Fittest Guys in America

Mac Danzig – UFC Fighter

MF: Your path to being a vegan started when you cut out milk in 1999. And that was due to an allergy?

MD: I would always get these inner ear infections and never knew what the problem was. Sometimes allergies develop as you get older, or they can get worse. I was right out of high school and I was getting vertigo real bad from the infections. I did some research and found out that milk allergies can cause those problems, so I cut out all dairy products and I haven’t had a single problem since.

What made you decide to stop eating meat?

When I was 16, I cut out beef and pork. I just got to the point where I wanted to minimize my intake of animal products. I knew about factory farming and the theories that meat wasn’t safe, but I subscribed to the theory that if you were doing something athletic, you needed to have protein, so I kept eating chicken and fish. But then in 2004, I got to the point where I was sick of eating chicken. It started grossing me out for some reason. I was about a month out from a fight and I decided I was going to cut out all meat. I was working with a trainer who was vegan and he helped me make the switch. I won that fight and went on a 12-fight winning streak. And [not eating meat] made it really easy to cut weight for that fight.

Are you the only MMA fighter who’s a vegan?

Yeah. Jake Shields is a vegetarian and he’s very successful, but I’m the only one who’s full vegan, as far as I know.

You’ve mentioned that you don’t even eat that many vegetables overall. What do you eat?

Yeah, I do eat more vegetables more as I get closer to a fight because I need to feel my best. The rest of the time, I still eat them but I eat more grains, tofu, and fruit. Around a fight, I start eating more whole foods and vegetables, but as far as taste goes, it’s a bit of a sacrifice [laughs].

Do you ever cheat with animal products at all?


You said it’s easier to cut as a vegan. Is that because nothing you eat can turn to fat?

Well, when I’m not preparing for a fight, I’m eating my fair share of sugary foods, so that can turn to fat. I don’t know what it is exactly. It probably has to do with the digestive process because it’s a little easier with a vegan diet, and I probably retain a lot less water. What I’m eating doesn’t have much sodium, so I don’t retain much water. It only takes me three weeks to cut from 170 to 155. About three weeks out from the fight, I restrict to where I’m eating no junk food and watching the calories. Even though I’m training three times a day, I’ll cap it at 3,000 calories a day. Two weeks out, it’s 2,000 a day. One week out, I take it down to 1,800 a day and no sodium and then I only have to cut three or four pounds of water weight before the weigh in.

How did you get started in fighting?

I watched the first UFC and was a big fan. I was born in Cleveland and grew up in Pittsburgh with a brief stint in Virginia Beach. I had been watching the fights but never had a place to train. But then a guy moved to my area and he did jiu-jitsu and I started training with him. And then it just took off. I started fighting in amateur MMA fights within a year. Then in 2002, a friend and I decided to move out to California. We wanted to train at Team Punishment with Tito Ortiz. We actually ended up training at RAW instead.

So how did you get on The Ultimate Fighter show?

The show producers knew who I was and they wanted me on the show. They flew me to Vegas and interviewed me to make sure I wasn’t completely devoid of personality. I knew [the show] was going be a great opportunity so I did it.

And you steamrolled everybody!

A lot of those guys were a little intimidated because they had a lack of experience. There are a lot of guys who’ve come out of that show that have a lot of potential but they’re in the UFC now and fighting top level guys. They’re good but it’s like they’re in there too soon, and that can hurt your career ultimately.

What is your weight training like?

I mostly just do body weight stuff and plyometrics. Pull ups and pushups. I’ve done Olympic weightlifting and sledgehammers and tire flips, but nowadays most of my training is just hard sparring. I have good genetics and I’m naturally athletic.

What do you think about the claims that soy protein is estrogenic and will make you grow boobs and cause your balls to fall off?

I think that’s funny. From personal experience, I eat plenty of stuff with soy and nothing’s happened. I know people who’ve taken testosterone and they’ve gotten gynocomastia from the extra testosterone. So if testosterone can make your body produce more estrogen, then wouldn’t eating something that supposedly raises estrogen levels also raise your testosterone? My body would want to level it out. I never subscribed to the theory that you need 1.5 or two grams of protein per pound of body weight, and when I did some research on it I found that your body can only absorb so much. I shoot for 120 grams a day, which is less than a gram per pound.

You always seem to have a cool head, do you do anything for mental toughness?

I always make sure I train my hardest with the best people possible. If you feel like you haven’t trained your hardest, you won’t do your best. So that’s a big mental edge for me. I also practice meditation and visualization to handle the anxiety of performing in front of a lot of people.

