Set Training

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There are celebrity trainers, as in trainers who train celebrities (I am not one of them, though I run into some occasionally at my kid’s school, TV and film, A and B listers), who in the process may become celebrity themselves. And then you have the trainers who work on a set as consultants, choreographers or other short-term contract work.

With my previous career in the entertainment industry, I carry a lot of experience working on a variety of movie, or in most of my then-career, TV sets, be it live or taped events (Rose Parade Tournament of Roses, various shows for Animal Planet or Discovery channel, award shows red carpet arrivals like the Oscars or Golden Globes etc…). This comes with a clear understanding that everyone on a set has a specific job, and comes ready and prepared for it: the actor, the stuntman, the make-up artist, the camera assistants, the grips etc.

This time last year I worked on a campaign for New Era, where my job was to take pro MLB players and literally choreograph 2-3 exercises which would make sense in relation to their position on the baseball field and how they need to be conditioned, but also look cool on camera! In some cases, I didn’t even have time to prepare the athlete, warm him up to make sure they wouldn’t get injured (it was my insurance that would cover any issues, which on $20+ million dollar athletes can hurt the wallet).

I remember calling upon a friend of mine, Adam T. Glass, when I was in Florida, to potentially sub for me since my wife was due any day at the time with our second boy. Adam is a very dialed-in physical specimen, a machine of strength, recovery, movement and understanding how to take a body and take it to the next level.

We were with the Pittsburgh Pirates, and Andrew “Cutch” McCutchen was the player to work with that day. Adam and I had a few ideas that were relevant, unique, appropriate and cinematic. The funny part (to me) was when I wanted the New Era rep and “Cutch” to hear our ideas, I handed the “mic” over to Adam, as an intro. Adam went into some cool, educational explanation, but that was too much (to no fault of his, rather mine for taking for granted the needs of the crew, which I didn’t explain clearly). What the “movie” or “Hollywood” people care about is only the outcome, not the process. The athlete comes, ready, we make him look good. That’s it. Cinematic form over function and benefit.

So, for any personal trainer looking to break into the Los Angeles TV & movie industry, realize that if your calling is to help people improve, build their bodies, increase their strength, shed their weight and you’re truly about training and fitness, maybe the TV & movie industry isn’t for you. It’s almost a conflict of interest. The celebrity training part is different, because that’s just being a lucky trainer (skilled or unskilled, both exist, since movie stars tend to have won the genetic lottery and have the dedication and motivation to train most of us don’t have. They get paid to train, we pay others to train us).

And being a set trainer, as in training consultant, is a gig that is rare, freelance and you have to hustle. Unless you’re connected, you’re better focusing on a good marketing plan because you’re in charge, not hoping to get a call for a project need that may be canceled or be taken away from you because of some crew member’s cousin that landed in town and is better connected.

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