Despite being very busy, Meghan Markle and Kate Middleton have incorporated workouts into their routines. The Duchess of Cambridge believes physical health and mental health go hand in hand, and is credited as a "keen sportswoman" on the royal family’s official site.
As for Kate’s sister-in-law, Meghan, fitness has long been a priority. Meghan is "very focused on her health," her former trainer, Craig McNamee, told Women’s Health. "When she gets to the gym, there’s no real complaining. She gets down to business right away and really enjoys it." After the birth of her son Archie with husband Prince Harry, Meghan was celebrated by moms everywhere for promoting postpartum body positivity. In the time since, she’s set a great example once again by finding time to take care of herself by working out daily.
So, what can we learn about fitness from the duchesses? Let’s take a look at what Meghan Markle and Kate Middleton’s workouts are really all about.
Kate Middleton is a lifelong accomplished sailor
Kate Middleton is a keen sportswoman who believes that sports — especially outdoor sports — can "change lives for the better," according to the official website of the royal family. Kate’s "passion for sport, nature and the outdoors stems from her own experience" with a variety of athletic endeavors, including sailing. Sailing is an exemplary workout, according to Ohio-based physician Dr. Leann Poston, because it requires you to engage muscles throughout the entire body.
Sailing is also a great way to get your fill of vitamin D, which is strongly correlated with optimal muscle function, according to Dr. Sharon Stills, a naturopathic medical doctor specializing in women’s health. "Sailing happens to be one of the best workouts around," Stills told Health Digest. ""Even if you’re not super strong, you will be once you get into sailing." Stills also pointed out that being on the water is also wonderful for the psyche.
Yoga is Meghan Markle’s "thing"
Before Meghan Markle married Prince Harry, she kept a lifestyle blog, The Tig, in which she often wrote about her love for yoga. The blog is now defunct, but the Duchess of Sussex continued to maintain a dedicated yoga practice. "Yoga is my thing," Meghan told Best Health in 2016, explaining that her mother, a yoga instructor, got her started on yoga at an early age. Although Meghan was resistant at first, she eventually caught the yoga bug and began practicing regularly.
Meghan’s dedication to yoga shows in her lithe physique, yoga instructor Daniela Mattos told Health Digest. But Mattos also pointed out that yoga is more than just a physical workout. "Yoga means union between body and mind, and taking even just a few minutes to practice can help refuel your spirit and sense of self," she continued.
Naturopathic medical doctor Sharon Stills also believes yoga is an unparalleled form of exercise. Yoga generates heat within the muscles, she explained to Health Digest. This reduces the risk of injury so that you can safely burn as many as 600 calories a session while conditioning your entire body.
Kate Middleton loves watching and playing this sport
Kate Middleton is a huge fan of tennis and regularly attends Wimbledon championships, according to the royal family’s official site. In fact, when Wimbledon 2020 was canceled, the Duchess of Cambridge was called upon to narrate a short video to commemorate what would have been opening day. In July 2020, Kate also teamed up with two-time Olympic tennis champion Andy Murray for a video call in an effort to inspire young tennis players to keep practicing despite obstacles. But Kate isn’t just a fan and spectator; Kate is an accomplished lifelong tennis player.
Kate reportedly even took lessons at the exclusive Hurlingham Club in Fulham, England. However, she didn’t have to join a club to have access to a tennis court. Anmer Hall, the Norfolk house that serves as the Cambridges’ country retreat, is equipped with tennis courts, according to Vogue.
Kate could not have picked a better sport, according to Dr. Leann Poston. "Tennis involves a lot of starts and stops, which means your core is going to be working hard to establish stability," she explained. And, of course, tennis is a fun way to engage in healthy competition while building upper body strength.
Meghan Markle is a big fan of Pilates
Meghan Markle has long been a fan of Pilates, a practice developed in the early 20th century for dancers to support their strength and stability and recover from injury. In August 2020, the duchess was reportedly seen practicing Pilates in Los Angeles with her famous neighbor and friend, Adele. It’s not surprising Pilates would be one of Meghan’s go-to workouts, since Pilates is often thought of alongside of yoga as one of the healthiest and safest routes to long, lean, flexible muscles, Sabina Rebis, an internal medicine doctor, told Health Digest.
Pilates was designed to be practiced in alternate formats. One format is "floor" or "mat," in which all of the exercises are performed on the floor (covered with a mat, of course). Another is "Reformer," which involves a machine (the Reformer). The same kinds of exercises from mat Pilates can be performed on the machine with the addition of gentle external resistance.
