Michael Ryan, host of fitness show Crunch on Foxtel’s W channel, certainly knows about keeping people in shape. He is, after all, actor Hugh Jackman’s personal trainer and the man credited with whipping the star into muscled perfection for his roles in Van Helsing and X-Men 2. He’s also just been asked to work with Jackman on X-Men 3, which may be filmed in Sydney.
The pair met in the early 90s when both worked at the Mosman gym Physical Factory -“ Ryan as a trainer while Jackman was on reception trying to pay his way through university. He was pretty skinny back then. I used to call him chicken legs, Ryan recalled. I taught him how to build himself up a bit and he really enjoyed the results. When he took up acting he said if he ever became successful he’d employ me as his trainer. Then I got the call in late 2003 saying, -˜Quit your job, you’re coming to Prague.’
Ryan worked with Jackman on the set of Van Helsing in Prague for four and a half months, before going to LA with the actor for another four, then on to New York for the start of The Boy From Oz. And occasionally we’d be flying over to the UK to do re-shoots for X-Men 2, he added.
The first thing Ryan had to consider was Jackman’s diet. It was vital to get his calorie intake right and to make sure he ate five small meals a day instead of three large meals, Ryan explained.
Jackman’s training regime lasted for an hour-and-a-half every morning, sometimes starting as early as 4:30am. The workout consisted of a 20-minute warm-up session of cardio, either on machines or running outside. Then there was weight-training for 40 minutes, followed by low-intensity cardio for fat burning because it’s more important for him on movie sets to be lean, as it looks bigger on film. It’s not just about being big -“ big doesn’t show up on film. You’ve got to be ripped. They finished every session with a 10-minute stretch.
Ryan stressed this is an advanced and intense program that would be too much for someone just starting up. For beginners he suggests an hour’s workout including warm-up and stretching three times a week, so you don’t get bored.
On Crunch Ryan and his team of 10 spunky male trainers take a group of men through a range of fitness routines including everything from circuit to pilates. Ryan also gives advice on nutrition and motivation.
Crunch airs on W Monday to Friday 7am-9am, and on Saturday and Sunday 7am-8am.