Taraji P. Henson is a busy woman, but according to her trainer, Mike T of Force Fitness, she doesn’t let that stop her from working out—she often goes straight from the airport to the gym. And she’s proud of her hard work. “@Forcefitnessinc got me feelin’ myself!!!” the Empire star proclaimed recently on Instagram, accompanied by a full-body selfie.
Henson started training with Mike about three months before Empire started filming. “She wanted to make a change and improve her physique,” explains Mike. “But she’s always been big on doing things the natural way, rather than going under the knife.” According to him, the camera really does add ten pounds, and Henson’s outfits on Empire leave little breathing room. But looking great in tight clothes doesn’t mean being stick thin. “You want to keep some of those curves and things that work for her,” Mike says. “I believe that a lot of her fans appreciate her shape. Her derriere has been known to get a lot of attention, so I try to make sure that we keep it nice and shapely. I don’t want her to lose all of her weight.”
A former college football player, model, and actor who got his big break on the Discovery Health channel’s National Body Challenge, Mike went on to train at Dr. Dre’s gym in Los Angeles and has now amassed a celebrity clientele including rapper Rev Run’s daughters Angela and Vanessa Simmons, Laker girls, models, and even Rob Kardashian. “When he was fit,” Mike points out.
Clearly, he understands the jet set lifestyle of his celebrity clientele. The most important thing to control while traveling, he says, is diet. “I want my clients to feel me staring at them through the glass as they take a bite of a burger,” he says. As intense as that sounds, he does allow for cheat days every once in a while. “Some people need a glass of wine to stay motivated and work hard. You should enjoy life.”
Taraji has the work and play balance down to a routine. She’ll watch movies and listen to music while doing cardio for 80 minutes. And this is on top of seeing Mike T 5-7 days a week, depending on her schedule. When she’s with him, they focus on weight training mixed with short, 8-10 minute spurts on the treadmill. She can now squat upwards of 180 pounds on her back.
“I always give her credit ,” says Mike. “She’s a warrior in the gym. She’s the type of client where if you tell her she can’t do something, she’s going to go even harder.”