Dakota Johnson Did This Instagram-Famous Workout To Prepare For Madame Web

She put in the work.

Jessica Kourkounis
Dakota Johnson Madame Web film

We’ve all heard myths and legends of the grueling workout routines celebrities endured in preparation for superhero roles. Gal Gadot famously gained 17 pounds of muscle through persistent strength training for her role as Wonder Woman. Brie Larson hit the gym five days a week for nine months, doing a mix of bodyweight exercises like pushups, chin-ups and deadlifts to become Captain Marvel. With the release of Madame Web, fans of the film’s lead Dakota Johnson are likely all wondering how she prepared for her action-packed role. Well, wonder no more.

TZR caught up with renowned trainer and founder of Sculpt Society Megan Roup who worked with Johnson in-person and virtually as she transformed into Cassandra Webb, the paramedic-turned-vigilante with clairvoyant abilities. This movie prep gig marked a first for Roup, who typically works with celebrities off-duty and most recently worked with Chanel on the 2023/2024 Cruise presentation as movement director. In taking on the project, the fitness pro says the plan of attack was to build on Johnson’s already-established strong fitness foundation.

“She's already so active, so she was in great shape [when we started],” explains Roup. “I would say her concentration was to build stamina and to build even more strength for the role, because her days on set are really long.” The trainer also explains that Johnson entered into their partnership as an existing fan and active member of The Sculpt Society, which works the body from head to toe with dance-cardio routines and low-impact exercises that target the arms, booty, and core. This came as a pleasant surprise to Roup when she was approached by Johnson’s team to work with her for the film.

Columbia Pictures

“During Covid was when she discovered The Sculpt Society,” says Roup. “She loved, I think, the mental health benefits of an uplifting program like this. We're very conscious of the types of words we use in our classes, and it's always about feeling good. And then I think she also loved the physical results that she saw from doing the workout consistently. So, for the movie, she wanted to get back into that consistent routine.”

Before heading to the East Coast to film, Johnson and Roup met in person in LA a few days a week for 45-minute class, which entailed a dance cardio warmup, followed by full-body sculpting. “So that flow of the class is arms with three-pound hand weights,” explains Roup. “We go back into dance cardio [still] with three-pound hand weights. We do standing legs. Sometimes I'll use sliders — I really love a slider in a sitting leg section. It really causes a little instability in a very functional exercise and it's just a little more challenging. And then we will go into plank abs, again, sometimes using a slider, sometimes using a band or a ball there. Then we would go into two glute-focused combinations wearing an ankle weight. [...] And then we end with dance cardio.” On days they didn’t meet, Roup would send Johnson video workouts to do on the studio’s app.

While 45 minutes may not seem like enough time to get in a good sweat sesh, Roup says she designed The Sculpt Society class format to be short but impactful. “I really love the 45-minute full body style, because it really sprinkles in that dance cardio,” she says. “It's just a nice way to warm things up, but your heart rate is up and then you're going into low-impact and functional exercises. Your heart rate continues to stay up. So it's a very efficient 45 minutes that really builds strength, it builds endurance, and those are all things that [Johnson] was really looking to achieve.”

Once the actor got to set, Roup says she sent her a schedule of various exercise options to work into the day, depending on what she had time for. “Some days she would have a 17-hour day, so each day I would give her an option of a 45-minute video to do on The Sculpt Society app, a 30-minute video, and then a 20-minute video,” says Roup. “So she could kind of pick and choose depending on her energy level, the time she could carve out, and how she was feeling.”

Jose Perez/Bauer-Griffin/Getty Images

Johnson’s fitness plan also made room for days off, something Roup stresses in her work across the board. “I'm a big advocate of a rest day, so minimum one rest day a week,” she says. “But I think when she was prepping, I would say, she worked out between five and six days a week.”

If you want to test drive Johnson’s Madame Web fitness routine for yourself, the 45-minute dance cardio sessions are available on The Sculpt Society app. Ability to see the future is, unfortunately, not included.