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Interview: Kacy Duke, Personal Trainer To Red Carpet-Ready Celebrities

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Celebrity Fitness Trainer, Kacy Duke, cofounder of Equinox Fitness Clubs, is the author of The Show It Love Workout: Celebrate the Body You Have, Get the Body You Want. New York magazine named her one of the top ten fitness gurus in her native New York City.

Kacy Duke’s red-carpet ready clientele includes Denzel Washington, Julianne Moore, Yoko Ono, Kirsten Dunst, Iman, Bruce Willis, Lenny Kravitz,Gwen Stefani, Greta Cavazzoni, Anne V, and Mary J. Blige.

The mother of a young man, the seemingly ageless Kacy Duke insists, “It’s not how old you are, it’s how old you feel.”

Kelly: Kacy, is fitness only for the wealthy?

Kacy: No, no way. It’s the easiest thing for everyone to have. It’s like breathing and requires no equipment. You can do pushups or run outside. Though physical results aren’t instant, you get a sense of accomplishment by exercising and eating the right foods. That’s instant. It’s getting in the game. Changing the body is an evolution, not a revolution.

You’ve been named one of the top 10 fitness gurus in NYC. What has made you a successful trainer to celebrities?

Once I spoke at a training seminar for trainers and was asked the same question. I’m asked this a lot, and there’s no clear answer. It’s important to be a good trainer, and not just do it for the money. Instead there must be a passion that comes from watching people’s bodies transform. It makes you creative.

Just today, a client of mine told me that I’m leagues away from any trainer she’s ever had. I’m contagious, she says! Answering her, I replied, “I don’t know about being contagious, but it’s nice to be appreciated!”

I also treat celebrities and non-celebs the same. Celebrities want to be treated like people. That’s how they see themselves – as people. It’s a fair exchange of energy and I’m not in awe of them. They don’t have to worry about impressing anyone with me. “She’s really cool,” – the word’s out there.

Do you tailor-fit each celebrity’s workout program?

I always ask a client what’s on their wish list – what they’d like to work on.) Then, I tell them that I’d like to do a little something here or there with their body. “ Oh yeah!” she or he answers, and then we’re partners.

Everyone is different. I’m an intuitive trainer; I listen to the body. When I look at a body, the body tells me what to do. I really can’t explain this ability. It’s like a kinesthetic energy. It helps me find ways to target the area that needs work.

Which celebs did you transform for a red-carpet entrance?

One year, I was really excited. Two of my clients — one being Julianne Moore — were nominated for Academy Awards, and Iman was awarding. I was flown out to California and given a gym to help my clients workout. The pomp and circumstance of the event was incredible. It is quite rewarding to watch a client, the person I helped transform, walk onto the stage. You can see the energy flowing through their body!

Who needed the most work?

This depends on the year and the movie. Julianne Moore had never thought she could have chiseled arms. She wanted to look great, but wasn’t sure if we could do it in time. “Oh ye of little faith,” I told her. We showed it some love and then her arms began to chisel nicely. It was beautiful to watch her walk down the red carpet!

When Denzel prepared for Hurricane, he needed to look chiseled and cut, like a boxer. Bruce Willis worked with me to get ready for Perfect Stranger and then again for Die Hard.

Each project an actor works on is different. I need to know what is the intention of the workout.

What have you done for Denzel Washington as a trainer, that no one else could?

I think there was a time that Denzel and I didn’t work out together for a while. Then I got a phone call from him, and he left me a message. “Kacy,” he said, “ I like what you do for my body. I love working with you. Would you consider having me as a client again?” And I phoned back and said, “Of course.” He’s been my client now for twelve years.

It’s not just about the training, though. It’s also the emotional and the spiritual aspects of the workout that I involve. The energy motivates you to acknowledge the greatness within you.

Kacy, you’ve written a first book, The Show It Love Workout: Celebrate the Body You Have, Get the Body You Want. Where does the unique title evolve from?

My philosophy is this: I am, I can, I do. Or you could say it’s about the Mindset, Motivation, and Movements. The title comes from how I help a person balance these three elements of self: emotional, physical, and spiritual in exercise.

When you love and respect yourself, the energy in your body becomes unlocked and does miracles. This to me is the mind-body connection. We each need a relationship with ourselves. We women tend to be oh so hard on ourselves because of aging, menopause, etc. We all go through these changes. I lost one ovary and wasn’t as fertile, but I never lost the sense of loving myself. This is the secret: the way to the fountain of youth is through loving yourself.

So, believe it or not, I say thank you thighs, thank you butt, for all you’ve done. There are times I look myself in the mirror, and say to my body, “I’m going to need your help.” All my energies are working with me, like a posse. Other people work and work, never getting anywhere; it’s because they never appreciate their bodies.

One day, while I worked with Denzel, I said, “Oh my gosh, my body’s having a bad day!” Denzel replied by repeating my mantra, “Show it love! Show it some love!” And I was back on it! That loving energy is miraculous!

Kacy, where did the idea about loving your body, and its individual parts, come from?

This idea evolved within me. I’m a student of metaphysics for many years. I chose a certain path. I had a really abusive second marriage and I said I’ll never do that again! I say thank you for the lesson, but that’s all. I know I do not want that kind of man again. When I see a fool, my brakes are on!

Instead, I started asking God and the universe for people in my life who have good qualities. That’s the kind of man I have now. It’s good to be nice to people. Don’t ever let someone treat you like damaged goods.

When you put what you want up front, that’s what you get. So say, “I love you thighs, I love you body. Thank you for getting me through that.”

I think people should embrace their lives and believe in the magic within you. It’s activated when you give yourself attention in a loving way. Be gentle, but encouraging. Have a sense of power and grace to get going. Believe in your body. This is your body. Make it a part of your life.

When you think about fitness, think bigger. Take a fitness week of seven days and actively participate in exercise, yoga, rest, massage, and meditation. These are aspects of how to balance yourself emotionally, spiritually and physically. Go for it. Don’t set yourself up to fail by limiting yourself to exercising just once or twice a week and not getting results. Empower yourself. This is just like sending men to the moon. They said it couldn’t be done, but it was.

I’m passionate about this! Show It Love and the rest will follow.

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About Kelly Jad'on

  • I agree with Kacy. My experiences with clients have been similar (although I don’t have any celebrity clients – yet :). I love her personal fitness professional philosophy.