How Keri Russell Got in to Shape for The Americans

2-13-2014 2-19-15 PM

Keri Russell is 37 years old and has two kids. Still, she maintains that lean body that is not only attractive, but very functional as well. If you’ve seen the first season of The Americans and a few of the second, you know that in The Americans, Russell is a total badass! The fight scenes and stealth mission requires a body that is strong and flexible, plus looking fit and sexy makes the honey trap scenes even more alluring and enticing.

So what’s Keri’s secret?

Aside from walking, biking, taking care of two kids, and using the stairs always, Keri can still squeeze another workout in the form of Krav Maga courtesy of Avital Zeisler. Zeisler is a self-defense and hand to hand combat expert who consults for private security companies. She is also the founder of the Soteria Method, a self-defense method that is specialized for women. The Krav Maga expert helped train Russell to become a super tough woman on The Americans.

Zeisler shared some words about her training with Russell, on how she helped the former Felicity star look better and more authentic on the show.

On Zeisler’s goal for Keri Russell:

Zeisler: “ She plays a KGB agent on the show, so I really worked on preparing Keri both physically and mentally to look authentic on camera. It was really intense because I wanted to make sure her muscle memory was being developed properly so that her movements would be consistent during every camera take.”

The specifics of Russell are training:

Zeisler:  “I took her through the fundamentals and basics of self-defense. I also wanted her to understand the mechanics behind her movements. It’s really important for women to know how to strike properly, so I incorporate the technical aspect of self-defense with performance-based conditioning. You can do a kickboxing workout, but if you’re consistently doing it wrong, your muscle memory will forever affect the way you strike in a situation where you might have to defend yourself. Focus on the concepts and aim for consistency, and you will see yourself transform into a weapon rather than thinking about how many reps you have left.”

The strikes that Zeisler taught Keri:

Zeisler: “Starting with the upper-body strikes, I focused on straight strikes with variations such as the palm strike. I then transitioned into various elbows, upper gouges, hook punches, and hammer fist strikes, then lower-body combatives including push kicks, roundhouse kicks, and side kicks. Keri is amazing to work with, trained so intensively, and picked it up quickly. It’s beyond rewarding to see someone transform physically and emotionally. When I learned how to do that for myself, it transformed me.”

Russell says that the workouts were indeed effective and brutal. “I did get a bloody lip, which I am sort of proud about, in the training. You should see the other guy though,” she has joked. “Working out this way makes you feel fierce. I tend to be internal—getting on the subway and keeping my eyes down. But I would leave those workouts looking people in the eye like, ‘sup?'”

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