Keira Knightley Works Out...Sort Of

By , SparkPeople Blogger
Actress Keira Knightley's slender figure has gotten a lot of attention by the media in recent years, even rousing speculations of an eating disorder (which Knightley has denied).

She recently appeared on the "Late Show with David Letterman," where he asked about her fitness routine. Here are the highlights.

You look like you're tremendously fit. What do you do? Do you work out in your free time?

"Um…no…I try, I do try. I did hire a personal trainer which was quite good and she sort of cracked a whip and shouted at me a lot and made me do it, but I didn't really like it. I don't like pain. And I do find that working out is quite painful. I did actually join a gym, sort of about a year ago, it's was a really nice, really posh gym and I just go and I sort of watch everybody and they'd be slugging away, and I'd watch them and just think No… I'll just sit here. And they had lovely water. They had water will all this sort of um…it had like cucumber cut up into it. So I sat there in my workout gear and just sort of drank the water and watched everybody else working out. And then thought, well that's quite an expensive way to drink water with stuff in it. "

I'm interested in a couple of things. You joined a gym. What was your objective? Because you look like you're in tremendous physical condition. When you decided to join the gym, it was because "I want to…?"

"It was more that my flat is at the top of a building without a lift and I was finding it quite difficult to get up the stairs."


"Yeah, it was getting though. It was that kind of unfit."

That doesn't seem quite right. Are you in better shape now?

"I can now get up the stairs. Yes, I'm fine."

So what did you do to get yourself in shape?

"I don't know, I sort of went on a cross trainer for a bit. That was it, actually. I went on a cross trainer and I had somebody yelling at me and telling me to squat."

You can see the interview below (the topic turns to fitness at about 3:05).

I think this is interesting for a few reasons that I'd like to bring up for discussion.

First, this shows the idea that someone can appear to be fit, thin, toned or healthy (by society's standards at least), but not really be in good shape. Looking fit and being fit are two very different things. The inverse is also true: You can look unfit or overweight and still be in great physical condition. Even though Knightley is thin, which many people equate with "healthy," she had trouble climbing several flights of stairs. Does it surprise you that someone who looks like Knightley was self-described as "unfit?"

Secondly, fitness is an important to stay healthy, regardless of how you look. Working out should not be thought of as a means to an end. I think Letterman's question ("You joined a gym. What was your objective? Because you look like you're in tremendous physical condition.") is an example of what many people think: that if you're already thin or toned, you don't need to work out. That couldn't be further from the truth, though. And I think her reasoning for exercising (to be in shape for daily life in general) is a good one—and only further proves this point.

Click here to to redeem your SparkPoints
  You will earn 5 SparkPoints
See more: fitness celebrity tv

Comments is truly amazing how some people are able to eat whatever they want, never needing to exercise... and then there are people who can just LOOK at food and put on 10 pounds unless they exercise like a fiend!
3/27/18 Report
LOL - this interview sounds like several conversations I had when I was in my 20s. I even had someone ask me if I was anorexic and others wanted to know why I was thinking of joining a gym. Yea, I could eat whatever I wanted, but lots of stairs - no way. Walk a couple miles - no way. Lift something heavy - no way. Now I have a 72 lb daughter in a wheelchair and people say 'oh, you get all the exercise dealing with her' WRONG! I just hurt my back or throw out a hip dealing with her (just ask my Orthopedic!). Yeah, my arms stay strong (lifting 72 lbs) but the rest of me breaks down when I'm not exercising and lifting weights. - Gotta get back to it! Report
Interesting. I bet though if you polled people and asked if they'd rather be thin and unfit like Ms. Knightly, or fat and fit--most would pick thin and unfit. I'd love it if I were wrong though. Report
Why when I click on the "Get you Spark Points" it does not go anywhere? It does not work. Report
I'm really rather shocked in some respects and not in others. If someone has trouble with stairs with such a slim build, then something is definitely wrong, be it anorexia, metabolic or blood disorder, or some other problem. What doesn't surprise me is the activity she describes at the gym. I've seen so many people start coming to the gym in my six months of fitness who don't seem to get it. They're doing weight machines at such a low level, they might as well not bother. They go to the gym to be seen to be going to the gym, rather than to try to become a fitter person. These people usually drop out fast. Report
Hate to admit it to myself now, but I was just like this before. In high school, all I wanted to do was get up to 110 pounds so I could donate blood. I ate junk food constantly and tons of pop. I would get ice cream and nutty bars usually for lunch. Whatever my mom made for dinner (which was always pretty healthy). Then I'd pig out on deserts all night. All that changed when I went to college though and had a diet of pop tarts and McDonalds. Now I wish I could go back to that thin figure, but I also want to be healthy. I never worked out back then either.

