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Action Figure

A Naval troubleshooter on TV's JAG, Catherine Bell builds muscle power with Pilates.

First appeared in WHO Weekly February 7, 2000.  By Elisabeth Adams.  Thanks to Kim for sending it.


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Flexing by the pool: Bell (at Sydney's Double Bay Ritz Carlton) begins with a hamstring-toning parallel leg press.


After two minutes on a Pilates machine, curvy-in-all-the-right- places JAG star Catherine Bell - in Sydney to film a double whammy of the TV series - has broken into a sweat.  "This is called the Hundreds," she gasps, her arms inching up and down with painstaking slowness.  "It's good for your stomach, arms, butt, legs: pretty much everything."

     High praise indeed, but Bell's flab-free physique is a stronger advertisement for the latest exercise craze to grip Tinseltown.  Not surprisingly, it was another buff body that got the Los Angeles-based 31-year-old hooked: "I saw a girl at the gym who had this perfect body, like a dancer's.  I asked her, 'What do you do?'  She said, 'Pilates!' "

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Pilates' streamlining moves also include (insets, from left) the forward scoop for posture and pecs; the ab-toning "Hundreds," which is repeated 100 times ("You pump your arms, suck your stomach in and squeeze your butt," says Bell): and the rowing routine, an arm, spine and stomach muscle strengthener. Wearing figure-hugging gear during a session (cool cotton rather than sweaty Lycra) is essential: "The trainer needs to see if you're pulling your stomach in."


Already a keen weight-trainer and kick-boxer (she still does "a lot of things," including hiking with actor husband Adam Beason, 30), Bell signed up for private training eight months ago. She noticed a difference "in two, three weeks.  I was getting stronger and really noticing the muscle tone and I got rid of some of the bulky muscle that I had from doing weights."  Lately, finding a spare hour to train "at least once a week" is harder than performing the discipline's precise movements. "We've been working five days a week, 14-16 hours, all the time," she moans.

     Not that keeping trim is everything to the 1.74m, 57kg Bell. "Whether or not you're in the best shape, if you act like you look good, and you're confident, that's really beautiful. I try to remember that," she adds, grinning, "when I wish my stomach was flatter."


First appeared 1st February, 2000