Why Jordana Brewster Needed Physical Therapy After ‘Fast X’ Wrapped—and How She Still Honors Paul Walker

Updated: Jun. 16, 2023

The OG Fast & Furious star and mom of two boys told us: "I love that my story can help women."

Jordana Brewster is one of those faces you somehow instantly recognize—even if you’ve never seen any of the Fast & The Furious movies, where as Mia Toretto she’s shown off her action chops as one of the only original stars since the 2001 launch of the franchise.

Brewster is arguably just as courageous in real life. In recent years she’s been open health issues that were once considered taboo: In 2021, she wrote an essay for Glamour about overcoming an eating disorder, has spoken out about using a surrogate after struggling to conceive, and has spoken openly about her grief over her Fast & The Furious co-star Paul Walker, who died in 2013.

Now the 43-year-old mom of two stars in Fast X, the latest movie of the Fast & Furious franchise. Brewster spoke with The Healthy @Reader’s Digest about preparing for her physically intense role (that required physical therapy after filming!), what it’s like to be the mother of two young athletes, and speaking up about health topics women used to keep private.

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Jordana Brewster on family fitness

The Healthy @Readers Digest: You have two kids who take after their action star mom as athletes themselves. How important is it to teach your kids about staying active?

Jordana Brewster: Well, I get up at 5 a.m. every morning to work out because I love working out while they’re asleep, so I can get it done. But every once in a while, they wake up super early and then they do join in. I think it’s actually really important for boys to get all their energy out before they go to school. And even when they’re done with school, they still need to get their wiggles out.

My little guy, Rowan, does football, jiu jitsu, lacrosse, softball—and even after all those activities, he gets home, and he’s like, “Let’s throw a ball around the yard.” And I’m like, “Oh my gosh, how are you not exhausted?” Julian is a little more of the artsy one, but he also loves baseball and flag football.

The Healthy: Impressive that you get up at 5 a.m. before they’re awake.

Jordana Brewster: It’s the only way to do it.

The Healthy: Wow. You’ve partnered with Lysol’s Laundry Sanitizer, as the Lysol Lab is stopping at youth sporting events in seven cities this summer to teach parents how to #StrikeOutStink. Why was this partnership a natural fit?

Jordana Brewster: I always expected to have girls because I was the biggest girly-girl who always played Barbies as a kid. So when I had boys, I was like, “How am I going to handle this?” The sports and the sports team thing was a big shift for me. The stink that comes with playing sports and dealing with that, I realized I really needed to supercharge my routine. I found that is the one thing that takes the stink away. I love my boys, but they sweat so much, and they play so hard that it’s just essential to get the stink out. So it’s a very organic partnership.

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The Healthy: I went from being a germaphobe with my first kid to mellowing out a bit with my second son. How do you find a balance with teaching them about health and cleanliness and germs, while not going overboard?

Jordana Brewster: I think having them be a part of the chores is actually really important. So oftentimes I’m like, “Put that in the laundry basket, get that in the hamper, bring that to Mom so we can…” I don’t let them do the laundry because I’m a little bit of a control freak. But I think having them be in charge of their chores is a big deal. Then I also give them an allowance if they do their chores.

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Jordana Brewster on training for films

Jordana Brewster at "Fast X" PremiereFranco Origlia/Getty Images

The Healthy: Tell us about your role in Fast X, the latest Fast and Furious movie. Was there any specific physical training that you did for the film that’s not a part of your usual fitness routine?

Jordana Brewster: As I get older—I’m 43—I’m super into balance. I like working the muscles that are going to make me stronger and make me feel stronger, and I want to be able to run every single day. So I incorporate Pilates and strength training and lots of stretching.

But with fight training, it’s very different because you’re doing whatever’s going to look good for cameras. So I found that I was only working the right side of my body, kicking with my right leg, punching with my right arm. So by the time I got home, I was like, “Wait, why am I completely twisted?” So I had to do a lot of physical therapy for that, but that’s the difference between real life and then making stuff look really good on screen.

