Cindy Bruna’s Surprisingly Easy, No-Nonsense Guide to Working Out


It may come as a surprise, but Victoria’s Secret model and all-around glamazon Cindy Bruna wasn’t always an exercise enthusiast. In fact, she never did so much as a push-up until four years ago. Instead, the self-professed former “skinny fat girl” relied on her genetics (a winning mixture of Congolese and Italian) to keep her sample-sized. Growing up in the South of France, Bruna use to believe that working out is only for those who want want to lose weight.

It wasn’t until she got the call from lingerie giant Victoria’s Secret in 2013 that her outlook started to change. “I was just doing a few squats and crunches at home here and there,” she laughs, “I had no idea how to work out. If any move made me feel even the tiniest bit sore, I would quit doing it immediately.” It wasn’t until after her first VS runway show wrapped that Bruna decided to commit to making over her fitness routine entirely. “Going into the second year, I told myself to get my shit together and really kill it,” she recalls. “I wanted to feel good and look hot. I began to understand that just because I’m naturally skinny, doesn’t mean I’m the good kind of skinny. It clicked that if I ate better and worked out consistently, maybe I could actually give myself more shape.”

Cindy didn’t have to search too far for a personal trainer who understood her needs. She tapped her boyfriend, certified P.T. and nutritionist, Biancone Morgan for the job. “The best part is that I don’t have to pay him and the worst is that he kicks my ass constantly and never lets me slack off,” she says. Together, the couple created a no fuss, no frills routine to get Cindy looking and feeling stronger and sexier than ever. Built around a core of resistance training using her own body weight, her workout requires little to no equipment and can be done in a gym or a hotel room, anywhere in the world. A condensed version of it can even be done in the roomy carriage of a long-haul airplane. “No matter how hard I try to find one, there’s never an excuse not to workout,” she says.

Three years and thousands of lunges later, Cindy has her fitness routine down pat—and she rarely skips one. Here, she shares all of her secrets in the most-approachable top model-approved guide we’ve yet to come across.


“Growing up, I hated exercising. I was tall and skinny—and I didn’t see the point. Even when I became a model, I didn’t do anything to stay in shape. Victoria’s Secret changed all of that. The brand is as much about fitness and being confident in your own skin as it is about sexy lingerie, so it motivated me to become the best and most healthy version of myself. During the first year [with Victoria’s Secret], I had no clue what I was doing, but come the second, I got focused and really killed it in the gym.”


“A lot of models hate their bodies growing up. They feel abnormal because they’re too tall and lanky. I was no different and it was hard for me because I’m black too. In many ways I had a perfect childhood, but being a teenager in the South of France was tough because I was one of the only black girls in my high school. When I first became a model I was shy and uncomfortable with myself. I didn’t know how to pose. My agency sent me to acting classes to help build my confidence. That helped, but what really made me feel great was exercising consistently. Building muscle tone made me feel sexy while naked and proud to be a tall, black woman.”


“I’ve never had any pressure from my agency or casting directors to work out or change any aspect of how I look. I exercise for myself and myself alone. At first, I was just doing squats at home, but then Biancone helped me get into real regimen. Now I work out three to four times a week for an hour each time. Before the VS Show this year, I amped up my workouts more than normal and was in the gym every day.”


“I don’t really like taking classes, so I focus on exercises that I can do on my own, or easily, using different materials in even the most basically-equipped gym. I want to look toned, not ripped, so I mainly do simple things like planks, push-ups, box squats, and crunches on a medicine ball with small weights in high repetitions. Some days, I’ll focus on a specific body part, like my legs. My favorite area to workout is my butt because I can see a difference right away.”


“I am not a runner. In fact, I hate it. You will never catch me running a marathon or on a treadmill. Because of that, we find other ways to incorporate cardio into my routine, like jumping jacks or the battle ropes.”


“I’m French and I love to eat. My biggest weakness is candy, but I can also devour huge amounts of burgers, cheese, and bread. Because I’m naturally skinny, I never used to care about restricting what I ate. But as I got fitter, I started understanding how food made me feel and how it could help or hinder my progress in the gym. I knew I had to start feeding my body good-quality fuel, so I cleaned up my diet. I still have shit days, but it’s all about balance.”


“I travel all the time, so it can be hard to keep a strict food routine. That being said, I hate missing a meal. For breakfast I love oatmeal with almond milk or some eggs with a side of toast and marmalade. For lunch and dinner I like the same thing: brown rice or quinoa with fish, olive oil, and lots of vegetables.”


“I’m a reformed sugar addict. I could eat candy all day, but as soon as I understood how bad it is for our bodies, I had to stop eating it. I quit sugar completely for two whole months in order to break my cycle—and it was brutal. Now, I can occasionally have a tiny bit, but I still try to avoid it as much as possible.”


“Too many people, women in particular, carry a lot of guilt around food. If I work out, I don’t feel bad about myself when I overindulge, but I also don’t use food as a reward either. My gift to myself is taking a really long shower or laying in my bed all day instead. Being as lazy as possible—that’s my ultimate treat.”


“Any model will tell you that we spend half of our lives on planes, so it’s essential to develop an arsenal of tips to stay fit and fight jet-lag. I always eat before I board the plane, pack lots of nuts in my carry-on as a snack, and walk and around and stretch a lot during the flight. When I land, I force myself to work out. It’s awful to begin with, but just 30 minutes of exercise alone in your hotel room is enough to snap you out of jet-lag.”


“I am obsessed with Gisele, Doutzen Kroes, and Adriana Lima. All of them have kids and are incredible mothers. The fact that they’ve gone through childbirth and look how they do amazes me. Women’s bodies are capable of such greatness and we should never forget that.”


“When I first started working out, I could barely last 10 minutes—everything hurt. Aiming for an hour’s workout was overwhelming, so I set myself a target of just 20 minutes a day. Everyone can spare 20 minutes. From there, you can work up to an hour; you don’t have to kill yourself. Working smart for 20 minutes is better than half-assing it for 60.”


“Sometimes travel and life gets in the way. Other times, you just don’t feel like working out period. But remember: The longer you leave it, the harder it will be, so try and force yourself back into your routine as soon as you can. It will be painful, but you’ll feel better afterwards.”


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