How Dakota Johnson Worked Out to Prep For “Madame Web”

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MADAME WEB, Dakota Johnson as Madame Web, 2024.  ph: Jessica Kourkounis / Marvel /  Columbia Pictures / Courtesy Everett Collection

In the just-released “Madame Web,” Dakota Johnson is appearing as the Marvel character Cassandra Webb, a paramedic who discovers she’s clairvoyant and uses her abilities to alter the future. While Webb’s main super power is her mental ability, Johnson still incorporated physical training to prepare herself to assume her role in the action-packed film.

Johnson personally reached out to The Sculpt Society founder Megan Roup, who agreed to help her train for the role. The actress was already a fan of The Sculpt Society, a workout streaming service offering dance cardio and sculpting classes, having discovered its app during the pandemic, Roup tells POPSUGAR.

Although Johnson had followed along with the virtual workouts for years, securing the role of Cassandra Webb prompted her to seek out private, in-person sessions with Roup. “She really wanted to work on overall endurance and strength for the role,” Roup says. “She had mentioned to me that days on set were really long and she wanted to be prepared for that.”

We spoke to Roup to get more details on Johnson’s training, including her exact workout plan.

Dakota Johnson’s “Madame Web” Workouts

Johnson’s main goal for her workouts with Roup was to build more endurance and strength. The actor was working off a pretty strong foundation, so Roup was left to find a way to challenge Johnson even more. For that, Roup relied on her signature mix of low-impact exercises and dance cardio.

In person, Roup led Johnson through “a traditional 45-minute full-body Sculpt Society class,” Roup says. “[These] incorporate a dance cardio warm-up, arms with weights into standing legs, plank abs, right side of booty, abs on back, left side of booty, and dance cardio.”

Though Roup’s repertoire includes beginner-level classes, because Johnson was already a regular of The Sculpt Society, Roup took her through intermediate/advanced-level workouts. That said, Roup adjusted each in-person session to accommodate Johnson’s in-the-moment needs. “I’m a really big believer in intuitive movement, so I would always check in with her on how she was feeling energetically that day,” Roup says.

Still, to meet Johnson’s goal of increasing her endurance, the trainer made sure the classes were fast-paced, without long breaks. “I think that mix of beginning with a little bit of cardio, ending with cardio, and blending that with low-impact sculpt and strengthening exercises that really lent itself to really making sure she was building that endurance,” Roup says.

During the “sculpt” portions of the workouts, Johnson would utilize a mix of equipment, including two- to three-pound hand weights, a Pilates ball, resistance band loops, ankle weights, and one of Roup’s personal favorites, sliders. “Sliders remind me of being on a Pilates reformer,” says Roup. “It’s giving you a lot of instability and a functional exercise. So you take a lunge, you add a slider in it, it’s a lot more difficult.”

Although Johnson grew up dancing, Roup says she kept the dance cardio portion of the workouts — which made up about 15 percent of each session — pretty “simple and repetitive.” But simple doesn’t mean boring. “Dakota has the best energy — she really just has fun,” Roup says.

How to Train Like Dakota Johnson

A typical week of training looked like this: Twice a week, Roup and Johnson met in person for a 45-minute full-body sculpt class. Once or twice per week, Johnson would take a rest day. “I think most of us who are super active don’t take enough rest days, so I recommend one to two rest days [per week] typically,” Roup says. On the remaining three to four days, Roup would have Johnson complete a 20- or 30-minute video from The Sculpt Society app on her own.

One of the best parts about this training plan is that it’s surprisingly achievable to replicate at home. The specific 20- to 30-minute videos Johnson followed along with are available within the intermediate/advanced version of The Sculpt Society’s January Challenge. You can also find 45-minute full-body workouts in the app that are similar to the in-person routines Roup led Johnson through. But any sculpt workout that mixes cardio with low-impact strength moves, and puts an emphasis on continuing to move throughout the workout, without super-long breaks, could help you net similar results.

That said, Roup stresses the importance of exercising according to your fitness level rather than copying someone else’s training plan verbatim — and, again, making sure to honor your energy levels and your body’s needs on any given day.

Ultimately, Johnson’s “Madame Web” workout plan let her power through long days on set while filming, and following along with a similar plan can help you build the endurance you need to get through your own challenging days — whether that involves playing a Marvel hero or not.

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