Girls

12 Facts You'd Never Guess About Stuntwomen

Stuntwoman JoJo Batten is extremely motivated, a little crazy, and always ready for a challenge.

by
JoJo Batten
Simon Howard

At the intersection of sexy and badass, you’ll find Joanne “JoJo” Batten. For more than a decade, Batten has found steady work in the film industry as a stuntwoman. She started as actress Thandie Newton’s body double in the 2008 Guy Ritchie film, RocknRolla, and has since worked on several Ritchie films (including Sherlock Holmes, King Arthur, and the upcoming Aladdin), as well as non-Ritchie projects, like Justice League and Annihilation, due out in February.

And Batten’s schedule is getting even busier. “I’ve always been a driven and motivated person,” says Batten, born and raised in London. “I feel lucky to work in an industry that combines all my passions.”

So what does it take to be a pro stuntwoman? As Batten explains, plenty of strength and endurance, lots of skill, and a few loose screws.

JoJo Batten's 12 Things to Know About Stuntwomen

1. We Can Move Like Dancers.

“I trained like a dancer for 12 years and a martial artist for five years,” Batten says. “I am also a personal trainer and a yoga teacher. This allowed me to naturally progress to the more physical side of the movie industry, and my dance background also helped when I began screen combat training. Being able to perform as many movement skills as possible is key.”

2. We Hit the Weights.

“I’ve always been physically active, but it wasn’t until three years ago, when I really focused on weight training, that I began to look the part, too. I find the gym therapeutic. It’s my ‘me time’ when I get to zone out the rest of the world and focus on myself. It has also definitely helped boost my work in the film industry.”

3. We Embrace Challenges.

“This year I entered my first bodybuilding competition at the UKBFF Zack Khan Classic and won the masters bikini fitness category, which for women over 35. I coached and prepped myself for the show, since I felt I had enough experience and the self-motivation to achieve the look I wanted. I kept my prep as simple and as healthy as possible. My day-to-day training didn’t change too much. The changes to my diet and cardio made the big difference. Six weeks out, I started doing fasted cardio each morning in the form of a low-intensity, steady-state (LISS) walk for 40 minutes and gradually tapered my calories and carbs down over the final few weeks.”

4. We’re Slightly Crazy.

“I dislocated my right shoulder just six weeks out from the competition in a motorbike incident on holiday in Ibiza. But I continued with my prep. I even trained with a sling on for a couple of weeks. For the three weeks after the disloation, all upper-body movements were off-limits, so I trained legs four or five times per week. I could add in very light upper-body training for only the final few weeks of prep. Luckily, my upper body was already well developed from all the work put in over the previous three years.”

5. We Can Handle Weapons.

“As part of my preparation for Annihilation, which stars Natalie Portman and is due out in February, I underwent three months of firearms training to look the part of the military-trained female character played by Gina Rodriguez, whom I was doubling. I needed to look as if I knew how to handle and fire an M4 carbine as if it were second nature. Some scenes also required wire-work training, which was particularly taxing on my body, but it was incredibly exhilarating being flung high and hard into walls. Oh, and I had to shave off half my head of hair for this role, too.”

6. We Can Become Amazons.

“Last year I successfully auditioned for a role in Justice League as one of Wonder Woman’s Amazonian fighters. As Amazons, we needed to be sliced and diced, so we underwent three months of brutal training to get us screen-ready. There was a lot of metabolic conditioning and circuit work: heavy sled relays, battle ropes, HIIT training on the SkiErg machine, assault bike, sprints, and rowing. It was real vomit-inducing stuff.”

7. We Know How to Die.

“For Justice League, we underwent highly specific weapons training, which included learning how to use a spear, a sword and shield, and a bow and arrow. I also needed to be able to die convincingly on camera, so we drilled and drilled, taking hits in various parts of the body from arrows, spears, and swords and simulating the eventual painful death from these injuries.”

8. We Understand Our Bodies.

“Prepping for contests while working 14-plus-hour days can be challenging, so everything has to be streamlined. I keep things simple by sticking to the basics that I know work for me. I have go-to, easy-to-prepare meals, which doesn’t make for the most exciting diet, but it’s only short-term, so I suck it up and get on with it. I’m able to prep and coach myself because I know my body so well now.

“My advice for others: Get to know what works for you and stick with it. People can overcomplicate nutrition. At the end of the day, it’s just input versus output, using the macros that suit you. I’ve found over the past few years that I’m actually very well adapted to carbohydrates, having avoided them for years previously. My energy levels and body composition have never been better at the grand age of 38.”

9. We Can Kick Ass.

“I’ve been tasked with getting the lead actors for Aladdin in shape for their roles in a very limited time period, so I have both actors training with me five times a week in a specially designed gym at the studios. Mena Massoud, who plays Aladdin, has been on a bulking and then cutting program, and Naomi Scott, who plays Jasmine, has been on a cutting plan and is making incredible progress in her strength and fitness. They’re both killing their training, and I’m incredibly proud of them. I’m also planning to produce an online training program and nutrition package.”

10. We Don't Make Excuses.

“It’s all too easy to say you don’t have time to fit everything in. But in this game you have to master a lot of skills and work hard. I’m always against the clock, but I still find time to train. My weekly training split is simple and time-efficient. My on- and off-season training doesn’t really change at all. It’s the diet and cardio that alter.”

11. We Treat Our Bodies Right.

“I like to take walks, either hiking in the countryside or exploring the city. I’m also still a keen dancer, and I take classes whenever I can. I’m a qualified yoga teacher, but I don’t always get to spend as much time on it as I would like, so weekends are a great chance to get in full recovery sessions. My body needs to be able to perform at its peak at all times, so I need to take care and maintain it with regular deep-tissue sports massage and physio.”

12. We Never Stop Grinding.

“I feel lucky to work in an industry that combines all my passions. But it isn’t luck that got me here—it’s been hard graft. The film industry is tough and involves very long hours. It requires lots of sacrifices, but the final results are always worth the effort. It’s incredibly satisfying watching the final edit on the big screen, and I never dread going to work on a Monday morning.”

Comments