It's really sad but most people just see thin as perfection and the ultimate end result. When I won't eat tons of sweets or go out to drink, everyone always asks why. And when I tell them I'm on a diet or trying to be healthy, they always tell me that I look great so I shouldn't have to do that. They don't understand that you have to continue to eat well and exercise to stay fit and healthy. If I don't, my weight will go right back up and I will have no energy at all.

Someday I hope we will have fit and healthy people of all shapes and sizes as role models (especially for children) instead of dangerously thin people who flaunt their unhealthiness. Report
She may be a terrific actress (many airheads are), but at 24 she should be able to take the steps two at a time, most of the time. She should have tried the stair climbing machine (the rotating stairs, not the Stairmaster) at the gym to which she used to belong. It helps quite a bit with walking stairs in every day life. Maybe she thought was watching some kind of performance art (the other members didn't realize they were the performers).

It's certainly true – youth is wasted on the young. Report
I was taking 8-10 aerobics classes a week (kickboxing, spinning, step, dance, pilates and yoga), lifting weights 3-4 times a week and did more cardio 3-4 hours a week, and I was still bigger than the average woman. My (ex)friend told me she was amazed that I had such great endurance since my body didn't even look like I worked out at all.

Comments like that (and there were many) is why she isn't my friend anymore. Report
The video clip didn't I went to YouTube and searched for - Keira Knightley at "Late Show with David Letterman"

At least she is a FANTASTIC actress!!!! Report
Yes, I think David L is the whimp for falling prey to Holly-think. It begs the question then, WHO exactly wants their women all skinny with bones and sinewy muscles visible from a block away? PEOPLE MAGAZINE? FHM? Men? Straight men? Women? Hollywood is truly messed up. Those with sense leave it behind at some point in favor of normal living and thinking. Report
A coworker of mine is like that. She is tall, slender, and lookes very toned. She looks good in anything she ever puts on and I used to be jelous of that fact. However, she eats the most unheakthiest stuff, smokes, and does not work out.
After year of knowing her I see that it is, for a fact, much better to be healthy and possibly not looking as fit than being skinny and wasting your health away. Report
Wow.. I really thought she was someone who'd be into running or walking.. or at least climbing stairs to get to her apartment. Report
MARYONE quoted Kiera as saying, of herself, that she is "twice the size, height and everything else, of most of the girls who are going in to see the director for a part." She is 5'7" -- and she seems to be insecure about this. As it happens, I had an interesting experience yesterday with regard to perceptions of size relative to height. I am also 5'7". I was in a group of friends who had gathered to chat after a meeting, and I was suddenly aware that I was taller, by 4 to 6 inches, than every other person in the group. Momentarily, I too felt "big" (not fat but definitely large). It was an odd feeling. Report
Speaking of people who look unfit but are quite fit, my brother is that way. The boy is HUGE and people mistakenly take him for just fat. However, he can lift 200 pounds on command, sometimes more. He strength trains 3 or 4 times a week, and while he still doesn't eat completely well, he does his best. He's not gluttonous, he's in better shape than I am. I'm jealous :). Report
The fact that she doesnt work out regularly or that she did not have the strength or endurance to climb several flights of stairs should not surprise anyone in 2008. There are millions of people in this world who are small and toned without exercise or dieting because of metabolism or genetics. We all know at least one. A slim toned figure does not equal being in shape or healthy. As for the stars, well I dont think any of us should compare ourselves or aspire to look like them for various reasons. They have the monetary means to buy the body they want, hire personal trainers, hire personal chefs, join gyms that you and i can only dream of, and try the latest diet fads on the markets today.

