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Elsa Pataky On 'Exercise-Snacking' And How She Stays Strong

FYI, you’re about to witness a world-first. You see, at the same time as Elsa Pataky stars on the cover of the March issue of Women’s Health, her husband Chris Hemsworth is on the cover of Australian Men’s Health, in an exclusive reveal of his brand-new lifestyle app.

It’s this game-changing announcement that has brought the Women’s Health team to Byron Bay’s rolling hinterland, where Elsa is posing for our photographer on a balcony overlooking the sea in the distance, which is barely visible through the hazy afternoon heat. During the shoot, we get the lowdown on Centr (@centrfit) – a holistic program that takes you behind the scenes with Chris and Elsa to deliver their curation of A-list workouts, recipes and wellness inspiration.

Here’s a taster: fitness content from celebrity trainer Gunnar Peterson (he’s honed the bods of everyone from Jennifer Lopez to the LA Lakers), martial arts and HIIT pro Tiffiny Hall and Elsa’s own Byron-based yoga instructor Tahl Rinsky. Then there are the step-by-step meal ideas, plus a heap of expert-led sleep visualisations, motivation tips, mindfulness and mental health features. And the best part about it? The program is personalised to your goals (weight management? Strength building?), food (vegan? Gluten-free?) and workout tastes.

“The reason we created this program [was to bring together] all the people we think are really good in fitness, nutrition and mindfulness,” Elsa reveals in our cover story. “I think those three things are very important to keep healthy and happy.”

Abs-olutely authentic

Madrid-born Elsa’s love of a sweat session dates back to pre-Hollywood and pre-Hemsworth. “I’ve been working out since I was 16 or 17 years old,” she says. “I’ve always been a fan of fitness bodies, in men too – but more in women. I was focused, like, ‘Oh, I want to have a body like that.’ I love the athletes – they [are] all fit with muscles, and strong – so I’ve been working out for many years just to find what is good for me.”

What’s good for her now looks like this: weight training three times a week for an intense 30 minutes, plus time for stretching, and then one or two yoga workouts. Between set changes on our shoot, she does squats and stretches to “feel strong” and energised. She’s a fan of ‘exercise-snacking’ like this – busting out a few moves whenever and wherever she has a spare moment. 

“I can’t be without training for more than two weeks – I just get really nervous and my energy starts to go down,” she says. “When you start working out and your body’s changing and you’re achieving your goals, that’s such a great thing. So, I think that’s the motivation [to exercise] – feeling better and just being happy with you and knowing that you’re healthy. If you know you’re taking care of your body and you’re doing it for a reason, you can put aside the, ‘I can’t do it.’”

As for the yoga, which she’s been practising for eight years, Elsa’s style is more personalised than purist, incorporating extra abs and glute work to make it “strong” to “feel that I’m working out, too”.

“It’s just like another kind of energy you have in yoga,” Elsa says. “It’s also for your mind. At the end you have that moment of laying down and five minutes of like [does an exaggerated exhale]. Kind of like a meditation. I think that’s really important for your brain and to come down. At the end of the yoga, it’s just good for me to lay down and think about nothing … or try to [laughs].”

Read more of our chat with Elsa – including her barefoot approach to parenting and day on a plate – in the March issue of Women’s Health, on sale now.

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