Hollywood Stuntwoman Heidi Moneymaker Talks Work, Fitness and XPT
We sat down with Heidi Moneymaker, XPT advocate and stunt actress, to talk about the rigors of her work and her approach for staying healthy and fit.
XPT: Hi Heidi! Give us a brief introduction about who you are and some background on your XPT success story.
HM: My name is Heidi Moneymaker and I have been an athlete my whole life. I was a very serious gymnast from the age of 5 until I retired at the age of 22 and began my stunt career. I have been a stunt woman and actress for over 16 years and have been the stunt double for Scarlett Johansson since 2009.
Having been an athlete and stunt performer for most of my life has definitely taken a bit of a toll on me physically. Staying in shape and injury free is my constant focus. I am always looking for effective modes of body recovery and low impact training to supplement my demanding career, which is how I found XPT.
XPT: Who is your favorite actress you’ve doubled for and what’s your favorite project you’ve worked on? Why?
HM: I have been very lucky to work with some of the most talented and wonderful actresses in Hollywood. It’s hard to pick a favorite, but I will say that doubling Scarlett Johansson and helping to create the Black Widow character has been pretty amazing. She is as down to earth as she is beautiful and has given me a lot of freedom to help create the action style of the character.
XPT: Can you talk about the importance of a healthy fitness lifestyle in the profession of stunt acting?
HM: My job is demanding, challenging, and usually dangerous. Being physically and emotionally fit is just the beginning. We generally work anywhere from 8-14-hour days. I am fighting, flipping, falling, getting hit by things, and basically performing like a professional athlete, but often without some of the necessities that go along with performing at your best.
For example, often, there is not time for a proper warm up before performing a fight scene. Or along with kicking, punching, and flipping, I’m also getting slammed by some object and blasted into a wall over and over. Not only do I need to be physically fit to perform for hours at a time at a very high level, I need to be mentally strong as well.
Eating a healthy diet, getting plenty of sleep and being hydrated are three things I cannot avoid if I want to make it through my days!
XPT: What would you say was the most physically demanding project you’ve worked on to date? How did your fitness play a role in preparing for it?
HM: It’s hard to pick one film—they’re all demanding in their own way! However, in 2009, I did Iron Man 2 and Sucker Punch back-to-back, which meant I worked for 13 months straight. That was the most physically demanding year I’ve ever had.
XPT: How did you get introduced to and involved in XPT?
HM: I found XPT online and read a few XPT reviews while looking for new ways of low-impact or rehab training. It was a big bonus that the next XPT experience was in Kauai!
XPT: Speaking of Kauai, you recently attended an XPT Experience there. Can you recall any key takeaways or lessons from Gabby, Laird, PJ and the gang you’d like to share that really resonated with you?
HM: The Kauai experience was pretty amazing. The ice bath was something I really enjoyed mentally and physically conquering. I do believe in the benefits of the ice-sauna treatment and I believe it will help me in my career. For example, I have turned down jobs in the past that involve extreme cold because I can’t control my body temperature and get too cold too fast causing a pause in filming.
XPT: How have you applied what you’ve learned from XPT into your work?
HM: I have always had an issue breathing properly while doing high intensity training. I think the breathwork we did had the biggest impact on me and has helped me increase my endurance.
XPT: Like you said, your body takes a beating after a long day of stunt work. Can you touch on the importance of recovery in your profession and how you’ve integrated XPT specific recovery methods into your routine?
HM: Recovery is one of the most important things in my line of work. One thing I have really benefit from is cool-down breathwork. That’s something new for me and I find I feel much better overall using this technique after training.
XPT: You’re trained in several different fighting styles, as well as gymnastics and many other forms of fitness. How have you found XPT practices to interweave into all forms of these fitness?
HM: As I said, I have really benefited from the breathing techniques. But, I’ve also integrated some pool training with weights into my routine on days when my body feels it can’t handle high impact practices.
XPT: How do you plan on incorporating XPT principals in your future work?
HM: Part of my job is to fight train my actors and actresses. I am constantly pushing them to their limits. Recovery and longevity is key for them and is one of the reasons I attended the XPT Experience. I will definitely be incorporating some of these practices into the actor training regimen.
XPT: Speaking of future work, what’s up next for you or what should we be on the lookout for?
HM: I am working here in town on a few different projects, although, I’m not sure if I’m able to say which. However, it’s very likely you’ll see me in Avengers 4!