As a nation, us Brits are obsessed with celebrity fitness. We’re constantly poring over fitspo feeds of the rich and famous, or signing up to online courses concocted by so-called celebrity fitness gurus in a bid to get a six pack in weeks.
Now, Mark Wahlberg is the latest star to reveal his daily fitness regime - and as a result, has finally put to bed the myth that celebrity fitness regimes are anything us normal folk should aspire to. The fitness industry might be booming right now, but it’s lying when it says you too can be ripped like the Boogie Nights, Transformers and Ted star.
Why? Because it’s simply not realistic or sustainable. And I should know, because I’ve been training celebrities, royals and A-list stars to be red carpet ready for more than 15 years.
Let me tell you a secret - training film stars is easy. They get paid millions for a movie, so they’ve got instant motivation. Wahlberg is currently the highest-paid actor in Hollywood, and he’s paid to have the kind of physique that mere mortals can never achieve. Hollywood is all about selling you fantasy after all. Yes, he’s a great actor, but it’s his body that really earns the big bucks - it’s what the former model is famous for.
Plus, having to stick to this kind of program is their full time job, so again, it’s non-negotiable. This was a regime Wahlberg undertook for 47 days only for a role in new film Mile 22. It would be way too unhealthy to continue it for longer - aside from the fact, the half seven curfew leaves little opportunity for quality time with his wife and family.
No normal person would willingly wake up at 2.30am to do a 95-minute workout, followed by golf and “cryo chamber recovery” all before 10.30am, followed by another hour-long workout in the afternoon unless they were being paid a fortune. No normal dad-of-four would have time and most normal folk don’t have a huge gym in their basement either.
Similarly, no normal person has access to a cryotherapy chamber, where liquid nitrogen plunges air temperature below -100C to treat muscle and joint pain. Most of us have a can of Ralgex to hand at best.
And then there’s the food intake.
Wahlberg has oats, blueberries and peanut butter for his 3.15am breakfast. Then across the morning, protein shakes, THREE turkey burgers and five pieces of sweet potato, 10 turkey meatballs, grilled chicken salad with two hard-boiled eggs, steak with green peppers at 1pm, more grilled chicken with bok choi at 3.30pm, followed by dinner of fish, veg and potatoes at 6pm. That’s seven meals a day - who has the appetite or money for that? Only an elite athlete in training could cope and it would be extremely unhealthy for anyone else.
But revealing his gruelling regime and admitting it’s not sustainable is a very honest and powerful thing to do - most celebs never really reveal what they do to get in shape as it’s often very unhealthy.
The stars on the covers of men’s health magazines don’t drink water for up to a week before shoots to achieve the required level of muscle definition and they’re photoshopped in post production anyway.
Another example. A few years back when I was an inexperienced trainer somewhat blinded by stardom, I was tasked with helping a celebrity lose four stone in three months just four weeks after she’d had a baby for a magazine photoshoot. I put her on a hugely restrictive diet and I trained her twice a day - it was an exhausting, unhealthy regime. But what the mag printed was just 20% of what she actually did. People read these articles and follow the tips to lose four stone and then wonder why the weight isn’t shifting. It’s because the articles aren’t true.
Since then, when I’ve been approached by models to get thin for shows or actors wanting to drop pounds in just a few weeks, I’ve turned them down as I won’t promote unhealthy fitness solutions.
As a society we look up to models, celebs, sports professionals and personal trainers as a marker for what we should look like, but Mark’s confession is the perfect example of the type of work it actually takes to get to that level.
And herein lies the problem with the fitness industry - it’s telling us to base our goals on images of people we can never look like, and nor should we. It’s telling us that if we look a certain way, we’ll be happier and get more likes on Instagram.
But fitness is not about looking like Wahlberg or some slender star shimmering down the red carpet in an evening gown. It should be about moving well, staying injury free, having energy and crucially, having fun and being healthy.
Fitness should always be individual to who you are and specific to your lifestyle, not just an extreme plan for a few weeks. Fitness is when you love your life and have a mind and body to cherish - not so you can impress strangers when you sit on a beach.
Celeb extreme fitness should never be anyone’s aspiration - it’s their job, and for the most part, they’re never totally honest about how they go about it.
I hope Wahlberg’s unusually open and honest account starts a conversation about the dangers of looking to celebrities when it comes to fitness inspiration.
It’s time the media and fitness industry stopped promoting body goals that are unrealistic, unsustainable and largely unachievable for the great majority of ordinary people.