It’s not often you’ll hear someone who can so readily kick your butt refer to themselves as “bubbly.” But that perfectly sums up Anisha Gibbs, professional dancer, expert martial artist, poached egg enthusiast, and Rough Around The Edges trainer.
Although she got her start in dance, she’s racked up an impressive resume as a stuntwoman, appearing in TV shows like Luke Cage and American Horror Story, and doubling for notable celebrities, such as Halle Berry.
Currently working on the set of John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum, Anisha had a few moments to catch up with us between working out and working, and gave us the inside scoop on how she stays fit, positive, and composed under pressure.
Openfit: How did you get involved with fitness? Were you an active kid?
Anisha Gibbs: Fitness became an important part of my life very early, but I didn’t necessarily realize it at the time. I’ve always been super active and off the wall, so once I saw the Power Rangers, I was like, ‘I want to do that!’ My mom was like, ‘OK, let’s put you in something so you’re not all over the place.’
So you just jumped head first into martial arts?
I really wanted to, but I actually started dancing first. I was always dancing in and outside of school. I was part of a dance crew called Case Closed—we were pretty cool.
I danced all the way through college and got to travel the world for two or three years doing it professionally with some big artists, like T-Pain.
At the same time, however, I was training in martial arts and got my second-degree black belt in kenpo and taekwondo.
Did all that training come in handy when you got more into the fitness community?
I liked being around people and I understood the structure of class-based fitness. I started teaching adult martial arts classes when I was 14 years old. It was kind of scary because I didn’t know if they would listen to or respect me. But I think because my personality was so open and bubbly, and also strict at the same time, I gained respect from adults and kids.
When I came to LA, I used that formula when I started doing more fitness things. I started mixing the martial arts and dance together to form my own lane in fitness.
How did that transfer into stunt work?
I came back to LA after a dance tour a few years ago and a couple of my friends were doing stunts. My mind was set on dance, so stunts was a whole new world and community. But people kept telling me that I had the background and the skills to do it. They dragged me into it.
I started training a little, and that little bit took me to my first big movie. It moved really fast. Stunts was always for me, but I didn’t find it until later.
We know about the physical part of stunt performing, but what else goes into it?
The little things are the hardest. I need to be able to watch an actress come around a corner and notice if and how she crosses her feet. I have to know which hand she uses to hold the prop gun so everything will match in the shot.
I have to think to myself, ‘How exactly did she stab that guy?’ which isn’t a thought many people have at work [laughs]. My boss will look at me and say, ‘What did she do?’ and you have to know. If you’re slow in the business, you cost people money and then you’re out.
Your stunt work takes you all over the world. What are some of your favorite places you’ve traveled?
I love Australia. Melbourne is my favorite because of the shopping. There are great shops there. I also love Cannes, France, for the water and the structure and the houses. It’s a truly beautiful place.
Do you find it difficult to keep up with your workouts when you’re on the move?
I’ll always get the other girls on set or on stage when we’re dancing to get in some extra stretching on breaks. It keeps us warm and ready.
You’ve clearly got the working out nailed down. What about diet? Does all the traveling make it difficult to eat right?
I tend to keep it pretty clean. I do like poached eggs and avocado in the morning. That’s my go-to. I eat salads and a lot of greens. I don’t cheat much.
Is there a particular exercise that you really dread when you see it in your training?
There are a lot of exercises that are good for you but not particularly fun [laughs], but I think planks are the worst. They’re so boring! You’re just hanging out and waiting for it to work. Sometimes my friends and I will do it in front of each other and do patty cake. It makes the exercise harder, but it takes your mind off of it. Having a partner also makes it a lot nicer.
Do you have any tips for people trying to stay motivated?
If I’m not motivated to work out then I’ll do things like yoga or meditate to keep my mind focused. I know that yoga is still a form of working out, but it’s easier on your body. Sometimes I’ll do some recovery work, like massages and acupuncture, to make my body feel good again, and then I naturally want to get back into exercise. Treat your body nicely.