Daniel Craig's Bond Trainer Has the Approach to Fitness and Nutrition That You've Been Waiting For

Simon Waterson, author of Intelligent Fitness and trainer to the stars of the Marvel, Jurassic and Bond cinematic universes, shared his tricks of the trade that you can adopt in the real world.

By Natalie Finn Feb 12, 2022 12:00 PMTags

Daniel Craig never cared for running.

Alas, James Bond was always running. Enter Simon Waterson.

"That's the first question that you ask: 'What do you hate doing?'" the London-based trainer who got Craig into 007-caliber shape for all five of his Bond films told E! News. "If someone hates running, you're not having them do 10K."

Which isn't to say that Craig, who began his, er, run in Casino Royale at 37 and ended it at 51 in No Time to Die, didn't have to work on his stride. And rest assured, it took about a year this last time to assure he'd be that lean, mean, Queen-and-country-defending machine.

But Waterson long ago figured out a way to balance out the rigors of training that basically any movie with a believable action sequence requires these days and not have actors ranging from Chris Evans, Benedict Cumberbatch and Jake Gyllenhaal to Chris Pratt, Blake Lively and John Krasinski cursing his name at the end of every workout.

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Well, maybe they did after some workouts, but Waterson's specialty is not only mapping out exactly what each journey will require depending on the person and their onscreen character, but also anticipating his clients' needs once the going gets tough and helping keep their spirits as high as possible through a long, grueling movie shoot.

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Just how he's been doing that over the years, since his days training Craig's predecessor, Pierce Brosnan, is detailed in his new book, Intelligent Fitness: The Smart Way to Reboot Your Body and Get in Shape. He both breaks down the workouts that turned Craig into Bond, Evans into Captain America, Krasinski into Jack Ryan and Bryce Dallas Howard into the fleet-footed manager of Jurassic World, and offers easily adaptable ways to do as the stars do when it comes to your own approach to exercise and nutrition.

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"It's not a very serious science manual, but it's a serious motivational manual," Waterson said, explaining his approach to sharing his tricks of the trade, which included detailing the more relatable aspects of these actors' fitness journeys. Craig, for instance, worked his ass off all week but then got to enjoy his weekend pints. 

"The honesty of it is that somebody else can't do it for you, the reps, the miles," the expert (who may not be able to do it for you but does usually work out right alongside his clients) said. "I'm just there to motivate, though a lot of actors are so highly motivated, I spend a lot of my time trying to demotivate, like, 'Please, listen, just have a rest, put your feet up and have a beer.'"

For instance, while getting Tom Hiddleston, a rugby player and cross-country runner in earlier years, into extra-buff shape for Kong: Skull Island, Waterson recalled, "I'm trying to go, 'Tom, please stop doing all the miles, you've got a film to make!'"

Another example that he shared in the book: Ex-Marine Adam Driver went into full light-sabre fight master mode training for the role of Kylo Ren in the latest Star Wars trilogy, and Waterson had to remind him that so much force shouldn't always be with him.

"I had to tell Adam when to slow down, and when it was more important to recover for progression rather than train for progression, as fatigue is your worst enemy and can lead to potential burnout," he wrote.

So on the flip side of going on 3:30 a.m. runs with Gyllenhaal to avoid the blazing sun in Morocco during filming of Prince of Persia or staying near Evans' Boston home for six months to get him through two-a-days to sculpt Steve Rogers' post-super-serum physique, there's also the part where Waterson has to put his foot down.

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"It's also having the balls to say no," he said when asked what else was in his job description aside from de facto confidante and therapist after all those hours of working out together. "That is where you gain a lot more respect, not being the yes man all the time. You need to know when to say, 'No, not training tonight, we're not doing that, and that's it.'"

It's all about balance, Waterson emphasized. "Be kind to yourself."


And while actors have their marching orders, if by any chance you don't need to outrun a dinosaur in heels for your day job, you've got time to implement a new regimen. Since the beginning of any new routine can be daunting, Waterson recommends you "start slowly"—just as all his clients have done—and either keep trying new things (in the gym or, better yet, outside) and/or make a point to do activities you already know you enjoy, like swimming or bike riding.