Who would you most like to fight in the world?

Just the best fighters. When my career is said and done, whether I become a champion and one of the best in the world or not, I want to be able to say that I didn’t duck anyone and always fought the toughest opponents. I won’t turn any fight down. I’d rather fight BJ Penn now than pad my record with a bunch of mediocre guys.

How about an animal abuser or a factory farmer?

[Laughs] This is just a sport for me. It’s not about animosity and wanting to be violent. I wouldn’t give those people the satisfaction of fighting me in my sport. If I had to take care of one of those guys, it would be in a back alley with a baseball bat [laughs].

Back to the 2008 MF 25

Ryan Sheckler – Pro Skateboarder

MF: What’s your perspective on fitness for skateboarding?
I skate a lot with my shirt off, so working out has always been important to me. I almost have as much fun working out as I do skating. And seeing your body change, and seeing yourself get bigger and more toned and cut, makes a big difference in how you feel about yourself. As of right now I’m working out three times a week and it’s fun.

How did you first get into working out?
Where I’m from, San Clemente, California, there are a lot of high school football players and big kids—fit kids—that are into training. I saw kids getting big and I wanted to get big. I started lifting weights and I got strong. It’s a great feeling when people look at you and say, ‘Wow, you’ve been going to the gym.’ My dad is huge, and I look up to him when it comes to training—I don’t want to be as big as him, but I want to get jacked.

Does partying ever get you off track for staying fit and skating?
No, I have my priorities straight, and I always have. I am a skateboarder and to stay fit for skating I have to stay away from a lot of things. I go to parties and that’s fun for me, but between skating and lifting and everything, I know what I have to do the next day, so I’m very conscious about my schedule and keeping it.

What are the biggest physical challenges for you in your sport?
For me, the reason I keep working out and want to get bigger and focus on staying fit is because when you do fall its easier to tighten up and not get hurt. I also wrestle and that helps me a lot with taking a fall. A lot of what I do at the end of they day are things that will help me to not get hurt.

What are some of the things you can do to prepare for competition season?

It’s definitely training. It’s making sure my cardio’s right, making sure I’m satisfied with how I look and being able to roll out of a fall — that takes a lot of stress off my plate.

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Greg Long – Pro Surfer

MF: What’s it like to ride a monster wave?
When you are sitting out there and you see this giant wall of water coming at you, every single time, you have to think to yourself, “Are you really ready to do this?” You need that reality check because there are consequences. You never know what is going to happen. There are so many variables out of your control that if something were to go wrong, it is life and death. Then it’s just a few seconds staring at this thing, every bit of knowledge I’ve gained over the years of surfing, learning wave judgment, swell directions, the ins and outs of the breaks, all run through my head. No two waves are ever the same, so everything comes down to your natural instinct and reaction living in that one second. You turn around, put your head down and paddle your heart out, and you do not think twice. Once you get up and see your feet you are just focusing on the few inches above the nose of your board and you feel the wave growing behind you. The whitewater is building right behind you, chasing your heels, your heart is up at your throat and you are so focused in that few seconds on what you need to do to make that wave, anything else going on is irrelevant. It’s an incredible feeling.

Physically, for a big-wave surf competition, what is the biggest challenge?
The biggest challenge is in wiping out, being able to hold your breath and overcome it. Being able to stay calm and relaxed underwater and work through a serious amount of energy on top of you, not knowing when you’ll get up for your next breath. You need good endurance and paddling stamina, paddling for each wave exerts a serious amount of energy, prior to even catching a wave you put out so much energy so when you do fall it becomes a mental game to calm yourself down and keep your heart rate down while you’re underwater and get through it.

How do you train to prepare for big wave surfing?
I have a variety of exercises, physical and mental, I partake in. I have no set strict regimen I need to follow. My days are dictated by the surf. If there are good waves I’m up early and in the water. I also do Bikram yoga 3 to 5 times a week. That is incredible for strength and flexibility, and getting in tune with breathing while doing strenuous posses and postures. I also do a lot of running, swimming, and underwater training for holding my breath. I do a lot of spear fishing and free diving—that is a great way to control my breath underwater at serious depths. A lot of paddling and paddle boarding as well, that is good way to prevent myself from getting fatigued and cramping up during a session

Do you focus on your diet?
I keep a real healthy clean diet. I make sure I’m putting good foods in me to sustain energy level. I eat foods with higher protein content, but I’m not an advocate of going to the gym and building huge muscles, because a lot of muscle mass won’t do me any good for surfing. It’s more a balance of your strength and not adding weight to your body that can be a hindrance.

