Jane Seymour stays fit with Pilates and garden-fresh dining
I prefer the term “Bond woman,” but Jane Seymour insists she was a girl. “I was 20 years old, and didn’t know how to act,” she says.
A former ballet dancer, Seymour is not only an illustration of poise and grace, but she also provides an important example of how to stay healthy and strong during a decades-long career in an industry not always known for promoting vitality or sanity in terms of exercise and diet.
Seymour, who costars in the upcoming feature film “Austenland” (premieres Friday), says she doesn’t worry if she gains a few pounds. She says she is in better shape now than when she played the Bond girl Solitaire in “Live and Let Die” 40 years ago.
Tell me about your childhood … I mean, as far as physical activity goes.
From the time I was born, my mother said I was dancing around the kitchen, and I fell in love with ballet from an early age. My dream was to become a ballerina, and it’s what I pursued in school. I didn’t like playing sports, and I was useless in gym, so I was ostracized. When I was 13, I got a partial scholarship to an arts school and got great training in every form of the arts, which included a lot of ballet.
The last time I danced professionally was with the Kirov Ballet company when I was 16 or 17. I injured one of my knees, and it was decided I wasn’t built for ballet anyway, so I segued into something else.
How did your exercise regimen change after ballet?
For a number of years I didn’t do anything. I tend to walk fast and I move around a lot, but I didn’t really work out until I came to Hollywood in 1976 and discovered Pilates. At that time there would be about five people in the studio. It was Kate [Jackson], Jackie [Smith] and Farrah [Fawcett] — the Charlie’s Angels — and Joan Collins and myself. We all knew each other. It was pretty amazing. That was before anyone knew about Pilates.
And are you still doing Pilates?
Yes, Pilates is perfect for anyone who has had an injury. They use it for injured dancers. It’s about body alignment, core strength and flexibility. It’s an amazing workout. There is a woman named Jeeny Miller who has a Pilates studio across from my house where I do one-on-one sessions. We also incorporate some weights, as well as what’s called a Gyrotonic machine, which has pulleys and straps, and it’s almost like you’re churning milk. It’s fantastic for rotation of the spine.
I had surgery for bulging discs in my lower spine a number of years ago, and I absolutely credit this machine and Jeeny to helping support my back. I work very hard on my core strength; it’s important for my body.
Are there other activities you like to engage in?
I like to fast walk on the beach, and I love to play tennis, but I have to be careful about tennis elbow and my knees. And I love to play golf, although it’s not necessarily a good movement with my back issues, but Pilates allows me to play. I like to do a little bit of yoga, but I don’t go to classes that often.
One of the great joys in my life was doing “Dancing With the Stars.” It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done as well as one of the most fun and exciting. Dancing with a bad back at my age — and having to do it live — it was huge. I loved learning that it was something I could still do. It brought back something into my life and made me realize how much I missed it.
I understand you have quite an organic garden. How does this affect your diet?
In the morning I like to have fresh from the garden a juice made with kale, apples, celery, ginger and carrots. And we have our own chickens here, so quite often I’ll have scrambled eggs. And I like homemade salsa with the vegetables from the garden. I love to go down to the garden and just pick and eat things. We have apples, blackberries, passion fruit, blueberries and every vegetable you’ve ever heard of. I eat from the garden every day.
My body says it’s had enough when it’s had enough, and I listen to it. I just choose to eat good food. If I choose French fries or ice cream, I don’t get mad at myself. I happen to love dark chocolate. That’s my guilty pleasure.
Fell is a certified strength and conditioning specialist and founder of sixpackabs.com.