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Stuntwoman April Sutton Gorges on Muffins Twice a Week

The Chicago Fire and PD daredevil on kettlebells, Muay Thai, and her wacky diet.

April Sutton
Photo: Lisa Predko

A typical day for Sutton might involve coaching a client through a tough workout — or getting in a catfight with Taraji P. Henson. The 30-year-old personal trainer and stuntwoman has doubled for Grace Byers (Anika Calhoun) on Empire and battled blazes and criminals on Chicago Fire and Chicago P.D. When she’s not working at Lateral Fitness in River North, the Streeterville resident is tinkering with her new wellness app, Stay Strong.

Mindfulness practice

First thing when I wake up — before I even check my phone — I meditate for 10 minutes. I put on music or rain sounds, get centered, then speak my affirmations: “I’m strong, confident, beautiful, courageous, motivating. I am open to all opportunities. I seek to be healthy and positive and happy, and I seek that for others too.” I’ll take three to five deep breaths and then count down. That helps me start my day with gratitude.

Training routine

Twice a week, I’ll take my dog, Pluto, and we’ll do hill sprints for 30 minutes. Three to four times a week, I’m doing kettlebells or Animal Flow for flexibility and mobility. And I do vinyasa yoga on Monday nights.

Caffeination method

I was an avid coffee drinker. It gave me insomnia, so now I just drink Lipton tea. It’s improved my skin — coffee dehydrates you.

Martial artistry

I got into Muay Thai to get more conditioned and agile. Two days a week, that’s the priority — an hour and a half, sometimes two. I do pad work to be comfortable with throwing combinations You’re not throwing punches for the sake of it. You’re following a strategy.

Bruise banisher

Doing stunts, I definitely get banged up. I put Epsom salts in my bath for healing, or use coconut oil.

Eating plan

My personal nutritional philosophy — it’s not for everybody — is more paleo or keto, very high protein and high fat. I’ll start with an egg white omelet that has spinach or mixed greens, a side of avocado, and green tea. Midmorning, I’ll have a whey protein shake. For lunch, it’s either ground turkey or ground chicken with a vegetable mix. I usually snack on roasted almonds. In the evening, I do blackened salmon or chicken breast, vegetables, and some sort of fat — olive oil or a handful of nuts. Two times a week, I’ll eat steak. I’m iron deficient, and the amino acids in beef are important for what I do.

Carbohydrate infusion

Even on a high-protein diet, your body needs carbs. Once or twice a week, I’ll do a refeed to spike my blood sugar and increase my metabolism. I’ll eat two or three muffins all at once — Whole Foods has these awesome vegan blueberry ones. If I do this in public in my crop top and tight leggings, women wonder, “How can you eat all those and look like that?” I’m like, “You don’t know my life.”

Staying ready

Consistency is key. I’m always looking lean. With fitness, film, TV, you can get an opportunity within 10 or 15 minutes. Plus, I want to be as authentic as possible. When you see me in person, I want you to be like, She’s the real deal. Not like you were catfished.

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