I aspire to get in shape and to look good. Its hard work and will take the rest of my life and I'm fine with that. I will never look like Keira or Halle, but I will look like me and be proud of it. Report
No, it's not surprising that someone like her would describe herself as unfit, b/c I would be one of those people. I started working out and weight training about a year ago and am in much better condition now, for many reasons. Relieving stress, more energy, feeling good and looking good. Report
What is important in much of Hollywood AND ALL of the modeling industry is "look", young look. A pretty face paramount for women. Replace her face with an older one, or an unspectacular common face and then we have a person like many described in this blog who is the out of shape, or physically struggling thin person. I know a married friend who is size 0, and mightily trying to get to a size 1 or 2. She is in pain from a severe nerve problem but guess what? She has the "thin is in" figure so many envy. Report
I agree with Crotty who said she was tired of hearing about celebrities weight loss issues. It is rather demoralizing.

Also... No, not surprised a bit to hear how unfit a thin person can be. This is exactly why employers who want to punish obese people with fines is nothing but rediculous. Weight is only ONE measure of health. There are a lot of unfit people who smoke, drink, etc... who I could out exercise. Report
I think she's adorable and beautiful and gorgeous and I would die to look like her!!! I think you're all just jealous that you don't look like that! Report
Letterman is being sarcastic. She is constantly being criticized for being too thin, and his question about her "fitness" is a reference to that.

Her answer, however, is revealing. She obviously is proud of her lack of a fitness regimen. She is proud of her inability to get up the stairs. That girl has problems. Report
I definitely get this... my good friends are "look" like they're in fabulous shape. however, when we get to the gym i can often out run them! part me of is glad i can, part of me wishes i could just look like i'm in shape too! lol... Report
This is both depressing and disappointing. Report
What a wimp. I was hoping there would have been an upnote somehow like she was going to say that she continues to work on the cross trainer and now feels good about it or SOMETHING. And David Letterman is just being like a lot of men...they equate how many bones are sticking out with being "fit" rather than just being "thin" and the two are very different things. My DH thinks like that and I'm over letting it frustrate me. It's just a warped way of thinking. I liked Turbonut's quote, "Comparison is the thief of joy." Precisely! Report
Thanks for this post! It's good to know the difference between your physical appearance and your physical fitness. Although I haven't reached my goals (pertaining to my physical appearance and weight), I know that over the past few months my fitness overall has change in terms of stamina, endurance, and just like the actress (not getting winded from climbing stairs). Report
I think Keira Knightley is pretty, but I find it hard to believe anyone would say "you look like you're tremendously fit" about her. I equate fit with healthy, which to me means having at least a little body fat and some muscles, not just skin and bones like Keira and so many other celebs. I think Kelly Ripa and Jada Pinkett Smith have much more enviable figures because they're slim, but still curvy with lean muscles; they look healthy and energetic, not anemic and malnourished. Report
I liked this blog. I think it shows no matter who you are, at some point, you compare yourself to others. Honestly, I could never admit that I paid for a gym membership and only sat and drank water. I think I might have left it at: Yes, I do have a membership. Report
I think she was just being evasive and liked getting attention. She is so thin she is not attractive. Sleeping with her would be like "sleeping with a bag of bones". Report
Does it surprise you that someone who looks like Knightley was self-described as "unfit?" Not at all, it seems most people STILL think healthy is not what matters being thin and looking like the image on the screen or in a magazine is all that seems to matter (not real and airbrushed) This young actress is compelled to be unhealthy yet most see it as her job to be this way and have no empathy for her, she is pressured to be that way in her chosen field. Society dictates for the most part how an actress and/or model is suppose to look if they want to work. If we watched/buy/praise the people who seemed more healthy then the world would have to look at the issue in a different way. Hilary Swank is someone I would think as healthy but in reality who knows. People constantly are telling her and many young and older actors/models to stay as thin as possible for the camera, most are on the verge or are underweight weight for there age and size and some refuse to be subjected to that and still get work. To me, I actually think being a few pounds above the ideal weight for most height and age by average (never will be 100% accurate) standards are best for most people but my point is finding your healthiest body is what's important and stop comparing yourself to anyone in a movie or magazine because THAT is not healthy or real. Thin does not always mean unhealthy and neither does having extra weight. Being underweight and/or obese have very high risks on both sides no matter how people want and/or tend to spin it. Being active (cardio/strength training) and eating healthy is the best option to avoid health risks for everyone. People also seem to forget the importance of exercise for your bones. It is not suppose to be painful and worries me that the young actress doesn't seem to be too concerned about why it's so painful, but then maybe she is just trying to keep her private life private. Report
Someone said "scary thin." I think that is the perfect descritpion of kiera. She looks liek a stick-figure. Also, to be she has a bit of a horsey face...long jaws and a narrow chin...that could do with some filling out.

