Jenna Dewan on Her Secret Fitness Weapon and Finding Her Power - Women's Health

Jenna Dewan on Her Secret Fitness Weapon and Finding Her Power

From her fitness regimen to relationships, Jenna shares the secrets of her evolution

by | Oct 4, 2021

It’s 4.30pm in LA and Jenna Dewan is “drenched in sweat”, but not for the reasons you’d assume. The dancer and actor-turned-producer, who first hit our screens 15 years ago in the movie Step Up, hasn’t just finished a hip-hop class. Her state isn’t the result of her new fitness fave, Pilates, either. Nope, Jenna is a sweaty mess from general “mum-ness”, she laughs as she tells me on Zoom. And it’s with this openness that she begins our chat. Here, she talks about her evolving relationship with fitness, how she learnt to deal with anxiety, and why her life has only gotten better as she’s gotten older.

What was your approach to fitness in your 20s and how did it evolve in your 30s, and now at 40?

JENNA: Ooh, good question. Well, I started dancing when I was five, so I didn’t know life without extreme physical discipline. It was hours of dance class after school, then I’d do cheerleading, then I’d go to dance, doing my homework on the way there and on the way home. In my 20s, I was a professional dancer, and getting into acting… then I had Evie [her daughter with ex-husband Channing Tatum] when I was 31. I wouldn’t say I was less active, but it was less dance classes, more exercise classes and hiking. I was wild about working out throughout the whole pregnancy. The trainer I was working with at the time, JJ Dancer, would just laugh at me in the back, doing all the twerking and popping with my big old pregnant belly. I loved it. Then of course you have your child, and it becomes so much harder because you’re sleep deprived and exhausted. I was 39 when I was pregnant with Callum [her son with fiancé Steve Kazee, born in March 2020]. I was very busy working so it was hard for me to work out as much. Now I’m sort of catching up and in my 40s, the focus is muscle training with Pilates, plus hiking with friends. I’ve turned my garage into a gym. I do a lot of workouts off the Mirror [an interactive smart gym with real-time feedback] and I have a Soul Cycle bike. I also do regular privates over Zoom with my Pilates instructor, Kim Carruthers. She’s a secret weapon and how I keep my muscles where they should be.

How did you handle that transition post-childbirth when you couldn’t be as active as you used to be?

JENNA: That was difficult for me, because physical activity and moving my body… I forget how important it is. Sometimes I’ll have gone a few days and I wonder, “Why do I feel a bit more anxious than normal?” [Then I realise] “Oh wait, you haven’t moved your body.” I had two cesareans and that period of time where you’re not really walking well is difficult; my focus was on just surviving and taking care of my beautiful babies. But when I start to feel anxious, my first check-in with myself is, “When have you moved your body recently?”

What other signs make you realise you’re not yourself?

JENNA: My telltale signs are over-worrying, so I start to worry and then the worry grows. And then I’m worrying about things I don’t need to be worrying about. And I can tell in my breath, I’m not breathing as deeply. Or my voice gets tight or I get overwhelmed. And I realise, “OK, you’re not taking enough time for yourself.” The things that help me are working out, moving, dancing, walking, getting fresh air or even taking 10 minutes to go in another room, to do anything, something just for yourself. I am also a huge fan of baths at night. That really helps me, locking everyone out of the bathroom for a bath all to myself with my oil and my salts and music to relax.

In your book, Gracefully You, you write that when you stopped searching outwardly, and looked within, you learnt who you truly are. Can you tell us how you did that?

JENNA: It was a perspective shift. Those feelings that come when you lose a job or your relationship ends? Instead of focusing on why these things are happening to me, I started thinking these things might teach me something, [be] part of my path and journey. It means that in times of stress and turmoil, I attempted to realise my part in it and hopefully I would learn from it so that I could either make a different decision or change the course of things. It put me back in my power and it gives you the ability to handle hard things, because hard things happen. I’ve gone through a lot of things, like jobs not working out and divorce, and instead of feeling victimised, I try to think, “OK, this is here for a reason. Let me go to therapy and work out what I’m learning from this.” It doesn’t mean I don’t allow myself to feel sad, because I do. But I’ve got to a point where I understand that patterns repeat themselves. I like to get introspective about that. Meditating and feeling that flow a little bit really helps me.


Photography: Eric Ray Davidson Fashion editor: Kristen Saladino Styling: Katie Collins Hair: Kristin Ess, kristinesshair.com


Read the full interview with Jenna Dewan in the November issue of Women’s Health Australia. Subscribe now so that you never miss an issue.

Jenna Dewan on the cover of Women's Health Australia November 2021

By Lizza Gebilagin

Lizza Gebilagin is the Editor-in-Chief of Women's Health Australia by day and boxer by night (and early morning). Prior to joining the team, she was deputy editor of body+soul, Cleo and Dolly magazines. She's also represented the NSW state boxing team at the National Championships and Women's World Qualifiers.

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