One thing that’s for sure is that Superhero movies have been booming the last decade, and I for one am loving it! Being something of a nerd in this realm, I always hit up the cinema with my best friend when a new one comes out; while I’ve read comics and played Marvel/DC games ever since I was a kid, I’ve always appreciated the visceral nature of cinema and watching actors/actresses bring these incredible characters to life!
What has certainly been a talking point shrouding the popularity and [proverbial] canonization of the once “for-geeks-only” phenomenon, which has now seen even the most self-conscious jocks and bros out there turning their glances in the direction of caped-wonders, is the physical portrayal of these world-saving fictional adonises and goddesses.
Take Hugh Jackman, for example – in the early 2000’s his initial castings as Wolverine saw him looking fairly average (in terms of muscularity and athleticism), albeit relatively “rugged”. Nowadays though, and certainly since his character managed to peel away from the X-Men franchise and fly solo for an entire trilogy, he ‘suddenly’ got jacked! There has been much debate and controversy on social media regarding his ‘transformation’, but really, I would call it more of an “evolution”.
See, everyone is quick to compare his first movie [in X-Men] to his first solo movie [X-Men Origins: Wolverine], and say, ‘The dude was scrawny AF, then suddenly gets buff as a mutha-f*kca’… Uhhh, yes – he is significantly bigger than the first time he donned the claws, but NINE years passed between the making of those two movies! I don’t care how much of a “hard-gainer” you are – anyyyyone can put on twenty pounds of solid muscle in [almost] a decade, come on!
Then there was further uproar when The Wolverine came out because not only was he bigger still, but he was shredded too! Like… phenomenal shape! But again, people don’t think about how much time elapsed between movies – there were FOUR years between his first and second solo [Wolverine] movies; again, plenty of time to gradually pack on more muscle.
Of course, the media focus on the hype of the months leading up to the movie. Typically – when interviewed – Hugh (as well as Chris Hemsworth, Chris Evans, and other “stacked” actors who have portrayed some of our most beloved superheroes) will [all] talk about getting a call about ‘five months before shooting’, and that’s supposedly the time within which they’ve magically accrued their godly physiques.
‘…the costumes… back then were supposed to be more cartoon-esque in nature.’
Sorry, but that’s not the case. Yes, that five months is taken to whip their a$$es into the most stellar condition that they’ll have been in all year; however, the size they’ve amassed has been a slower and steadier process over the years. Touching on Chris Hemsworth for a sec – I remember watching him on Home & Away (a super popular Australian show that has been aired on TV [globally] for decades), and he was soooo skinny (but lean!) back then – the absolute poster-child of a hard-gainer! But again, anyone can “slap on” plenty of muscle when it’s done sensibly and with the guidance of expert Trainers over the course of years.
Now, obviously actors and actresses have been portraying [at least] the “classic” superheroes since the 1940’s – yup, a freakin’ long time! But it has only been in the last decade that their physical attributes started getting put under the microscope, and the unspoken mission of Hollywood has seemingly been to create the most “awe-inspiring” bods that they can. In a world that has become increasingly self-conscious while simultaneously exalting a false perception of beauty… The first-world’s obsession with “perfection” is something rather odious at its roots.
But let’s consider the other half of things – our amazing superwomen that have also graced our screens…
Again, like the men – if we look as far back as several decades ago – the concern waaas less related to looks, as the costumes that both the actors and actresses wore back then were supposed to be more cartoon-esque in nature.
However, I would hasten to say that the attention to “looks” was a faucet that got turned on even before the gents had to become image-conscious also. Just think of Halle Berry when she adorned the silver screen as Cat Woman – suddenly “sex appeal” was in vogue, and this set the trend for other heroines that followed.
‘… it was about demonstrating excellence in all areas…’
What’s curious though is how the media has suddenly made a big deal over Gal Gadot as the new and absolutely incredible protagonist: Wonder Woman. Although you have the likes of Jennifer Garner (in Elektra), Jennifer Lawrence (as Mystique in X-Men) and Margot Robbie (Harley Quinn in Suicide Squad), their roles [to an extent] were praised for the *character* and the look (in terms of being “edgy”), but it feels as though Gagot has been one of the first to get significant praise regarding the sheer level of conditioning she demonstrates throughout.
Of course, there’s also Scarlett Johansson (playing Black Widow in recent Marvel movies), but it’s like we’ve come to expect her to ‘just look good anyway’ – she’s [supposedly] always just been in great shape. But Gal gets more props for reasons that go beyond… She’s portraying a character whose existence/origin extends farther than the initial musings of its comic-book writer’s imagination a few decades ago; no, this ties into “mythology” that has been around for centuries – the story of the Amazonian Warriors! A pinnacle of women’s fortitude and crystal clear example of how the other half of our race can be everything that men can be in a way that still exemplifies femininity and womanliness.
Gal Gadot had to portray the “whole package” – sex appeal, grace and poise, athleticism, grit, godliness, authority, humility and power, all while holding a majestic aire about her. Much like her male counterparts – she too had to go through a gruelling almost-half-year process leading up to making the movie to ensure that she was up to par in all these areas. And she absolutely nailed it! Unlike her peers before her, it wasn’t all focused on having a sexy, rambunctious, trouble-you-wanna-find attitude, but rather, it was about demonstrating excellence in all areas – and THAT is why she has garnered the extra attention [versus her predecessors].
