The Christy Turlington Workout


Tourists in New York hoping for a celebrity sighting can skip Serendipity, Dash, and the NBC tour. To catch a star in his/her natural habitat, go to a gym. Want tickets to Jake Gyllenhaal’s gun show? Try Aerobox on a Saturday morning. Jonseing to see Karlie Kloss, Hugh Jackman, and Will Ferrell sweating on the treadmill? Equinox on Greenwich Ave. But there’s fun for the whole family late Friday mornings at NoLIta’s no-nonsense SoHo Strength Lab, where and when I found myself raising a wheatgrass shot to the latest Juice Press opening. Tossing one back, I side-eyed hometown hero and Yankee first baseman Mark Teixeira pumping iron, who was happier than expected to be pounced on by a member of the press mid-workout. In my shock and excitement, I never actually pressed “record” during our conversation. What I can tell you from memory is that he loves the smell of Brut aftershave, and there was mention of hot tubs.

But the sighting that rendered me entirely speechless and immobile was none other than Christy Turlington. I tried my best “be cool” tactic: completely ignoring her. And, with my back to her, I got the sense that she wanted to trade Vitamix recipes and "Men—can't live with 'em, can't live without 'em" woes, but I was working and she was working out—pushing a sled, pulling a band, and beating ropes to be exact. Making use of the gym's strategically placed mirrors, I took mental notes on what exactly the model does to maintain the industry's least photo-retouched body (that's actually a fact). When she's not running marathons or namaste-ing herself into a human pretzel, she's sweating at SSL with trainer slash model, Andrew Speer. And I discretely booked an appointment with that national treasure for as soon as humanly possible.

Because Andy is a professional and, above all, a gentleman, he would not confirm that what I'm about to tell you is Christy's workout. (I, too, think that privacy has it's place.) So let's just say that this is exactly how Andy would train you if you were 5' 10" and had a Calvin Klein billboard to prep for.

The Warm Up: Foam Rolling, Spider Complex, and Down Dog/Up Dog.
Foam Rolling: Loosen up your soft tissue and open up your chest by rolling up and down with a foam roller on your back, quads, glutes, and IT bands [1-2]. Do five to ten sweeps up and down for each body part, depending on how tight you are.
Spider Complex: To stretch your hips, hamstrings, and upper back, start in a pushup position, bring the left foot up to meet to your left hand, and open in a lunge to the right, reaching your right arm up to the ceiling. This rotation helps to loosen your chest and shoulders. Switch legs, opening to the left side. Repeat five times on each leg.
Down Dog/Up Dog: Start in Downward Dog position with your hips up, pushing down to the floor through your hands and feet. Try to keep both your legs and torso as straight as you can. From here, push your hips down, and open your chest into an Upward Dog pose. Repeat five times.

First Circuit: Turkish Get Up and Standing Band Row. Repeat the circuit three times.
Turkish Get Up: For this stability exercise you’ll need a five-pound dumbbell. Lay supine on the floor, extending your left leg and arm at 45-degree angles from your body. Bend your right knee, placing your right foot flat on the floor twelve to eighteen inches in front of your body. With the dumbbell in your right hand, extend your right arm straight in the air—it will remain here for the entire exercise. Then, push off of your right heel (not toes), rolling up onto your left elbow and driving your chest off of the floor. Next, pushing your left hand into the ground, extend your left arm straight. Drive your hips up into a bridge, using your left arm as a kick stand. This is the top of the motion (it should look like this). Come back down to your left elbow, then flat on the ground, in the reverse sequence you used to get up. Do this eight times on each side. You will feel it in your obliques, which will strengthen and eventually improve your standing and walking posture.
Standing Band Row: To warm up the pulling muscles and the backs of the arms, loop a light band around anything sturdy you can find overhead. The band should not have too much resistance. Standing with one foot in front of the other, with your weight on your back foot, start with your arms down at your sides, shoulder blades pressed together [3]. Bring your arms to a 90-degree angle, and repeat 15 times.

Second Circuit: Split Squat, Shoulder Press, and TRX Rows. Repeat the circuit three times.
Split Squat: This is a modified version of a squat that is safer for people with longer spines, but just as effective as a full squat. Beginners should start with a mat, pad, or towel on the ground. Start with your right foot in front of you with your right knee directly above your right ankle, and your left foot behind you with your left knee directly under your hips, legs bent at 90-degree angles. Push straight up out of the hole until your legs are extended. Come back down and lightly touch your knee to the floor for each rep, doing ten reps on each side. Once you can get through three rounds of ten reps on your own bodyweight, add five- to eight-pound dumbbells in each hand with your arms at your sides.
Shoulder Press: Start in the same position as you did for the Split Squat, squeezing your abs and the glute on the side of your down knee. Using one ten- to fifteen-pound dumbbell, press the dumbbell up from your shoulder [4] until your arm is completely vertical. Do eight reps on each side. According to Andy, this is great for people with longer bodies, because they tend to not have inherent upper-body strength. It will add less bulk than a classic chest press, and it challenges the core by having a dumbbell on only one side.
TRX Rows: If you don’t have a machine with pulls, you can use a bar with any kind of rope strong enough to hold your body weight. Holding onto the rope, lean your body back at a 45-degree angle, keeping your entire body tight like a plank (abs and glutes included), with your arms extended in front of you. Pull your body up until your thumbs are in your armpits [5]. Be mindful not to shrug your shoulders, but instead pull your shoulder blades together. Extend your arms again. Do twelve reps. This is a back exercise for your pulling muscles. It will improve your posture by supporting your whole body in the air.

