Body by Parr

People who saw Madonna on stage this week came away talking about everything but her music. Tops on the list? Her body. Fans recall an earlier image of the round, voluptuous singer. But, they quickly point out, that girl is gone.

Since Madonna and Los Angeles-based fitness trainer Rob Parr began working out in February, 1987, she has become the Madonna with the magnificent muscle tone.

“This transformation is not an overnight thing,” says Parr, a former baseball player with a degree in exercise physiology. “Madonna realizes how important her health and fitness are to her performances. She knows how she wants to look and she works hard at it. Our workouts are very focused.”

Even when she is on tour, Madonna and Parr start their daily 2 1/2- to 3-hour workout with cardiovascular training. Sixty minutes of running starts off easy and progresses to more intense sprints, elongated strides and shorter steps. The routine changes every other day with a similar pattern of bicycle riding.


“Doing different combinations of exercise is what creates muscle balance and avoids injuries by building up overall strength,” Parr explains. “The cardiovascular training also helps Madonna’s singing by enabling her to achieve a more efficient use of oxygen.”

After running or biking, Madonna does a 30-minute stint on either a Lifecycle or a Versaclimber, which simulates mountain climbing, with arms and legs in motion.

The kinetic duo cool down by running stairs. Madonna then works out those strong, shapely legs, using manual resistance or repetitions with 10- to 20-pound weights. Her upper-body definition also comes from weight repetitions. Parr helps her maintain a flat stomach through a combination of exercises: sit-ups and pike-position lifts that work the upper, lower and oblique abdominal muscles.

“That sinewy look is created with workouts but also with low body fat,” Parr says. “Madonna is a vegetarian, she travels with a vegetarian cook. And she drinks gallons of water to replace lost body fluids. My biggest problem is making sure she has enough complex carbohydrates and protein, so she doesn’t get too thin because of her workouts and her performances.”

The final part of Madonna’s regime is 15 minutes of stretching--first the large muscle groups, then the smaller upper-body muscles.

“Madonna has the genetic potential to achieve what she has and she truly enjoys challenging herself,” Parr says. “Not everyone could look like her, but with the right, intelligent workout, everyone can look better. But, it takes time and dedication to build the endurance and stamina to then create muscle tone and shape.”

Parr has his own business, Up To Parr, in Los Angeles.