It isn’t clear which format Adele and Meghan have been seen practicing together. An anonymous source simply alleged to The Mirror, "Meghan and Adele have been having Pilates lessons. They are loving it. The instructor has also been giving lessons to Harry." Pilates for all!
Kate Middleton loves a good run
"Kate was really in her element at a SportsAid event at London Stadium this morning," noted the Daily Mail in February 2020, after observing the Duchess of Cambridge trying her hand at track running, among other sporty activities. That makes sense given that Kate Middleton is reportedly quite fond of running. As the Daily Mail noted a few years prior, "Kate finds the time to run as often as possible when she’s in Norfolk." She’d even sometimes run with her dog Lupo and while pushing baby Charlotte in her stroller.
What do the experts say about running? Naturopathic medical doctor Sharon Stills told Health Digest, "There’s no comparison to the runner’s high and that release of endorphins." The fact that endorphins are the "feel good" hormone could explain Kate’s desire to run as often as possible. In addition, running is a great choice for increasing and maintaining bone density, according to Dr. Leann Poston, an Ohio-based physician.
Megan Markle runs both on and off the treadmill
When Meghan Markle first began working with personal trainer Craig McNamee, she was already in great shape. In an interview with Women’s Health, McNamee attributed Meghan’s high level of fitness to the fact that she was a devoted runner — both on the road and on the treadmill.
In recent years, Meghan has supplemented her running routine with lower-impact exercises. As the duchess told Best Health in 2016, "As I’ve gotten older, running has become hard on my knees, so I can’t run outside the way I used to." That being said, Meghan also told the publication that she is not ruling out the possibility she may, one day, run a marathon.
This passion for running may just enable Meghan to live a long, healthy life. As internal medicine doctor Sabina Rebis told Health Digest, "Running can actually help you live longer. Because running trains the heart to pump more efficiently and reduces blood pressure it specifically makes runners less likely to die of heart attack or stroke."
Kate Middleton burns calories through parenthood
When Kate Middleton attended Queen Elizabeth II’s 90th Birthday Celebration in 2016, just a year after giving birth to Princess Charlotte, a political science professor from New Delhi managed to bend Kate Middleton’s ear long enough to ask her, "How did you lose all the weight after having two kids?" Sure, this conversation could have gotten awkward, but a very courteous Duchess of Cambridge simply smiled and, according to the professor, said, "I am running after my kids!" (via People).
Kate has demonstrated many times and in many different ways that she is a hands-on mom. In A Berry Royal Christmas, Kate spoke with Mary Berry, an iconic baker and host of the BBC’s The Great British Baking Show, and revealed fun tidbits like the fact that she bakes her kids’ birthday cakes from scratch, and that she and her kids maintain a vegetable patch (an avocation that is definitely not for the lazy). For those not experienced with hands-on mommyhood, a 2020 study estimated that the monthly energy burn of parenting at — wait for it — 50,000 calories per month or 1,478 calories per day.
Meghan Markle believes this workout is "the best thing you could do for your body"
Although we don’t know what kind of Pilates Meghan Markle and Adele have reportedly been doing, we do know one form of Pilates that Meghan definitely loves: Megaformer. Megaformer classes are based on Pilates exercises, but performed on the "Megaformer" machine invented by French bodybuilder and fitness expert Sebastien Lagree. The Megaformer allows a very broad range of movement that would not be possible using the Reformer, which translates to more strenuous workout. Women’s Health put it this way: A Megaformer is a Pilates Reformer, but on steroids."
What attracts many to Megaformer class is that, as Lagree told the Daily Mail last year, "You don’t bulk up; it’s about strengthening and tightening and sculpting your body, which you can tell Meghan has done," The Duchess of Sussex herself told Women’s Health UK that the Megaformer classes she attended at the Pilates Platinum studio owned by her friend, Heather Dorak, are "hands down the best thing you could do for your body" (via Harper’s Bazaar).
Kate Middleton has even tried martial arts
In February 2020, Kate Middleton was on hand at a reception for SportsAid, a charity devoted to helping children pursue their sports dreams, according to the Daily Mail. The fact that the duchess was dressed in the royal family’s version of "business casual" could not stop the Duchess from joining in when she was offered the chance to work on a few taekwondo moves.
Taekwondo is a highly precise and systematic form of martial arts. It’s one of a number of martial arts disciplines that originated in Korea. According to Dr. Leann Poston, an Ohio-based physician, taekwondo can improve both your physical and mental health. "Martial arts offer the benefit of instilling confidence and competence," Dr. Poston told Health Digest. "And that feeling is so powerful, it can carry over into other aspects of your life." And it’s really no wonder Kate joined in on the fun, as the royal family’s official site asserts that Kate believes "physical health complements mental health."
