“Fighting With My Family,” starring Florence Pugh as “Paige WWE” and Jack Lowden as “Zac Zodiac Bevis,” follows the true story of a family of wrestlers as Paige tries out for the WWE.
To look and play the part of a wrestler, Pugh and Lowden were given six weeks to get in fighting shape. Their training method: CrossFit.
Pugh took on a program that was specifically modified for her abilities and goals while on set. With the time crunch, efficiency was essential for each movement and workout.
“The main toss with Florence was to take her from her regular role as an actor to a WWE wrestler,” trainer James Shields says. “The alarm bell started ringing, and I hadn’t met Florence at this point, so I wasn’t sure who was going to be coming through the door … what state she would be in physically.”
Shields noticed Pugh’s role required a lot of getting up from the ground and therefore incorporated burpees and similar movements into her training. His goal was to focus on the movements first, fitness second, and let the aesthetics develop along the way.
Pugh says, “Being able to move and knowing where your body needs to sit is a very specific thing with CrossFit. … For me, the most interesting thing at the beginning was learning what’s a good position and what’s a bad position … . Obviously that is what wrestling is all about. You need to move the correct way in order to keep yourself safe and the person you’re wrestling safe.”
The first thing Pugh noticed after starting her training was how “solid and secure” CrossFit made her feel. She was more in tune with her body. The difficulty of the workouts also helped her mentally and physically prepare herself for her role as a wrestler.
“Those sessions in CrossFit are difficult. You do have to push yourself,” Pugh says. “And that’s an interesting thing to play with, especially in the role.”
For Lowden, the goal was to bulk up, so training was extremely specific. His trainer, Gerard Andrews (CF-L3) of CrossFit North London, focused his training on EMOM-style deadlifts and push presses. Andrews programmed every set with the perfect amount of rest to promote intensity.
“The first session was a complete baptism of fire,” Lowden says. “For the first week I couldn’t walk … but that’s essentially what it was for me: getting used to pain.”
What Lowden liked most was how members of the CrossFit community encouraged each other to try things they felt were impossible. He even tried movements he once felt he couldn’t do.
Lowden also noticed how much more energy he had since starting CrossFit. Acting can get tiring, but during the filming of “Fighting With My Family,” he felt he had higher energy levels.
CrossFit affected both actors in unexpected ways.
“What I never knew about CrossFit is it’s more of a way of life rather than just somebody who goes to the gym,” Lowden says.