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5 Secrets of Hayley Atwell's Mission: Impossible Training

Five ways Hayley Atwell prepped for her role in Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One.
FACT CHECKED BY Jeremy Horowitz

Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One has hit theaters, and its heart-pounding action and relentless suspense have made it the best-reviewed of the franchise so far. Once again, the fate of the world hangs in the balance as Ethan Hunt, portrayed by the indomitable Tom Cruise, embarks on a perilous mission to thwart a menacing new villain—in this case, AI—that poses a grave threat to humanity. However, this time he's not alone in his quest. Joining forces with Cruise is the talented British actress Hayley Atwell, who breathes life into the character of Grace, a skilled pickpocket entangled in the high-stakes mission.

To prepare for her role in this latest installment of the adrenaline-fueled franchise, Atwell devoted herself to rigorous training and physical conditioning. With unwavering determination, she honed her skills and sculpted her physique, leaving no stone unturned in her quest for perfection. (It should be second nature by now; she did play Agent Carter in the Marvel universe, after all.) Here, we delve into the five key aspects of Atwell's training regimen for Mission: Impossible —Dead Reckoning Part One, while seeking the insights of experts who shed light on the effectiveness of her approach.

She Starts the Day Off With a Ginger Shot

Ginger shot

To kick start her day, Atwood does a ginger shot, but she also makes her team do one as well, which you can see in a recent Instagram video. "Ginger shot to start off the day to aid digestion and clear out the sinuses," she said. 

What the Expert Says: "Ginger shots can help boost digestion, prevent bloating and nausea, and reduce inflammation throughout the body," Jesse Feder, RDN, CPT with My Crohns and Colitis Team, explains. "This can help digestive health and allow you to stay healthy and fit!"

She Does Pilates

woman doing supine arms Pilates exercise

If there's one thing you can count on in Mission Impossible movies, it's death-defying stunts. To get ready for the film, Atwood did a lot of Pilates and gave fans a behind-the-scenes look. She posted a video of her in action and wrote, "A glimpse of some of the training I do to prepare for stunts for @missionimpossible." 

What the Expert Says: "I love the all-encompassing benefits one can yield from partaking in Pilates," Jarrod Nobbe, a USAW National Coach says. "You get strength, stability, core, and mobility improvements when you practice pilates consistently. I even advocate for my athletes to perform one weekly pilates-based training day. It can be low intensity, allowing for an active recovery day, or you can push the intensity and challenge yourself with fantastic bodyweight movements." 

April Federico, a certified nutritionist, adds, "Pilates places a significant emphasis on developing a strong core, which includes the muscles in your abdomen, lower back, and pelvis. These muscles are essential for stability, posture, and overall body strength. With that said, pilates can improve your posture drastically. By regularly performing Pilates movements, you can develop lean muscle mass and improve overall muscle tone by using your body weight that's involved in these exercises."

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She Runs A Lot

close-up bottom of running shoe, two women running through field, concept of worst running shoes hurting your feet

To keep up with Tom Cruise, running is a must. In a conversation with Interview Magazine, she said she runs "30K a week" and commented on Cruise's awe-inspiring running abilities. "What I've noticed on set is it's not his speed that's the most impressive. He's studied the form, he's studied how to run. So when he's running, it feels like it's with every cell in his body, as if he's running towards the thing he wants to save and also running away from a bear."

What the Expert Says: Nobbe states, "Running is an excellent choice of exercise for multiple benefits. It allows you to increase your Zone 2 Heart Rate work, showing overall aerobic fitness improvements and a healthier cardiovascular system. Running allows you to get outside, breathe fresh air, and soak up the sun (on a good weather day). I always encourage clients and athletes to train outside or go for a run for the positive mental benefits nature brings to mind."

Feder adds, "Running is a wonderful cardiovascular exercise. It can help you burn off and keep off body fat and improve things such as blood pressure, cholesterol, and triglyceride levels. Additionally, running can improve bone density and joint health when done in moderation."

The Best Tips for Running for Weight Loss

She Eats Oysters

woman eating oysters

Atwood hasn't talked much about her diet, one thing we do know is she likes oysters, which are a good source of protein. On Instagram, she shared that one of her favorite things to have for brunch is oysters. 

What the Expert Says: "Like other forms of seafood, oysters are a source of lean protein," Destini Moody, RD, CSSD, LD, and sports dietitian says. "They are a surprisingly rich source of omega-3 fatty acids, a powerful antioxidant and essential nutrient that the body cannot make on its own. The biggest powerhouse, however, is the Vitamin B12 content. One serving contains more than twice the daily value and can help with energy levels, red blood cell formation, and making new cells."

She Eats Raw Dark Chocolate

Dark Chocolate

Although Atwood trained hard for MI 7, she also allowed herself to enjoy treats every now and then. After filming a tough train sequence, Cruise sent her a box of chocolate. "A beautiful box of raw dark chocolate arrived on set and I wolfed it down, and then we went again and I was faster, sharper, with a smile on my face," Atwood told Interview Magazine. 

What the Expert Says: "Raw dark chocolate is loaded with antioxidants and carries awesome amounts of fiber, giving raw dark chocolate great health characteristics," Moody says. "It contains numerous values of vitamins and minerals, along with antioxidants. The key, just like with many things, is to consume in moderation!" New York dietician Fiorella DiCarlo adds, "Dark chocolate is lower in sugar and fat than milk or white chocolates. In this way, it does not increase blood sugar levels in the way the other chocolates do!  It also contains minerals like iron, magnesium, and zinc which support the immune system. The slightly bitter taste tends to lend to higher satiety and the ability to stick to moderate portions."

Heather Newgen
Heather Newgen has two decades of experience reporting and writing about health, fitness, entertainment and travel. Heather currently freelances for several publications. Read more about Heather