While acting is something we’ve known Academy Award-winning actress Halle Berry most for, something else she’s passionate about is health and wellness. This isn’t new for the star, though. The 54-year-old, lauded often for her physical fitness and youthfulness, has prioritized taking care of herself, body and mind, ever since she was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes as she entered her 20s.
“I got diagnosed with diabetes and I quickly learned that I could control my diabetes and live a longer, healthier life if I exercised regularly, changed my diet and did some things in my life that are called destressors,” she tells ESSENCE. That decision changed everything, and she hasn’t looked back. In fact, she’s turned her commitment to health and wellness into an opportunity to help others change their lives for the better. She’s done that through her Fitness Friday series on Instagram, and her platform rē•spin. She recently partnered with Amazon and their fitness band Halo to launch training programs created with her team, including personal trainer Peter Lee Thomas, in the Amazon Halo App. rē•spin products will also be available at seven rē•spin x Amazon Halo pop-up locations around the country, and she will be sharing all the workout gear and everyday essentials she can’t get enough of through her Celebrity Store on Amazon.
Berry certainly seems to be the new star guru of health and wellness, but if you ask her, she says she’s simply a student of it.
“I’m not an expert [laughs], or a guru,” she says. “I’m just someone trying to live my best life possible.”
We spoke with the actress about what people can expect from her platform’s partnership with Amazon and the Halo, her appreciation for Instagram, what it takes to stay fit and fierce in your 50s and plenty more.
ESSENCE: We love the line of rē•spin products! Can you share what fans and future customers can expect from the Amazon x rē•spin training programs?
Halle Berry: We always try to keep it innovative and try to steer away from the typical kind of workouts. I’ve gotten into martial arts lately. So some of them are martial arts inspired, they’re yoga inspired and some of them are just ways to stretch and keep your body long and lean and your joints oiled up. So we try, along with my fitness partner Peter Lee Thomas and all of our trainers at rē•spin, to offer something a little bit off the beaten path. Things that are not so usual but challenge our bodies in different ways that maybe people haven’t before.
You make living a peaceful and well lifestyle look easy, but we know it’s not. What’s your best advice on practicing self-care as a lifestyle?
I just think people have to think of doing something every day. In order for it to become a real lifestyle, you really have to practice it and you can’t practice it sometimes. You have to really make a commitment, and when you do something for 21 days it becomes a habit. I think it’s about being mindful every day to move your body or you can meditate, that’s also moving your mind. You can read, that’s allowing your mind to travel. It’s just about being active in some way and consciously. You can journal. It’s forcing yourself to be active whether emotionally or physically every single day.
Your Instagram page has been a space you’ve used to share fitness advice, and also to just share more of your life and personality! As a major public figure, what do you love about being on Instagram and what could you do without?
I love that it’s so fun. I think that’s the part of it that I try to lean into and not to take myself seriously. To try and stay a part of what’s happening but still be age appropriate [laughs]. Not try to do the things my daughter’s doing at 13, but try to stay up with what’s happening and stay connected with my children. It’s their world and it’s what they’re growing up in. I have to know what’s happening and understand it.
But as an actor and public figure, I think it’s really important to have my own voice. I can say what I want to say about what I want to talk about. It can be in my voice and my words. For a long time I felt that the story that was perpetuated about me just wasn’t true but it was editorialized by people and it was out of my control. Now I get to control and show different sides of myself. I really love that.
The thing I hate, and this will never stop, I know because it’s the nature of the world, but I really hate the negativity that gets on there. I just really want to like, slap these trolls because it really is damaging to people. It’s damaging to young people and I really wish that if you really didn’t have something [nice] to say, don’t say it. If you’ve got something so negative to say about somebody, why are you on their page? You’re obviously into them or you wouldn’t be there. So it’s kind of annoying and I worry for the younger people who really don’t understand that these are just hating trolls that have no life and they take it so to heart. It can be really, really damaging, and I see that with my daughter and it infuriates me.
How are you able to protect your daughter and encourage her when dealing with that? You don’t want to block kids from being on social media because that’s what their peers are doing, but like you said, it can be damaging. So how do you protect your kids from that?
“Well that’s one of the reasons I’ve kept them out of the media, to protect them, for this very reason. But as she’s starting to dibble and dabble and get more into it along with her friends, I just try to remind her that these are trolls and at times these people are bots and they’re not real and they make these fake accounts just to come and say stuff like this. It’s not something she should take to heart. While that’s easier said than done, I think as a mother, all I can do is reiterate that message and hope that in the quiet of her mind, she’s listening.
And I have controls on all of her devices [laughs]. She can only go but so many places.
I did want to throw some quickplay questions at you to learn more about your wellness habits and loves in regards to fitness:
What’s the one song on your workout playlist that you can’t do without?
Oh, I know. It’s “WAP” [laughs]. Can’t do without it. Can’t do without it.
People wouldn’t expect that from you Ms. Berry!
I know! ‘Cause see they don’t know. They don’t know wassup. They don’t know [laughs].
What’s the one rē•spin product you can’t do without when exercising?
I would probably say the booty band. I think that’s multipurpose. You can use it for your booty, for your legs, and you can also use it for your upper body at the same time. I like the multifunctionality of it. If you have to have one thing.
If you had to choose between boxing or yoga, which would you choose?
Oh boxing, for sure. It’s just an all full-body workout. And I really like the feeling these days of working out but also learning skillsets that allow me to protect myself. I walk through the world with a sense of confidence that feels really empowering. So you get to work out, but you’re also learning some really meaningful and purposeful skills.
I saw the photo you posted of yourself in the leopard leotard, which I loved. Someone asked, ‘What do I have to do to look like this in my 50s?’ [laughs] I see that often when it comes to you. So what’s the easiest way to answer that question?”
You gotta start in your 20s [laughs].
What happens if you’re in your 20s and 30s and it’s too late? [laughs]
I think it’s just living a purposeful life. I often thank being diagnosed with diabetes. It’s about taking a bad situation and making it good and learning from it. That singular act, that singular diagnosis really changed my life and got me on a path that allows me to be like this in my 50s. But it’s never too late to start. You can start anytime you want. You’ve just got to make up your mind to do it and then you’ve got to stick to it. That’s key.”
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