1) When I was in the Maine Corps I travelled the world, but no matter where I was, there was always one thing I was known for more than anything else -my passion and love for fitness. As a Marine, my training routine was predominantly based around heavy lifting and a lot of eating, with the goal of trying to get much bigger. When I graduated from Marine Corps boot camp I was around 160lb [73kg]. Being 6’3” [191cm],
I was extremely undersized for my liking, so I transformed myself by reading as much material as I could to understand the human body, did a lot of experimenting with various routines to find out what worked best for my body type and my goals, and then I ate until I couldn’t eat anymore. The result? I grew like a weed, getting up to 250lb [113kg].
2) When I had to bulk up D.J. Cotrona [who plays Flint in G.I. Joe], we went back to the lifting basics, doing a lot of old school-type movements like squats, bench press, and deadlifts to get him strong and get that solid foundation. Once we put some size on we moved into some functional training a couple of times per week to keep him agile. The functional type of training I’m referring to is the use of kettlebells, TRX, agility ladder, and battle ropes. For his nutrition, it was important that he ate a lot of protein, carbs, and veggies, with a moderate amount of fat. He has a very fast metabolism and, being as active as he was, he could eat just about anything, but we tried to keep it as clean as possible.
3) Being Dwayne Johnson’s training partner for G.I. Joe: Retaliation, I will tell you, he has a deep appreciation and respect for the gym, and he’s in there for one reason -to train and get results. He’s intense and focused on what he’s doing and doesn’t get distracted by anything. It’s always great to train with someone who has such a deep appreciation for fitness because, throughout my life, fitness has become the backbone of who I am and what fitness truly means to people like us is indescribable. I don’t run into many people, especially in the film industry, who take fitness wellness as seriously as I do. There’s a mindset that people like him have that’s difficult for others to understand but this mindset is actually a lifestyle. Although Dwayne’s an actor, he’s most definitely an athlete, and he makes his health and fitness a priority. We’d share a head nod and an occasional fist bump after getting through some painful sets but that was about the extent of our chitchat during training.
He walks into the gym, usually at an hour when everyone else is still in a deep sleep, already focused in his zone, and the rest of the world slowly fades away until he finishes his last rep.
4) Fitness training for the film industry has definitely allowed me to become better at my craft for a couple of reasons. I’ve always been that “bodybuilder” type of guy and that’s typically how I’ve been viewed -because of my size – but that style of training is not desired at all when training film clients – it just doesn’t work. What does work is functional training. I’ve spent years studying and experimenting with different equipment and techniques to put together some amazing routines that are extremely effective. There’s a balance of traditional weight training coupled with functional training that’s needed to help an actor with their character, especially in an action type of film. My goal is to always get them stronger but keep them healthy and allow them to be flexible and agile, so the risk of injury is much less than it otherwise would be. Typically, an actor who comes to me already has some form of injury, whether it’s past or current, so understanding how to work around that is crucial.
5) The motivation I have to do what I do is sometimes hard to describe. I spent several years in Iraq, had some very close calls, and lost a lot of good friends. I’ve fell on some hard times, including living out of my car, not having a dime in the bank, literally losing everything I had. What I’ve made it through and to be alive today with the ability to share my life experiences and my passion for fitness while helping change people’s lives is priceless. I’ve always wanted to be that guy who does something no one else has ever done. It’s an amazing experience when someone I don’t know comes up to me and gives huge thanks because they’ve been able to draw strength and motivation from me to get through their tough times.
6) Let’s talk nutrition for a minute because it’s so important in achieving fitness goals people have – they go hand-in-hand. There’s so much misinformation about nutrition and I find so many people just giving up because they’re so discouraged. My nutrition tips: a. Read about your body type
a. (ectomorph, endomoroh, mesomorph). This will help you understand a little bit more about yourself, your training, and your nutrition.
b. Start experimenting with different . foods and meals to see how your body responds. So many people have food intolerances and they don’t realise it, so even when you think you’re eating clean, your body might not be able to handle that food.
c. Understand macronutrients (protein, c. carbohydrates, fats) and what a well-balanced meal should look like.
These are all things that will help put you in the right direction with establishing a good starting point. If that fails, a good default is always to seek out a professional, whether it be a nutritionist or a nutrition coach.
7) My fitness career in the film industry started when I least expected it. Zac Efron came to New Orleans for a film called The Lucky One. Zac and his trainer signed up at a gym I was doing personal training at and we met and talked about the Marine Corps. He brought me on the film to work with him as a military advisor [The Lucky One is about an Iraq veteran from the Marine Corps]. We got a couple of training sessions in toward the end of the film, then, the following year, I was contacted by [director] Anthony Hemingway, G.I. Joe: Retaliation, Josh Duhamel, Sylvester Stallone, and Zac Efron again. Things picked up for me and it’s turned into this amazing career I have now. Most recently I’ve done stunt work on The Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and have my acting debut in a film called American Heist. I’m feeling very grateful these days and I look forward to seeing what else is in store. I look at all of this as destiny because I came to
New Orleans for something completely different but ended up with a career I could have only dreamed about. Although this journey, even today, is full of ups and downs, it’s just the way things are when you’re doing something others would tell you is impossible.
8) I often get asked about what type of music I listen to while I train. My answer shocks people every time. I don’t actually listen to music or any specific artists. Instead, I listen to the audio clips from motivational videos. As weird as it may seem, it puts my mind in a trance-like state where I can tune everything out and be in my own world. It helps me to focus on myself and pushes me through those times where I’m discouraged, tired, and just plain exhausted.
Positive reinforcement has been important to me because there have been so many times where people have tried to hold me down and tell me what I’m trying to achieve is unattainable. People who don’t have the courage to chase their own dreams will often try to discourage you from chasing yours because they just don’t get it. As long as I believe in something, and if I’m connected to it, I’ll stop at nothing to achieve it. If it’s meant to be, it will be. If it’s not, I’ve found that along that pursuit another door will open. I will always have the Marine Corps in me and the best thing about that is my unwillingness to give up and my determination to succeed.