Nothing takes the venom out of an alpha male like a giggling baby girl, but it’s a part of Derek Theler’s day job. The commanding sidekick towers over his co-stars as Wheeler, the hockey-loving comic relief of ABC Family’s hit series Baby Daddy, and while it’s clear that the guy knows his way around the gym, he admits to being clueless when it comes to his little co-stars. Theler reveals the secrets to calling twin baby girls his coworkers, staying fit on set, and surviving those awkward moments when the biggest squeals aren’t from the babies, but the ladies admiring his hard-earned physique.
Men’s Fitness: How’d you get into fitness?
Derek Theler: I’m actually a Type 1 diabetic, so growing up, I had to eat pretty healthy. My father was really big into weightlifting, and I picked it up pretty quickly. I wound up getting my degree in sports medicine and nutrition because I wanted to work in the medical field. But I wound up taking a trip to Los Angeles and decided being an actor sounds pretty cool, too. So now it’s a part of my job to look as good as I can!
At 6’5” and 240 pounds, what’s it like being the tallest guy in the audition room?
It’s tough for a casting director to take you seriously—I’m basically the size of the door to get in. They’re not gonna want a guy my size to be towering over everyone else on set. But I try and use it to my advantage—it definitely makes me stand out.
Has working with twin girls taught you about fatherhood?
I feel like it’s taught me a lot! The thing about Baby Daddy and our twins is that they’re always at their best: As soon as one of them gets cranky, we basically don’t have to deal with them! Our babies are beautiful, but it’s definitely made me realize that I don’t know if I’m quite ready for that just yet!
What’s been the most uncomfortable moment?
One time, the baby threw up all over my co-star Chelsea Kane! So wardrobe is freaking out and we’re still trying to get through the scene as the baby is throwing up and see what we could use.
When the time comes, are you going with a baby boy or girl?
I’ve said this a lot – I’m afraid to have girls! I’ve worked with kids before, and I just relate to boys better. I like their competitiveness and aggression, that’s more my style. I’m still dead set on doing whatever I can to make sure I only have boys!
Part of your success on Baby Daddy may have to do with your physique…
That is absolutely what I’m known for, and I think it’s in my contract that I have to have my shirt off every other episode. It’s funny because I actually am kind of embarrassed about it, but when I do come out of the bathroom wearing a towel for no reason (laughs) I try not to put it out there, but I work hard on looking as good as I can, and I’m young, so it’s something I guess I should be proud of.
What workout style do you prefer?
I’m definitely an outdoorsy guy. I like hiking, outdoor workouts with body weight. But when it comes to getting it done, I can just get in the gym and pound it out.
If you have only one piece of fitness advice to give, what is it?
Be persistent! No one ever regrets working out. If you make the time, you’ll be proud of yourself. You never walk out of the gym saying, “I shouldn’t have done that.”
What’s the key to being your best self?
The best piece of advice I got from my dad was, “Be the person you want to be. And if you’re not, work on it.” So attitude is everything. As long as you’re positive, and you have a goal, you’re gonna find a way to make it happen.