What does it mean for you to be fit for surfing?
Everybody’s body is unique. I personally have found that you need to be well balanced on your toes. A lot of the top surfers are actually pretty small individuals. People are always surprised to see that I am as thin as I am. I think it comes down to being supple, light on your feet, and being able to adjust your weight. As far as working out, I do some weight training, but it is all more geared toward building core strength. It’s important to have a good weight-to-strength ratio.

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Chase Utley – Pro Baseball Player

MF: What kind of off-season stuff did you do to get your body ready for the ’08 campaign? Is there even a true off-season anymore, especially for a franchise infielder like yourself?

CU: This was the shortest off-season so far in my career. It went by extremely fast. My downtime was about 3 1/2 weeks where I didn’t do much except let my body recuperate from the season. After that, come mid-November I started working on strength, flexibility, agility, and a lot of core.

What’s your diet like?

I like chicken and some fruits and vegetables. Over the past five years I’ve adjusted my diet here and there. I stay away from soda. The only liquid I put it my body is water. I think nutrition is extremely important. The healthier you eat, the better your body will respond to athletic competition.

Do you have to work to stay lean, or does it come naturally to you?

I’ve always been lean. Whether that is being blessed or not, I don’t know. I’ve actually tried to put on weight during the off-season because I lose it very quickly when games start. I try to come into spring training a little heavier than I’d like to be because I know I’ll lose that weight.

You’re a versatile hitter and player, but you’ve got impressive power as well. How do you work on building that kind of home-run power?

I don’t think I have impressive power. I think the guy next to me at first base has impressive power. My whole goal every year is to improve. Get stronger, quicker, and become a better player. Occasionally, I sneak a homer out of the park.

What’s your focus in the gym? Are you working on building more size and strength, or are you more concerned with flexibility?

My focus in the gym is all three of them. I like to add some muscle and continue to keep my flexibility. Having a strong core is important, as is becoming a better athlete.

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Brady Quinn – NFL Quarterback

MF: How does the workout of a quarterback differ from that of, say, a linebacker?

BQ: I think the biggest thing is I obviously focus a bit more on my shoulders and my arm, both in the way of protecting them when you work out—you don’t want to do any exercises that compromise that—and also, you want to remain extremely flexible in everything you do. That’s a huge component in your throwing motion, just helping yourself to remain loose, so you can just drop back and throw the ball.

So what kind of exercises do you do to promote your flexibility?

I do different types of stretching and various running drills, things of that nature, just to get loosened up. After I get done, I spend some time static stretching. I think everyone has those big rubber bands that you can use to stretch out your legs, shoulders, and so forth. And there’s a thing I like to use called Power Plates that help you become more flexible a little bit quicker.

What’s your off-season lifting routine like? What are you trying to improve upon in terms of your body?

It varies from year to year. If you would have asked me this past off-season, I would have told you my focus was more on gaining back some muscle mass, some strength, some power, and explosion. Coming straight off a college season and jumping into preparation for the combine, you really don’t have an opportunity to recuperate your body. You kind of just jump right into the next thing, and from there, you jump right into OTA and minicamps, and then you have a short break, and then you’re in camp. This off-season was trying to get more flexibility, power, strength and explosion.

How’s your diet?

I’m an advocate of organic foods and remain big on vegetables and raw foods, but I do try to max the one pound, one gram of protein intake, so I definitely try to stay lean and take in some lean beef, chicken, a lot of fish, that kind of thing. I supplement things with Myoplex shakes and other nutrition supplements.

What do you rep with if you’re not trying to max out?

It all depends. My workouts vary. As far as strength training, I’ll build up. I’ll do like five sets of five, I’ll start off with 205 lbs and build up to about 255-265 lbs. I’ll pause at the chest for each five. And then at the end, I’ll do a rep out set of 225 lbs. And then I’ll shoot for 20-25, somewhere in there, depends on how heavy I go up.

You also spoke about explosiveness. Specifically, what kind of exercises are you doing to add that to your game?

It varies. One-armed dumbbell shrug, deadlifts, all different kinds of squats, RDL’s. They help me maintain stability throughout my core but at the same time, they still help you develop explosiveness. I’m big into med ball throws of various types, developing explosion through that, and then probably plyos: Box jumps, jumping down from plyos, working on that kind of stuff, various plyometric exercises in between.