Also, she mentioned that she found working out was "quite painful". Doesn't an eating disorder open you up to a whole host of aches and pains simply because your body lacks the nutrition to repair itself?

That said, at 5'6" tall, 100 pounds and a size 2 or smaller, my 40+-year-old sister-in-law is "scary thin" but she IS fit. She eats well and exercises, but she has a very, very high metabolism and struggles to put on weight. She has a protein drink every morning, and even with that, it took her months to gain 6 pounds. Then she got the flu and lost it all and then some in a week. She's been to the doctor and had lots of tests done, but they tell her there is nothing wrong (like a thyroid condition or anything like that). She just has the metabolism of a hummingbird.

My college roommate was also very slim. She was 5'8" tall, 115 pounds, and ate five to six full sit-down meals a day. In spite of some painful joint problems that were never actually fully diagnosed, she was also very athletic, playing IM soft-ball and occasionally volleyball. After college, she didn't play sports anymore, but she was still thin until she hit thirty and her weight ballooned to 180. She started running and got down to about 150, which is healthy, but not what she's used to. Surprisingly, when she gained weight, her aches and pains went away, but now she has a job where she is on her feet a lot and has developed plantar fasciitis (inflammation of the connective tissues in the sole of the foot) so she can't run anymore and is struggling to maintain her healthy weight.

Another friend from college had been a competitive diver in high school. Just five feet tall and with the supposedly ideal 36-24-36 figure when I met her, she was a borderline anorexic because her diving coach had pressured her to stay thin for competition (less splash) when her body was trying to develop it's womanly curves. She has thoracic outlet syndrome and lower back and neck issues which are all very painful and is causing progressive nerve damage. Her only exercise is physical therapy. But she also just had her second child, a healthy baby girl, and is almost back to her pre-first-pregnancy weight (from nearly 5 years ago).

I weighed over 200 pounds when I first met these two women and have gained more than 100 pounds in the 20 years since then, yet I have fewer medical problems than either of them. I wouldn't call myself "fit" by any stretch of the imagination, but it just goes to show yet again that good health and "thinness" really have nothing to do with each other. Report
isn't she a smoker? I would think that's why she was struggling with the stairs. Report
I just came accross an article about her where she said recently and I quote : "Weight is a big issue in Hollywood because I'm twice the size, height and everything else, of most of the girls who are going in to see the director for a part. When you realize that I am, at my size, one of the largest actresses there, you start to think, 'I don't think it'd be healthy for me to stay here much longer."

I mean.... WHAT? twice the size? at about 95 pounds? This girl is seriously in denial... Report
When my husband did an Ironman (his first triathlon ever :)) I was pleasantly surprised at the number of "bigger" people who also were participating. Some looked incredibly fit, but quite alot looked just average to large, not really even athletic.
It was great to see that and really was inspiring that really being fit is attainable for normal people.

No matter how thin you are, you should still work out!!! Sitting at the gym sipping cucumber water? Seriously?? Report
When I started working out I weighed over 250 pounds. I started either running and riding my bike daily at 230 and added weight training around the 180 mark. Although it took some time to shed the weight I was fit and healthy while still being overweight. At 5'4" and 150 some would still consider me overweight but I feel wonderful and many people have said I look great. A few people have even said they hope I'm not going to try to lose more because I would be too thin.

When I was in high school I starved myself down to 115 pounds. I ate about 1000 calories a day and, although I was thin, I felt weak and lacking in energy. When I went to college and found it difficult to eat so little I started purging and thus began decades of a painful relationship with food.

