Gina Rodriguez probably wasn't planning on getting in a workout just by starring in the film Deepwater Horizon, but that's what she got thanks to the sheer size and scope of the sets.
"We had an oil rig the same size they would have on the ocean," she told PEOPLE Thursday at CinemaCon. "It was about 90 feet high; it was just like a whole city block long. We had to climb these stairs every day to get to the top, and you have to go all the way down. It's like four or five flights up."
The Jane the Virgin star, 31, tackled that hike multiple times a day to play Andrea Fleytas, a woman who survived the real-life catastrophe that occurred in the Gulf of Mexico on April 20, 2010.
However, the climb wasn't all physical.
"It was a climb of bravery, a climb of knowledge," she said. "It was just so much."
In introducing a trailer of the film during CinemaCon, Rodriguez said she considers herself a strong woman – but she couldn't help but feel awed during filming.
"I put up boxing videos on Instagram and I think I'm tough, but this movie was exceptional," she said inside the 4,000-seat Colosseum in Caesars Palace. "The sets were as massive as this room."
Although her primary concern was honoring the victims of the biggest oil spill in U.S. history, she acknowledges that the de facto workout she got during filming was a perk.
And, like many challenges, the struggle got easier with time.
"By midway through, I was like, 'I got this!' " she said.
Deepwater Horizon floats into theaters Sept. 30.