Third Circuit: Bar Push Ups and Band Pull Apart. Repeat the circuit three times.
Bar Push Ups: Place your hands slightly wider than shoulder-width apart on a bar, or a bench at the gym, tighten your abs, and lower yourself down to the bar/bench, keeping your elbows close to your sides [6]. Push up. Do this for eight reps.
Band Pull Apart: Standing with your feet hips-distance apart, hold the same light band between your hands, directly in front of you, arms shoulder-width apart. Pull your arms apart until you are in an iron cross position. Be careful to not shrug your shoulders. Repeat twelve times.

Fourth Circuit: Ropes, Sled Pushing, and Plank. Repeat circuit four to five times.
Ropes: To ramp up the fat-burning aspect of this workout, Andy, set up battle ropes [7]. This is one large rope about 2-inches wide, anchored to a bench in the gym. Set your feet wider than shoulder-width apart, slightly bent over with your hips behind you, beat the ropes as if you were beating a drum as fast as you can for twenty seconds. ***If you don’t have ropes, you can actually use a bath towel. Hold opposite corners and wave the towel up and down as fast as you can for twenty seconds. Take ten seconds of rest, then
Plank: Holding a plank position with your legs spread a little farther than hips-width distance apart, raise one arm vertically in the air [8], then bring back down to the ground, and repeat with the other arm. Do that for twenty seconds. Rest for ten seconds, then
Sled Pushing: This is Andy’s favorite full-body conditioning tool, because it combines leg work, abs, and cardio in “one big push.” Keeping your abs straight and your hips in line, sprint about 100 feet as fast as you can with 120-160 pounds on the sled [7]. ***If you don’t have a sled, you can do a treadmill push. With the treadmill off, place your hands on the front handles, lean forward, and push the track with your legs as fast as you can for ten seconds. Rest for thirty to sixty seconds, and repeat the circuit.

Suffice it to say, Ms. Turlington earns her body. This is a serious athlete's workout if I've ever experienced one. There is no dance component, there are no games, and Andy never reminds me to smile (though I do [1, 7], if only because I can't believe I'm pushing a sled down AstroTurf like I'm Tim Riggins in Friday Night Lights). In Andy's words, "You're not just going to sit on a stationary bike; we don't do stuck-in-one place New York City workouts. We want to get people running, jumping, climbing, and throwing things, seeing the human body do what it was designed to do." He did tell me that if you want to look as good as Christy, you should do this workout twice a week as a strength-training component to a five-day-a-week workout regimen involving running, yoga, or other classes. Then, for the other two days of the week, try low-intensity recovery training, which I've loosely interpreted as mouse clicking, channel changing, and orange-juice-carton shaking. But the most important aspect to getting and keeping a body like that is eating well. "If you don't nourish properly, you're not going to see a difference." *Puts down bacon, egg, and cheese*

—Mackenzie Wagoner

Photos by Mathea Millman.

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  • corina

    Great article, very useful info. Love CTB - would love to see a top shelf with her too... (Interested in skincare)

  • Sarita

    I really like Christy Turlington! She seems very down to earth. A Top Shelf with her or simply an interview with her would be awesome.

  • keely

    would LOOOOOOOOOVE a CT top shelf! she is the most super super.

  • Mary

    would be so much easier to follow with some little gifs or a video ... instructions are like trying to describe a game of twister!

    • pkb

      For real.

  • CherHorowitz

    Christy!!! I always knew she was truly flawless.


    i need to try a new workout anyway!! all i do is run and it gets boring!


  • Alex Beggs

    mackenzie you look smokin' !! you don't need that christy turly workout. let's make kahlua milkshakes with that vitamix instead. xo

    • ITGMackenzie

      oh gurrrrl
      thank you and yes, please.

  • tennesseethomasss

    I see Alexa Chung tweeted you today...for the love of god, get her Top Shelf! Get her Top Shelf!

  • Pblah

    I read the article about Pascal Dangin and couldn't find the Turlington this really true?!

  • Clever Girl Reviews

    That's a great way to add cross fit components to a more yoga based program. I think 2 days a week if you're already fit is going to keep you fit and add more muscle definition.

  • Tajna

    It would've been even more helpful if there was a video of the whole workout instead of long descriptions which are virtually impossible to replicate without injuring yourself!