We all know that Alicia Vikander isn't really dodging boulders in the new Tomb Raider film, nor is she truly swimming for survival through a stormy sea. However, just because Vikander won't ever be put in Lara Croft's level of danger on a movie set doesn't mean that faking those death-defying situations is easy. Doing so takes a whole lot of strength and skill — which means that Vikander had to workout extra hard to prepare for her role as the iconic action heroine.
How did she do it? She had a method: the Magnus Method.
The "Magnus Method" was created by Magnus Lygdback, a world-renowned Swedish health and wellness expert, entrepreneur, and life coach. The method, which focuses on balance, got Vikander into fighting shape for her first major action movie. (She's not alone: Lygdback also lists Alexander Skarsgard, Gal Gadot, and Ben Affleck as clients.)
I spoke with the man behind the method about how he got Vikander prepped to play the video game icon, and what advice he would give people who want to become stronger even without a blockbuster movie on the horizon.
What was Vikander's training schedule like?
"Schedule-wise, seven months before filming, Alicia started working out five times a week, with basic strength training and movement training, no more than an hour a day. Four months before filming, I joined her in London, and we started going into our heavy strength training cycle, when we were lifting a lot of weights and hitting the gym pretty hard. We started doing a lot of climbing at that time, MMA sessions and stunt work — mostly, technical stuff. The time in the gym, that was the most energy [she spent]."
How much of the training moves came from the video games?
"We have looked at the video games, and it was important to do right by the games. I think that the fans will be pleased."
Did you work closely with a stunt coordinator?
"The way I do this, is I oversee all her physical training and nutrition. I'm with my actress all the time. Even when they do their stunt work, I'm there. I'm not going to teach her climbing — obviously, we are going to get the best climber we have [to do that.] I was overseeing everything, making sure she didn't overwork herself or get injured. The stunt coordinator and the stunt team was amazing. They did their thing. They taught her all of the fights and everything. I had nothing to do with that, but I was still there to oversee it... It was for safety, and to make sure her body wasn't put under too much physical stress."
Don't be too hard on yourself. Don't be too extreme. Life is about balance.
Did she ever have to train in her costume, to get used to the physicality of it?
"Sometimes. When you do harness work, you move differently. We had to do that a couple of times when we knew she would be in a harness all day. Not too much in her costume, but every once in a while."
What recommendations do you have for young women who want to start strength training but don't know what to do?
"I would say don't be too hard on yourself. Don't be too extreme. Life is about balance. You need to make it a part of your life, which means you need to approach it from a balanced place from day one. Start three days a week, or whatever you want to do [that's manageable]. Find something that you want to do that supports the purpose. If you want to get strong, hit the gym. If you want better cardio, [you could] run. At least three times a week, no more than five."
What led you to personal training and the Magnus Method?
"I've always done a lot of different sports. I played ice hockey on a high level back in Sweden. I've been competing in dancing, doing martial arts... It's always been with me. My first memories are walking my father to the gym, with my little gym bag. It's always been a part of me. I started working with artists and actors and noticed that no one was looking at the whole picture. You see them one hour a day, but what about the 23 hours you don't see them? So, I developed my own method to find that balance between lifestyle, training, and nutrition."
How did you come to train Alicia for this film?
"Alicia contacted me. She knew I worked with Alexander Skarsgaard in The Legend of Tarzan. I also worked with a few of her friends in the past. Tove Lo [my client] is a good friend of hers, [as is] Icona Pop... She knew of me, and she knew my work, so that's why she contacted me."
Do you have any dream roles you would like to train someone for?
"I am a huge Star Wars fan! I'm buying my 4-year-old way too much Star Wars stuff, he doesn't really get it. I'm a huge Star Wars fan, I'm a huge James Bond fan. [Those two franchises] would be huge. I would definitely love to work with the next James Bond, whoever that it is."
What does your method look like when someone isn't training for a big action movie?
"That's the beautiful thing. Everything I do, nutrition-wise and exercise-wise, it's all good stuff. It's thing that everyone [can] do. You just have to do it more in moderation. Take an extra day off."
What advice would you give someone looking to incorporate more exercise into their life?
"Find something you like and something you need. Sometimes those things go hand-in-hand, but you need to be honest with yourself about what you need."