Jason George is on the treadmill in the fitness room of his L.A.-area home, a space with a 79-inch TV, a sofa, and exercise equipment, including an elliptical, the aforementioned treadmill, and a much-used Weider Crossbow. The seven-season Grey’s Anatomy star is running at a brisk pace but not struggling to remain conversational as he describes his training preferences—all while clocking nine-minute miles.
“When I run the streets, it’s always headphones in my ears, going hard, but when I’m in here, I binge-watch TV or movies,” says George. “It’s amazing how long you can stay active when you’re watching Captain America kicking the crap out of somebody.”
Throughout his 20-year career, the Emmy-nominated actor has always been comfortable with his body. George, now 45, even appeared “buck naked” in front of 200 people in a stage production during grad school at Temple University, beat out thousands in a nationwide casting search to portray a lifeguard on the daytime soap opera Sunset Beach, in 1997, and, until last year, pulled double duty as the requisite “hot guy” on ABC’s Mistresses and as Dr. Ben Warren on Grey’s Anatomy.
“A part of my job is the physicality,” he says, “but that’s not the point. Fitness helps me think better, feel better, and move better.”
The 5’11”, 200-pounder exercises at least an hour daily: cardio-based muscle building augmented by weekly boxing sessions and trail running in Hollywood’s Runyon Canyon Park to strengthen his stabilizer muscles.
“I’ll pop six or eight miles on the elliptical,” he says. “After every mile or two, I’ll jump off and bust [out] two minutes of ab wheel [rollouts] and a pushup-plank combo: I’ll go down and hold a plank, pull the leg all the way up to the side, come down, and do it the other way. You have to just mix it up.”
Growing up in a military family in Virginia Beach, VA, George practiced mixed martial arts. While at Temple, he branched out into yoga, tai chi, bioenergetics, and even dance. The result? A realization that gym training and acting work synergistically—especially when it comes to portraying a doctor.
“It’s not like the average lawyer or doctor is a physical Adonis,” he says. “But it is amazing how many intelligent, obsessed people are driven in their physical regimen as well.”
Diet-wise, the actor adheres to Oscar Wilde’s famous edict: “Everything in moderation, including moderation.”
“I’m a black man from the South. I like my food!” George says. “I’m a chicken and fish guy, but I throw a burger in once, maybe twice a week. I don’t do carbonated drinks unless there’s rum in them. And I tend to keep carbs out of my diet as much as possible.”
And if a hectic schedule impedes his training, he’ll improvise. “They’ve got golf carts that take people back and forth between their trailers and the set,” says George. “I’ll race the cart. It probably has a max speed of 30 mph. But I was the captain of my high school track team—I’ll get there first!”