Last year, when Bill Parcells was working for ESPN, he brought out a letter he had written Tony Romo while in Dallas, imploring the young QB to squat and run. How important is the squat to your workouts?

It’s huge. I actually do various types of squats, from front squats to back squats. There are all kinds of ways to do it. I’ll do holds, maybe hold in a certain position, maybe I’ll be in the end-range position, holding for 50 seconds with a certain weight, and various points throughout the actual movement, because I think it helps build stability. I think it helps build core strength and power, and, on top of that, of course running.

When you work out, what do you listen to?

I’m a classic rock type of guy. Sometimes it varies to hip hop, or some sort of hard rock. I enjoy listening to Metallica when I work out. I’ve got a thing for ’80s rock bands, like Poison.

The Browns were very close to making the playoffs in 2007. What do you think you guys need to do to get over the hump in 2008?

I think we had a great opportunity at the end of the season to get in there. We just need to capitalize on those sort of opportunities. If we remain consistent and keep building, getting better as a team, we’ll definitely make the playoffs.

Have you always been a lean guy?

I’d like to give my parents a lot of credit. I’ve always been pretty lean. Again, a lot of it too has been the workouts, eating right, and taking care of my body.

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Dwight Howard – NBA player

MF: You’ve arguably got the best arms in the league right now. Is that a body part you’ve always focused on in the gym?

No, my arms just developed naturally with the progression of my body. Some is natural and some is hard work. I used to be skinny in high school but then I started working out, lifting weights, and eating better.

Was there a point when you “figured it out,” and started to pack muscle on your frame more easily?

Yes, probably my second year in the NBA. I realized that my routine was working and my muscles were developing so I didn’t change anything, just stayed consistent.

The Slam Dunk Contest during February’s All-Star weekend was insane

The behind-the-backboard dunk is actually an easy dunk for me now because I practiced it for almost two years. I watched Allen Iverson and Andre Iguodala do the same dunk together a few years ago during the dunk contest and I thought it would be amazing if I could do it on my own.

When you did the Superman dunk, you were up so high that you sort of threw the ball into the rim. Did you feel like you jumped too high—if that’s even possible?

Yes, I have jumped that high and even higher plenty of times. The effect of the dunk was to make it seem impossible, something only Superman could do. When I was in the air I spotted Jason Kidd’s son TJ in the corner of my eye and I thought to myself, ‘I want to make this dunk for him.’ TJ really wanted me to win the dunk contest.

What kind of lifts do you concentrate on in the gym?

Bench press, lat pull-downs, different quad exercises, push-ups and core work.

Did you notice a marked difference between how you look (and feel) this season and what it was like for you as a rookie?

Yes, I’ve grown into my body. I’ve become stronger over the last couple of years. As a rookie, I was getting pushed around in the paint, but now I’m doing the pushing.

Do you do anything extra, past what is mandated for you by the Orlando Magic training staff?

During the off-season I work with a trainer to keep my regimen on track. Last summer I started boxing and I really enjoyed it. I love training, it’s a lot of work but the results are rewarding.

What’s your favorite lift in the gym?

That would be the bench press. I usually press about 365.

Which players did you emulate growing up?

Magic Johnson. I watched all of Magic’s instructional basketball videos as a kid. I wanted to be just like him; the first 6’11 point guard.

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Jimmy Smith & Doug Anderson – TV Co-Hosts

On your show Fight Quest, you travel the world to study different fighting techniques. Which style of fighting was the most demanding?

DA: The hardest for me was when we were in the Philippines. The first day, they put me through this initiation ritual that lasted seven hours of intense muscle-destruction workouts. By the end, even my toes were cramping up — there was nothing left in my body. I kept thinking, ‘Dear God, let this shit end.’

JS: Not only was the style really brutal, but I was about to fight a guy with a stick, and Doug goes up to me and says, “You know, he killed someone in a knife fight two weeks ago.”

DA: The guy I fought in the end, he comes up to me afterwards to shake my hand and says, “Good fight. I wanted to give you this sword. You know what’s cool about this sword?” And I go, “It’s really nice and sharp.” And he says, “I’ve killed people with it!”

JS: When we fought, we fought in front of these marines and their commanding officer. And they all had machine guns on them. I beat one of their guys with the stick, and I thought, “We need to get out of here!”

DA: We had no clue what we were getting ourselves into. There were no safety barriers. They did a pep talk before the final fights and got everyone together. The guys we were supposed to fight didn’t speak any English. The producers told them, “Alright guys, this is for TV. We know you can kill these two. Just take it easy, OK?” And we get out there and it’s mayhem. When I first started, I was like, “What the fuck did I get myself into?” By episode six, I thought, if I made it this far, I can probably handle anything [Discovery Channel] throws at me. Until Shark Week comes along.

