Charlie Cox never even had a gym membership before he took on the titular role of Netflix’s Daredevil. Now, having played the masked vigilante for over three years, most recently in Defenders (Netflix, again), fitness has become a daily consideration for the British actor.
“I was driven to do the comic books justice from the get-go,” Cox says. “There was absolutely a way I knew I had to look atheistically, but I also was starting to see that the conditioning would be important for all the fight sequences we have. So I knew I was going to have to find the right person to help me on that journey.”
Cox was pointed towards Naqam Washington of Arazi Fitness, whose history with both pro sports and martial arts made him the perfect candidate to help Cox get superhero strong. “The fact that he has a martial arts background is perfect,” Cox says, “because we are able to throw that training into the traditional weight training.”
Cox explains what goes into getting ready to suit up.
What do you enjoy about playing Daredevil as a character?
The great uniqueness to Daredevil is that his human life is the lie, not his superhero identity. The man is a superhero, but he has to pretend like he’s this feeble person out in the world. Every time I play him there’s a new complexity I discover, like in Defenders, it presents an interesting complication for him because he has never had an interest in being part of a team. He believes that anyone who gets close to him, or knows his identity, could get hurt. But through working with the Defenders, he learns how important having support can be.
The filming of a season can take months. Is it tough to keep up physically?
I would consider my training more of a way of life at this point than a job requirement or temporary responsibility. It has changed the way I eat on a daily basis and I work out about five or six times a week. I haven’t really taken much time off between seasons either, mostly due to the fear that I’ll have to start all over again.
The fight sequences are fantastic; do you have a favorite marital art to incorporate?
I like to think of Daredevil as a really talented pub fighter or a great street brawler. He has studied all of the martial arts, but he uses a little bit of everything whenever the moment suits him. He could go from boxing to Muay Thai to Jiu Jitsu just like that. Because of that, our sequences have a little bit of everything and I find myself really enjoying all of it.
How do your sessions usually go?
Ideally I would like to do two sessions a day, but because of our crazy production schedule that’s just not possible. So my trainer Naqam has started doing Texas Method with me, where we combine two different movements along with weight training. It absolutely destroys me.
The Daredevil Training Program
“I’m a big advocate of bands and chains,” Washington says. “Using accommodating resistance you can quickly improve rate of force, acceleration, and, of course, power. Each day we pick nine movements to do, doing three of them in 20-minute blocks, which makes our sessions only an hour. But we get a lot out of that hour.”