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John Cena's journey from a professional wrestling star to a Hollywood actor involved an emotional reflection on his body and fitness routine, he told GQ.
Cena, once the most popular wrestler in the WWE, has followed a career path, similar to Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, from scripted sports into the mainstreams of Hollywood films, and now stars in his own HBO Max series "The Peacemaker," which became one of the most-watched shows in the world in January.
But the 44-year-old actor said one of the most important new workouts on his journey into his new industry was yoga which he took up while filming "Snafu," with Jackie Chan, which is slated to release in 2022 in China.
The 6-foot-1 Cena weighed 251 lbs during his WWE career, but said he lost 20 lbs when he switched his routine to prioritize yoga.
"They could care less about how strong I was. They just wanted me to kick over my head, which was impossible," Cena told GQ. "I went over there to train with him for about three months and they stretched me like taffy. I immediately lost 20 pounds, which was very difficult for me. I even fell into a weird depression because it was like 'I'm losing everything that I worked on for 30 years!'"
Yoga is an effective workout for weight loss. But losing lots of weight quickly can affect a person's mental health and can be linked to depression.
A study at University College London examined 1,979 people in the UK with a BMI classified as overweight or obese . They found that people who lost more than 5% of their bodyweight were 52% more likely to report depression than those who shed pounds but stayed closer to their original weight, via Time Magazine.
Cena said doing yoga regularly helped him physically, and over time strengthened the connection between his body and mind — one of the reported benefits of yoga.
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"It actually keeps me present and in tune with my body. If I had anything in my mental backpack on the way into the gym, it's gone by the time I leave," Cena told GQ. "I begin to walk taller, begin to have less pain, I was more flexible, and that experience changed my life in many ways, and it taught me the value of making sure your body moves OK."
Yoga is a popular workout among pro athletes in the NFL and NBA, used by stars like LeBron James and Aaron Rodgers, for its reported benefits of improving flexibility, and mobility, and being injury prevention practice.
When Cena performed in the WWE, he said his workout routine mostly consisted of heavy weightlifting to build large muscles. But yoga helped Cena take an approach aimed at improving mobility and flexibility.
"In yoga, the concept is that you need to be present because we're going to stretch you farther than you think you can go," he told GQ.
Cena told Metro that he does most of his own stunts for "The Peacemaker," and yoga could be a big reason why. But the actor said it's also just going to improve his life overall.
"My training has switched a lot because I'm old. I'm going to be 45 this year," Cena told GQ. "Now, I'm trying to be able to lift weights when I'm 80, so I need to take a little bit more care of myself for the long term."