Although I will always have issues with food I feel that I have a healthier attitude toward it now than I have had for all of my adult life. Report
she doesn't look healthy to me. She is way too thin, very scrawny looking. That is not healthy at all. Where's the muscle? Where's the healthy complexion? Report
It's good to know it's not just the general population suffering from 'thin-fat' :) Report
Dave Letterman is adorable, and he RUNS and is fit. He had heart surgery and he KNOWS he has to take care of himself. Report
Amen to that! Report
Frankly, I am tired of hearing about stars who are nothing but a bag of bones and implants extolling on their exercise routine. Report
Letterman himslf is an example. I don't watch but he looks like he'd be in good shape and I might be wrong but I think I remember someone talking about him running everyday or something, and he had a heart attack didn't he? He had to have bypass surgery. Report
Where are the pictures of her abs that everyone is talking about? I don't see them but either way They could have been airbrushed into the picture. Also, if the abdominal muscles are that visible in a female body it could just be a complete lack of fatty tissue which could indeed point to an eating disorder instead of a healthy workout routine. Report
Amazing that people still think that thin equals fitness. Report
Slightly larger doesn't mean unfit eather. I have trained as a dancer since I was 7 and now even though i just had a baby 4 months ago i can still do more exersize than most of my friends. I was running around at 7 months preagnant. but I am a slightly larger person, and sometimes people looked shocked when i tell them i dance. Report
She is way too thin, and apparently lazy. I believe she does have an eating disorder, maybe slight but she is mostly skin stretched over bones. Must be nice to join the gym to sit and drink cucumber water. Report
I have a co-worker who is terribly thin. She eats junk food. The curvier women are jealous of her, and complain that she can eat whatever she wants and stay thin. But I'll bet she's as unhappy with her appearance - and as unhealthy - as any of them, if not more so. Report
When we were stationed in England there was a lady that was teaching exercise classes. She was overweight but she could do things that the so-called thin and healthy people could not do. She was fit and could stretch like you would not believe. So you can be fit and overweight and also be thin and unhealthy. Report
Don't assume - and don't we all do that to some point. We assume because someone is thin they are in great shape. I have friends that look fantastic and are are way out of shape, heck I am 150 pounds pounds overweight and can walk farther than them and climb more stairs. They tell me not to work out so much, that it make them feel guilty. I smile and tell them to join me in a walk. Report
Sho & to many others who have brought this up... good call. I have to say I agree 100% when this young woman reaches the age of 25, life will come at her FAST & so will the pounds. Let me share a little story.
Up untill I turned the ripe young age of 25, I was a WHOOPING 98 pounds, soaking wet. I tried to GAIN weight by any & all means, doing all sorts of gross things like eating banana splits at midnight then going right to bed... but nothing worked. And sadly, I looked just like Keira in the photo posted in comment 10. Yep, I was thin & looked "fit". Had great abs (gawd I miss those abs) & people thought I was sick. No eating disorder, cripes, I loved food... still do, didn't work out, just that's how my body was.
Then 25 came & thats when the pounds started to stick. It's been down hill ever since! But was I healthy? No... probably not even a little bit, but I looked pretty good & that was where the focus was because no one cared if I didn't FEEL great, so I didn't care. When you are young, single & your body is your money maker, you worry about how it looks, not how it feels. I would venture to say, this poor young girl had such a hard time with those steps because she is not fit at all.
Am I surprised she admits this? No, not at all. I am sure she knows it, just like I did & when age catches up with her, she'll give that personal trainer another call :) Report
1st Keira Knightley is by far my favorite actress and I love all the movies she is in.

I am however a bit disappointed that she does not make fitness a way of life. It’s like a slap in the face to all of us working our booties off trying to look like her and all she has to do is sit and be thin. :-/

I know its her body and her life, but just think how amazing she would look if she started doing some light weight training!
I don't think of Kiera Knightly as "fit"........while she may be thin, I think of it as scary thin. And I don't think she is naturally that thin, seeing as when she started out she had weight on her and I personally believed she was much prettier. I believe the pressures of Hollywood have gotten to her and a reason why she may not be able to climb her stairs is because of inadequate nutrition, but that's just a guess. Report