How about you, Jimmy? What was the most physically demanding country?

JS: They’re all so tough. One of the hardest workouts, because of their mentality, was Israel. I lived on a military base and trained with the Israeli defense force. The base I was at was the fitness headquarters for the IDF. They did a lot of drills to see if you were special-forces material. “Run up the mountain 15 times.” And if you can’t, you’re not going to make it. There was another drill where there was an X in the middle of the floor, and you have to hold onto the X while 30 people bum-rushed you. I’m holding onto this X in this dog-pile and thinking, “What the hell am I doing here?” Another time, there were these two heavyweights and we each got a number: one, two, and three. Each time a number was called, the other two beat up on that person. Well, I was No. 2. So, they call out: “Two!” And they just wailed on me. It wasn’t so much a martial art; it was more about how much you can take.

How long have you been practicing martial arts?

DA: Since birth [laughs]. Only two years for me. I started a little bit when I was in the military and that’s what got me interested in it. I trained for a year before I got on the show, and I only had one fight going into the show.

How much time do you have to learn all these fighting styles?

DA: We only have five days to learn everything and then recuperate. We’re driven through hell, it’s extremely emotional — and in the end, we’re actually expected to learn something and be able to fight competitively.

JS: We say all the time that it would be easier to get off the plane and fight. You don’t condition yourself in five days—you just hurt yourself. In Japan, we did knuckle-busting stuff, climbing up stairs on our knuckles. Your knuckles don’t get tougher in five days, you just rip your knuckles up!

So why do you guys do the show, then?

DA: For me, it’s personal. I have too much pride to walk away from anything. I like challenges. That need to feel I can conquer anything. There’s nothing you can put in front of me that I can’t handle.

JS: That first episode we did [in the Philippines], I remember thinking to myself earlier the day of the fight, “Is this gonna feel like a fight, or is this gonna feel like a TV show?” I’m an MMA fighter—about four years professionally, six years training. Am I going to have to act like this is a fight. Man, it felt like a fight. And once I got that feeling, you want it again. It’s like a cagefight, every single time.

Jimmy, what does that do for your MMA career. Because if you get injured from Fight Quest…

JS: I had to take a year off from cagefighting. We had two weeks on, two weeks off. That’s not enough time to come home and train because I’d come home and ice everything that hurt, which was a lot, and rehab myself and get over the jet lag and then we’re off again. My striking was still good, but my timing was off. But mentally, if you can step into a ring with five heavyweights in a style you don’t know and survive? You’re not scared of anything.

What’s advice you can give readers on how to survive a bar brawl?

DA: One tip if you get into a fight? Hit ’em in the balls! The key thing is to keep your hands up. Keep them glued to your head and it’s really hard for someone to hurt you. It’s pretty basic, and it’ll keep you alive.

JS: Most people on the street can’t fight. Last time I saw two people fight, I was laughing. They were [motions flailing arms] windmilling it! It doesn’t take more than two to three days a week at a halfway decent kickboxing gym for you to be able to beat 95% of people on the street.

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Dierks Bentley – Country singer

MF: Tell us a little bit about how you workout when you’re out on the road touring.

DB: It’s a totally different lifestyle out here and requires a totally different approach. Every show you play you’re totally exhausted but the only way to get all that energy back is to workout. The more tired you are, the more you gotta go to the gym and try to sweat out the night before and try to clean the slate so you can do it again. I’m not sure why you get more energy from working out but it seems that’s the way it is. Just being out here is an active lifestyle. You’re playing big rooms and have a lot of walking around and the show itself is a big stage and another hour and a half of cardio since there’s a lot of running around. It’s like getting two workouts a day. I’ve probably lost 15 pounds from when I first started touring just from the lifestyle itself. You just don’t eat a lot of food when you’re out here to begin with and get most of your carbs from a beer can. For a while I was doing 30 minutes of cardio on what I call the “Soccer Mom 4000,” the elliptical glide. Something like that or the treadmill. 30 minutes of that and then some circuit training. My brother is 10 years younger than me and big into working out so he’s always giving me different circuits to do, just trying to find four different areas and something I can do within a half hour. I’m not trying to get bigger but just stay in shape.

How do you stay active when you’re not touring?

When I’m not on the road one thing I do every week is play hockey in a men’s league back in Nashville. I’ve been playing hockey for the last seven years. That’s a huge cardio workout. You’re having so much fun you don’t realize how hard your workout is or what your heart rate is.