Then, no matter your age, he wrote, "while you should train like a child, you ought to recover like a granddad—carefully, methodically and often slowly."

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Intelligent Fitness: The Smart Way to Reboot Your Body and Get in Shape by Simon Waterson

Utilize Simon's practical and accessible guidance to reimagine and reboot your body.

But maybe you like working out just fine, and it's the "eating right" part of the whole deal that gets you tripped up. If so, you're hardly alone.

Simon Waterson

"It's become so scientific and so meticulous that none of us understand it anymore," Waterson, who has a section in the book on how deprivation is never the right move, told E!. "We really are struggling to understand our bodies and what their needs are. I've just—not dumbed things down—but simplified it. Look, if you're eating quality food and nothing is taken off the table, if you work within parameters rather than definite meal plans—diversity is the biggest thing. All food groups, all the time." (Necessary modifications are of course fine for vegetarians, plant-based diets, etc.)  

He's found that sticking within certain parameters and themes such as "Vegetarian Mondays and "Pescatarian Tuesdays," which is what Craig did for Bond training, work particularly well.

"That's more enjoyable because you can take that anywhere with you," Waterson explained. "If you're going out to dinner or a family event or a work event, or staying at home, the theme stays the same. It makes life so much more simple and much less stressful. The worst thing about nutrition is the stress of it." Any kind of deprivation, he added, "that's not being kind to yourself, physically or mentally."

Simon Waterson

And while he mainly works with people who have to look amazing as part of the job description, it's still all about feeling good—and aesthetics are a nice byproduct of that, Waterson said. Then the better you feel, the more motivated you are to keep going, which is part of why setting boundaries so you don't fry yourself physically or mentally is essential.

Another important part of his job, he shared, was to "manage expectation" when it comes to what a person wants to look like, or thinks they want to look like. He promises he'll get an actor to "100 percent of their genetic capability," but "not everyone's capable of looking like Chris Hemsworth. And usually nine times out of 10, what people think they want to look like doesn't translate very well anyway."

Guys who say, "'Oh, I've got to get big,' the camera doesn't really recognize size," Waterson said. "It's all about the nice lines and cuts, and the way the body moves."

Speaking of cuts, Cumberbatch famously once said that, while he spent months eating right and working out to prepare for Doctor Strange in 2016, on the day of a big shirtless scene, he drank coffee and ate Skittles to look particularly jacked.


Waterson explained that temporary dehydration is "another tool in a trainer's box," albeit one he doesn't reach for often.

"You can manipulate what the body gets rid of, and water is easy to manipulate," he said. It's not unusual to see an actor "wedging in a few pushups, a few [sit-ups], eating a banana to add some fructose sugar to get a bit more vascular, get rid of a bit more water." It's "very rare" that he's had to have his clients do that, but it's an option if needed. 

Meanwhile, he counts Cumberbatch, whom he's worked with on a handful of films, including the upcoming Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, as one of the most impressive transformations he's been a part of.

That's "not completely muscular-based," Waterson noted, though the English actor has filled out considerably since his lankier Sherlock days. Rather, he had to master "a commanding presence, great posture, good physique and looking capable, which I think is the biggest thing."

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It certainly worked for Cumberbatch, who was one of the stars who sang Waterson's praises for Intelligent Fitness, writing that "working with Simon is the nearest you get to actually being a superhero."

Dallas Howard wrote that, thanks to him, she's "been able to sustain the highest level of health and fitness through several action movie franchises
without injury or misery." Moreover, she trusted him completely and found it "thrilling" that everyone is now able to read up on Waterson's strategies.


Krasinski declared himself to be in the best shape of his life at 41, and Waterson did no less than change the actor's "entire mental approach to the whole process."

Appreciative of the enthusiastic feedback, Waterson said, "We've all gone through this process and evolved together and they've benefited from a lot of my theory and philosophy, so they were really happy to repay it as well. The book hopefully inspires people and motivates them."

And since the body part standing in our way of trying something new is almost always our brains, what better place to start than adjusting what we think we know about getting in shape and seeing where a fresh mindset takes us?

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