including Ashlee Simpson and Halle Berry lose that postpartum weight. “That’s what my next book is about,” she shares. This is following her last book that was in fact designed around the Indian body type, titled Feel Fit Look Fantastic in 3-2-1. The latter references her 3-2-1 fitness philosophy that she is popular for. “I break down a workout into 3 cardio – 2 circuits – 1 core, and food diet intake into 3 meals – 2 snacks – minimum of 1 litre of water a day,” she says, adding, “Also, of course, it means ready, set, go, so it works on multiple levels.”
One morning ritual whether in Hollywood or Chennai. I start my stretches even before I get out of bed. In the morning, it’s usually a reclining butterfly stretch or spinal twist.
A wellness inspiration that you are taking away from India.
What’s the secret to looking fabulous at 55?
I think my mother who continues to inspire me. She’s a zumba instructor at the age of 82!
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