You mean you play ice hockey, not deck hockey or roller hockey, right?

Yeah, ice hockey. If you go online, the team is the Nashville Ice Holes. If you Google it, it pops up. The guys that do it are pretty hardcore about keeping up on the games and blogging about them. It’s an addictive sport and a great workout.

Now tell me about the old Jeep you bought to tow along with the bus. Did you get that just for working out?

I used to have a motorcycle but those are tiring. You come back and are just exhausted from the wind. I have an old ’77 CJ7 Jeep. Most days it runs. Some days it decides not to. We’ve had some interesting situations with that thing. I got a Garmin GPS and wakeup and type in ‘fitness’ and it just pulls up the closest places. We just roll the dice and usually show up and trade tickets for a workout. I’ve probably been to more gyms, I could be doing research and development for a gym manufacturing company. We’ve hit every chain, every independent gym. There have been days we’ve worked out in the basements of churches out in the middle of nowhere. It’s great having three other guys in the band who work out consistently. There are a lot of days you don’t want to go but having someone there to drag you out of your bunk and ridicule you really helps get you motivated.

Have you always been an athlete? Did you play sports growing up?

I’ve always been pretty active. I never was really a standout at any sports but always loved playing soccer, baseball and lacrosse. I used to ski a lot in Colorado when I lived in Arizona.

You’re one of the faces of Bud Light. I imagine you’ve got to work those extra calories off the next morning as well.

I don’t drink too much beer. I make sure to hit all the proper liquid sources from vodka to a little Jack Daniels now and then (laughs). We have a good time out here but I don’t get wasted every night. You can’t tour six years running straight like that. Living on the road you don’t eat a lot of food. I’ll have lunch after working out, a small dinner and then a tuna fish sandwich from Subway every night after the show. I usually don’t go to bed till about 3 AM most nights. It’s ‘The Tour Bus Diet.” Don’t eat a lot, drink beer, work out.

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Shemar Moore – TV Star

MF: Working 14-16 hour days on a TV show, how do you squeeze in workouts into your busy schedule?

SM: I’ve worked out my entire life. I’m not right if I don’t work out. The job got me a gym on wheels, so I have a workout trailer that travels with us from set to set. I have a personal trainer that I love and adore who gets me in the kind of shape I could never get myself into. When you have a trainer, you don’t have to think about nothing. When you work out by yourself, your breaks take a little bit longer, and you watch more TV than you’re supposed to.

Tell us about your role as Derek Morgan on the show Criminal Minds.

This is the most authentic role I’ve ever had: Chasing bad guys, doing my own stunts, doing fights. There is an action hero inside of me waiting to come out. If only Matt Damon and those guys could please just sit down somewhere, and give me a chance [Laughs.] There are moments where I seem to be Action Jackson. I am the tough guy of the group. This is the most demanding physically and emotionally. It’s a combination of being athletic and cerebral, it’s a very cerebral show so I’m able to flex my brain.

How does fitness fit into your role?

I’m not gonna lie, I’m vain like anybody else. I do things more excessively for the sake of Derek Morgan. It’s not just for me. I don’t want to make him too big, like a brute or a linebacker for the Raiders. Do I ever want to be an FBI profiler looking at severed bodies and raped prostitutes in real life? Not really, not my thing. But art imitates life in the sense that my whole life up until a point has been about athletics. My mother jokes that I came out of her kicking a soccer ball.

What other sports did you play growing up?

As a kid, I played everything. Soccer was not my main sport, but I was pretty good at it. My main sport was baseball. My uncle was so good and I was in such awe of him. God blessed me with some athleticism. I got real good real quick. I made every all-star team, and eventually got a full scholarship to Santa Clara University. Coming out of high school, I was throwing 94 miles an hour. I got [courted by] Baltimore and Boston, but my mother wouldn’t let me go into the draft because she didn’t want me to rely on my athletic ability. She insisted that I go to college. I also played football, I was the wide receiver, the free safety, and I ran track.

What else do you do to stay in shape?

I’m really into cycling. I like to be challenged. My mother has MS. I realized there were MS organizations that put on charity rides. Now, we have a legitimate Criminal Minds cycling team. This year we had 35 riders, and we rode 100 miles to raise money for MS. What started off as just a hobby to stay in shape has now become a way to make Mama proud and help those who are suffering. Now, after all these years working out, it’s not just about how good I look in the mirror. Now I can give back.

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