Meghan Markle jumps at the chance to get out there and hike
On New Years Day 2020, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge along with the duchess’ friend and former Suits costar Abigail Spencer were spotted on a hike in Canada, the Daily Mail reported. A few weeks later, Meghan Markle went out for another hike with her baby son, Archie.
In March 2020, Us Weekly confirmed that the mother-son hiking expedition wasn’t a one-time thing, but rather a daily occurrence. "Meghan takes a walk with Archie every single day through the woods," an insider alleged to the publication.
Internal medicine doctor Sabina Rebis thinks the duchess is onto something. "Hiking can be a total body workout," Dr. Rebis revealed in an interview with Health Digest. Adding a weighted backpack can up the calorie burn, but there’s no need for that when hiking with a baby strapped to one’s chest!
Kate Middleton’s secret fitness weapon is the plank
Kate Middleton’s slim physique has some concerned that she has lost too much weight since becoming a member of the royal family. However, others find her transformation enviable. While Kate may be a smaller size than when she first met her prince, she’s no "weakling," according to the Daily Mail. Far from it, in fact.
"Kate is an exercise junkie" who takes fitness "extremely seriously," an anonymous source alleged to the publication. It may be that the secret to Kate’s high level of fitness, according to the Daily Mail, is this one high-power move: the plank. This position is one that a person holds at the top of a pushup, but it has many variations that target different muscle groups.
Sure, Kate does more than planks, but planking alone is still a very effective workout. "Planking is one of the easiest exercises to perform, can be done anywhere, and requires no weights," certified personal trainer Jamie Hickey told Health Digest. "It strengthens your lower and upper abdominals, rhomboids, and trapezius, as well as the smaller muscles around the spine. All of those muscles contribute to a higher level of overall fitness and to good posture."
Meghan Markle loves circuit training
In early 2020, Meghan Markle’s former longtime trainer, Scott McNamee, talked with Women’s Health about the circuit training program the duchess stuck to for years. As designed by McNamee, Meghan’s full circuit workout is broken up into four parts: five minutes of cardio, five minutes of dynamic stretching, 30 minutes of resistance training (like medicine ball squats, mountain climbers, and pushups), and five minutes of stretching to cool down.
At each session, McNamee would change up the specific exercises that make up each individual part of the circuit. The idea is to "not be too repetitive and really create a dynamic workout with a lot of variety," McNamee said.
Circuit training is the perfect workout for anyone who is concerned about keeping things "fresh," certified personal trainer Jamie Hickey told Health Digest. "Not only is it adaptable in the big picture, but it also is structured so the exercises are performed in short bursts of, say, 90 seconds, with a short rest in between." As such, it’s hard for this routine to get "boring."
Kate Middleton’s workout includes an exercise ball
The Duchess of Cambridge likes to do core training on what’s known as a Swiss ball, according to the Daily Mail. However, she isn’t the only one in her family who likes it. "George is highly amused whenever he sees [his mother on it]," an onlooker reportedly told the publication.
We can get George’s fascination. A Swiss ball, also known as a gym ball or a yoga ball, is essentially an inflatable rubber ball with a diameter of between 55 and 75 centimeters. The smaller ball is for smaller people, the larger ball for larger people.
The Swiss ball is very effective for training all the core muscles, certified personal trainer Jamie Hickey told Health Digest. "Whether a move involves lying on the ball or sitting on the ball, the point is that the ball creates instability. Therefore it forces you to engage the muscles that stabilize you, and those include the upper and lower abs, the obliques, and the muscles of your back and along your spine."
Meghan Markle knows the value of resistance bands
Squats and other strength moves using a resistance band are "a crucial part of Meghan Markle’s fitness routine— especially when she’s on the road," Meghan’s former longtime trainer, Scott McNamee told Women’s Health. And tweaking-up the duchess’ fitness routine was one of the keys McNamee helped her take her workouts to a higher level. This was certainly a challenge considering Meghan was already in great shape.
That said, certified personal trainer Jamie Hickey told Health Digest that resistance band training can be valuable to people at any level of fitness. First, resistance bands provide gentle but significant "feedback" throughout both of the two phases of an exercise. The first phase is going against gravity to lift a weight, which could be your body weight while the second phase is working with gravity to control the descent of that weight.
Resistance bands are great to keep in your fitness "toolkit" as they take up very little space and can help you perform a series of moves — and a serious workout — without even leaving your house.