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Jordana Brewster on mental health and self-care

The Healthy: We talk a lot about mental health on the site, and you’ve spoken in the past about dealing with grief of your co-star and close friend, Paul Walker, and how the cast has continued to hold space for that. What did you find has helped you the most?

Jordana Brewster: I think what helps the most is not stifling your feelings or denying them in any way, and finding ways to honor him. I think today’s World Oceans Day, and the Paul Walker Foundation is launching [an initiative]. I just think in any way you can turn a massive negative into a positive by honoring him—I just want to keep his memory alive, so I do that in any way that I can.

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The Healthy: Acting and being a mother of two is a lot in itself. What does your self-care look like when you need to decompress? Is there one self-care routine that you refuse to skip?

Jordana Brewster: The self-care routine I refuse to skip is baths. I love taking baths. I love sleep, and meditation helps a lot. That helps to center me because I think as a mom you’re juggling, or you’re driving to sports events, you’re driving to school events, you’re just doing so much. So to be able to center and go, “OK, wait, how do I feel right now? Where’s my energy at?” I think checking in is really, really important. So I have to remind myself to do that daily. And also to model that for your kids is really important.

The Healthy: How long has meditation been a part of your life?

Jordana Brewster: It’s been about 15 years. Then once I had kids, to be perfectly honest, meditating twice a day for 20 minutes wasn’t sustainable. So now I do a shorter meditation. I do it for about seven minutes. And oftentimes I pull my kids into it. I’m like, “OK, we’re going to do this. Now we’re going to do a mindfulness meditation,” where I take them through breathing differently so they’re aware of their breathing. Because I find that kids can also get way more overwhelmed than kids have in the past because they’re exposed to so much now.

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Jordana Brewster’s healthy habits

Jordana Brewster at P.S. Arts "Express Yourself"Elyse Jankowski/Getty Images

The Healthy: Any skincare rituals you have that you do?

Jordana Brewster: My biggest skincare ritual is what my mom taught me a long, long time ago. She was like, “Never, ever go to bed with your makeup on.” And so I don’t. I’m really, really good about making sure my skin is clean.

The Healthy: What about nutrition? You’ve been outspoken about your relationship with food and how therapy helped. What’s been the response that you’ve received since then from women for speaking out, and what has continued to help you?

Jordana Brewster: I find that the more honest I am, and the more open I am, the more of an outpouring in response I get from my peers, which I really love. So I love that it resonates with women. I love that my story can help them in some way.

As a mom, I also try to model healthy eating and not being controlling, but I find that that can be really challenging. And I also have to remind myself, just because I have boys doesn’t mean that they’re not internalizing negative messaging around like, “Oh, don’t eat that because it’s bad.” I try not to make it bad or good. But sometimes that program is so embedded, it’s hard. But I have to check myself.

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The Healthy: You’ve been an outspoken health advocate about a lot of issues, almost ahead of your time in some ways. You were part of the Clearblue’s Conceivinghood campaign. These days so many women are talking about fertility issues. Are you still involved in the campaign, and what did you learn that might be helpful for other women?

Jordana Brewster: I’m not involved in the campaign, but similar to when I came out and spoke about eating issues and my struggle with that, when I came out and spoke really openly about surrogacy, a lot of women reached out, and they were like, “What was your journey? Do you have any advice?” It was really, really helpful and therapeutic for me to be able to share and give back because I did have a very positive experience, and I have two beautiful boys thanks to gestational surrogacy.

So yeah, I was really grateful to be able to have that opportunity and de-stigmatize and educate other women about the opportunities that are out there.

The Healthy: On the heels of Fast X, you have a new sci-fi movie, Simulant, coming up.

Jordana Brewster: Simulant was very prescient. I play a widow who lost her husband and then chooses to bring him back via this robot. It’s very similar to AI and what we’re all talking about right now. While we were filming it, I didn’t realize how close to reality we were getting. … We’re grappling with the same themes right now.

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