“And my buns, they don’t feel nothin’ like steel.” – Clueless
Whether drawn to the fearless action heroines of Lara Croft and G.I. Jane, the never-give-up mentality of Million Dollar Baby and Flashdance, or the on-the-road-to-self-improvement leading ladies of Clueless, Bridget Jones’s Diary and Romy & Michele’s High School Reunion, we’re sure you’ll find at least one of the below girl-powered workout moments in film to motivate you to hit the gym, the field, or the bungee ballet cord. Plus, we’ve even hunted down how to get the look…although in the case of Romy & Michele’s green lamé workout gear – wear at your own risk.
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The Moment: Jess Bhamra (Parminder Nagra) evades her strict parents and sheds her traditional upbringing while kicking it on the field with Jules Paxton (Keira Knightley), playing in championship soccer games and falling for coach Joe (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) in 2002’s romantic-comedy-drama Bend it Like Beckham.
The Moment: Everyone’s favorite British thirtysomething singleton, Renée Zellweger’s road-to-self-improvement Bridget Jones (2001) has sworn off ex-boss + lover Daniel Cleaver (Hugh Grant) and is shaping up (literally) for a new career in TV. While desperately trying to sweat off some pounds on an exercise bike, Jones pedals like a demon, realizes that said pounds are going to take weeks, not minutes, and manages to fall off the bike while dismounting. All we have to say is: we feel you girl. #thestruggleisreal
The Moment: Popular Beverly Hills high schooler Cher (Alicia Silverstone) in the midst of making over hopelessly klutzy new student Tai (Brittany Murphy) in the 1995 cult-hit coming-of-age comedy, Clueless.
“And my buns, they don’t feel nothin’ like steel.” – Tai
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The Moment: While spending the summer of 1963 at a sleepy Catskills resort with her family, 17-year old Frances “Baby” Houseman (Jennifer Grey) sheds her straight-laced image after becoming dance partner to, and falling in love with, dreamy camp dance instructor Johnny Castle (Patrick Swayze). In this scene in 1987’s Dirty Dancing, Johnny’s former partner Penny (Cynthia Rhodes) shows Baby the ropes.
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The Moment: Lovestruck Turtle (Jerry Ferrera) taking a beating in the ring from UFC champ Ronda Rousey (as herself) in exchange for a date when the Entourage (2015) gets back together for a large screen dose of Hollywood hijinks.
The Moment: In 1983’s iconic dance flick Flashdance, 18 year old Alexandra “Alex” Owens (Jennifer Beals) welds steel, works as an exotic dancer and falls in love on a quest to pursue her true dream: becoming a professional dancer.
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The Moment: 35 year old Demi Moore-as-Lieutenant Jordan O’Neill, the first woman to join the elite Navy Seals in 1997’s G.I. Jane. In this intense workout scene, Demi not only endures sit-ups and pull-ups in increasingly impossible positions, but proceeds with punishing one-armed press-ups. No big deal. Oh – and there was no stunt double. Demi trained with a special forces instructor for the role to become convincingly (and deservedly) ripped.
The Moment: What starts out as a mesmerizing bungee ballet workout turns into an epic fight sequence as enemy-kicking heroine Lara Croft (Angelina Jolie) defends the manor in 2001’s action-adventure flick, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider.
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The Moment: To portray determined underdog boxer Maggie to cantankerous trainer Frankie Dunn (Clint Eastwood) in 2004’s Million Dollar Baby, Hilary Swank had about 90 days to not only learn how to box, but put on a studio-mandated 10 pounds of muscle in the process (she ended up putting on 19). How does one do that exactly? Well:
“My training was two and a half hours of boxing and approximately an hour and a half to two hours lifting weights every day, six days a week. The producers asked me to gain 10 pounds of muscle. I gained 19 pounds of muscle. I started at 110 and went to 129. And in order to do that, I had to eat 210 grams of protein a day. Now, your body can only assimilate so much protein, so I had to eat every hour and a half. So with a meal, I would drink my egg whites because I could never eat 8 to 12 egg whites in a sitting. It’s just the worst thing ever. I had to drink flax oil. Flax is a really important oil for your brain and to also just keep everything moving when you’re eating that much protein.” – Hilary Swank, as told to MovieWeb
The Moment: An homage to the 80s workout craze, Jamie Lee Curtis plays Los Angeles aerobics instructor-love interest to Rolling Stone reporter John Travolta, assigned to write an exposé on how “fitness clubs are the new singles bars.” As evidenced in the below photo, Curtis worked her butt off for the role (even tacking on 10 lbs of muscle) in the 1985 drama Perfect.
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The Moment: In the 1997 cult-hit comedy Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion, BFF’s Romy (Mira Sorvino) and Michele (Lisa Kudrow) resolve to impress their classmates at their upcoming 10 year high school reunion via, among other things, lamé-clad spin class sessions and fabricating a story about being the creators of the Post-it.
“This lady is totally sick.” – Michele
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[Related: 6 Workouts to Try Now + What to Wear to Each]
The Moment: Bridget (Blake Lively) tries to impress coach-turned-crush Eric (Mike Vogel) at soccer camp in Mexico by stepping up her workout game in the 2005 coming-of-age drama, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.
The Moment: After walking out of the gymnastics finals at the World Championships one year earlier, naturally gifted athlete-turned-wild child Haley (Missy Peregrym) has a run-in with the law. The punishment? A return to the regimented world of competitive gymnastics, at none other than the elite Vickerman Gymnastics Academy run by a legendary, hard-nosed coach (Jeff Bridges) in the 2006 comedy-drama Stick It.
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The Moment: One way to let out your office aggression? By jogging it off on your in-office treadmill à la Kara Monahan (Jessica Biel), a jaded Los Angeles sports publicist who swears off love and throws her annual “I Hate V-Day” party in 2010’s ensemble cast romantic-comedy, Valentine’s Day.
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