Lashana Lynch made history playing MI6 agent Nomi in No Time To Die, becoming the first female to inherit the 007 mantle in the 25th instalment of the Bond franchise. As most Bond actors, Lashana underwent did some seriously strenuous workouts to get ready for this physically demanding role which involved doing 600 sit-ups a day, among other things.
And while much ado has been made over the 33-year-old actress’ casting since it was revealed that she was a potential recipient of the Aston Martin keys back in April 2019, very little is known about her training regime to get fighting fit for her groundbreaking role.
What is known, however, is that Lynch only found out she was going to play a OO agent after already throwing herself into stunt training to physically prep for a mysterious, butt-kicking role in the film – but her initial stunt test with the Bond stunt and armoury teams gave her a flavour for what was to come.
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In an interview with The Guardian (opens in new tab), Lynch revealed: “They hand you a bunch of weapons, and they teach you a routine for a few seconds or a minute, and then you basically have to copy the routine. So it was like, ‘OK, grab the gun! Shoot! Get down on your knees! Shoot! Roll on your back! Land on your feet! Shoot! Run, run, run! You’ve run out of ammo! Throw that away! Assemble this gun! Shoot!’ And that was the first out of five routines they taught me.”
Sounds intense, but she added, ‘I go to the gym, and I was ready with my gym clothes… it just gave me an insight into the fierceness and stealth-like qualities they were looking for…I think they were just looking for someone who would be able to be a match for Bond.’
Knowing she needed more than a bulletproof vest and spy gadgets to be believable, Lynch told Marie Claire (opens in new tab) that she jokingly asked the stunt team ‘can you make me a ninja? They were like – very seriously – ‘Yes’. And they did! Now I’ve certified as a ninja, got the medal, the chain, the watch…everything. I feel really proud of the physical work we did in the film. It was really hard but worth it in the end.’
Lynch was also ‘adamant that she does all her own stunts, telling Good Morning America (opens in new tab) that she wanted to give her ‘stunt double a day off at all times – I’ve got an athletics background, I can do it. They just did an incredible job of ensuring that I was prepared for the rest of my career, instead of just in No Time To Die’.
Lynch certainly punches and kicks above her weight in the film, convincingly turning Nomi into a highly competent, highly skilled fighter jet-flying agent. But, aside from her stunt training, little else has been revealed about how long and how hard she trained to get, as she puts it, ‘Ninga-strong’ – not when you consider that other world-saving heroes’ fitness journeys have been so well documented (think Chris Hemsworth for Thor; Henry Cavill for Superman; and Daniel Crag himself for his five outings as James Bond).
However, a bit of intensive googling reveals plenty of evidence to suggest that Lynch was already in incredible shape before filming began – and her crazy core strength is the one big secret weapon she has in her fitness arsenal, as this Instagram post of her performing a glider workout proves:
Clearly, Lynch was no stranger to the gym before stepping onto the set of No Time To Die, having already played the role of US Air Force pilot Maria Rambeau opposite Brie Larson in 2019’s Captain Marvel - she’d previously auditioned for roles in Black Panther and Spider-man: Homecoming - and she told the Evening Standard (opens in new tab) that the Marvel gig came at the right time for her because it prepared her ‘for Bond physically, mentally, even spiritually.’
And in an interview with The New Potato (opens in new tab) to discuss her role of Rosaline in the 2017 American period drama series Still Star-Crossed, she said of her typical workout regime: ‘I work out about four times per week if I’m not busy, and do anything from spin, step (my main thing, because I get to dance my heart out), aerobics, yoga or my own circuit. My friends and I usually meet up for a Friday night group gym session, where we all channel our inner Hulk and then finish with a steam room session and dinner…And then the next day we can’t walk!’
Unsurprisingly, Lynch was also sporty at school, where she played netball to county level and took part in track and field, favouring events like the 100m sprint. She also recently mentioned in a joint interview with Daniel Craig for Wired (opens in new tab) that she ‘actually used to do kung fu and Ju Jitsu’, too.
But just where does the 5’9” star get her abs of steel from? I think the real answer lies in the gruelling training regime she undertook for her 2012 big-screen debut in Noel Clarke’s British feel-good film Fast Girls. Playing an Olympic athlete vying for a place on a female sprint relay team training for a fictional GB World Championships, Lynch explained in an interview for The Mail On Sunday (opens in new tab) that the training was ‘a real baptism of fire’ because she was expected to train like a professional athlete for four hours a day, five days a week during 10-weeks of physical preparation under the guidance of Olympic sprinters Jeanette Kwakye and Shani Anderson.
Apart from the shock that the intense training programme had given her ‘man’s arms’, Lynch admits ‘the biggest challenge for me was the 600 sit-ups a day. Every morning I’d stand in front of the mirror and I could barely recognise myself. Because the fat was being replaced by muscle, my weight stayed the same. But my body shape changed radically.’
Of course, 600 sit-ups a day will do wonders for your six-pack, but it’s often said that a flat stomach is made in the kitchen, not in the gym. So how does Lynch eat? Very healthily, apparently. A big fan of nutrient-dense green smoothies (she treated herself to a new blender after filming wrapped on No Time To Die), she told The New Potato that she aims to stay away from white carbs, processed sugar products, dairy and wheat six days of the week (sounds pretty hardcore to me!), and only treats herself to the things she fancies on the seventh day.
If that wasn’t enough, she also starts each morning with a fresh lemon tea to wake up her digestive system, or a concoction of apple cider vinegar, Manuka honey and turmeric, while her go-to breakfast always is always smoked salmon, eggs and spinach.
Clearly, whether she’s working out, on a film set, or in the kitchen, the Bond star likes everything to be shaken, not stirred!