But okay, okay… I know – you want to know more about the *fitness* side of things, right? And more importantly, why I have the audacity to say that you’ll probably never have the physique of these super-men/women…
‘They can spend entire days [weeks & months] focusing solely on their training…’
It comes down to something that is far too simple at its core, but multi-faceted from the outside. The fact is, it comes down to: lifestyle. We do not all lead the lifestyle that warrants attaining (and maintaining) these Olympian-like bodies. While it’s [obviously] true that there are thousands of us out there who are “workout warriors” and hit the gym four, five – heck – even six times per week, and are in stunning condition… why does it just seem to pale in comparison? Because – sad as it is to acknowledge – that’s just NOT enough.
These actors and actresses – when they take on these roles (of portraying superheroes) – are upgrading their day-to-day lives to [essentially] become *athletes*!! And athletes don’t just hit the gym for an hour a day, five times per week. No. Athletes spend hoursss and hours per day dedicated to their craft. Virtually every single day! A true athlete will spend anywhere from 15-30hrs per week doing what they need to do to be the best at what they do.
I remember when I was living in South Korea several years ago (in my mid-twenties), and I was doing a *minimum* of fifteen hours a week of Martial Arts, as well as at least 3-5hrs per week hitting the gym. And that was on top of working 25-30hrs per week… I had the freedom to do this because I had virtually no other responsibilities! I was a single, eligible bachelor with no ties or commitments to anything but myself; and the whole reason why I went to Asia for a year was to spend a year focusing on ME – becoming a better version, and opening my mind to the world.
But let’s reign it back in to these actors/actresses – fact is, like me (when I was in Asia), a lot of them are single with no kids; but even those who have kids (and/or significant others), they also earn MILLIONS, and so, can afford to have these “extra responsibilities” ‘catered to’ (i.e. they can afford round-the-clock nannies/schooling, for example). Moreover, because they’re frickin’ loaded, they don’t have to worry about time vs money! They can spend entire days [weeks & months] focusing solely on their training, and it’s all gravy because they are getting paid for it…
Let me reiterate that: they get PAID to be in crazy-amazing shape! Every gruelling hour they spend getting their butts whooped by Strength & Conditioning Coaches, Martial Arts Instructors and having every aspect of their *nutrition* monitored by a Dietician/Nutritionist! Just look at Chris Pratt’s social media from his diet/training leading up to Guardians of the Galaxy: he takes a refreshingly comical approach to showing the world just how strictly he has his food monitored/measured; and of course, in a way only befitting someone as hilarious as Mr. Pratt – he shows us that even he is “only human” and will document his cheeky little moments where he totally cheats on what he *should* be eating that day!
‘… millions of people prioritize everything else in their lives…’
Consider for a moment the first part of that last paragraph: all the coaches and professionals that are in charge of every detail regarding the moulding of these actors into athletes… Can YOU afford that level of access? Some of the best people in the industry controlling not only every second of your training, but every morsel you put in your mouth?? If your answer is, ‘Yes’… Well, that’s f*cking awesome! I mean, what an immense luxury! But really, the overwhelming majority of us are gonna be saying, ‘F*ck NO!’, right? (Or is it just me!?).
Most of us are hard-working, diligent members of society that work modest jobs and earn “normal” incomes. We don’t have the money to afford more than a standard gym membership, and possibly even seeing a Personal Trainer a few times per week. And nutrition is largely hit or miss depending on your knowledge of “what is healthy”.
Added to that, the majority of people simply do NOT have the dedication to attain that level of physical performance/fitness. A lot of it also comes down to mindset. Because – truthfully – you don’t need access to a team of professionals; you can actually do plenty by yourself and/or with the assistance of just one expert/professional. But millions of people prioritize everything else in their lives, and create the illusion [to themselves and others] of ‘not having TIME or MONEY’ to do these things.
That one right there is the biggest load of B.S.!! So, you work a 9-5? That’s a 40hr work week. But the week has 168 hours… Granted, you probably want to sleep 6-8 hours per night, so that’ll be an additional 50ish hours per week. So, we sleep 50, and work 40. Let’s say you have two hours of commuting per day (Monday thru Friday); so add another 10. That’s now 100 hours. Ummm… seriously… you still have *68* HOURS in your week-to-week routine!! Okay, so there’s family time. Fine – a few hours per day, right? Okay, so that’s another 28hrs (based on FOUR per day with loved ones). You still have FORTY hours. Ohhh… wait. Getting ready in the mornings. Okay, depending on how “high maintenance” you are with your appearance, let’s add ten hours to the week for that (and that is being veryyyy liberal!). And of course, there’s going out for meals and socializing – now that’s more time annnd money right there, but do you spend 30hrs per week in bars and restaurants? (I hope not – unless you work there!)… But okay, you see where I’m going here.
See, I recently took on a new client who absolutely loved her first session with me. She told me that I taught her ten times more in one single hour than she’s ever learned from almost a DOZEN Personal Trainers before me… (That right there told me a lot!). But suddenly, she’s rescheduling. And not just for the next day, no. The following week! I’m thinking, ‘Wow! So, despite how much she KNOWS she can gain from training with me, she can’t find another single hour in her week to dedicate to getting her a$$ in the gym [whether it’s to see me or not]’. She absolutely must realign her priorities and start putting herself first – I don’t care if she is coming to train with me (i.e. paying me) or not, I just want her to put her own health first! I mean, really: just ONE hour (though even the world’s Health Authorities recommend 3-5 hours)… out of 168 in the week. To just come in and move a little. Even Barack Obama was never THAT busy!
So, the reason Why You’ll Probably Never Have the Physique of Wolverine and Wonder Woman isn’t as much to do with time OR money, but rather: mindset and priorities! You don’t have to have millions of $/£/€ in the bank. You don’t even need a gym (there’s plenty you can do at home). You DO have at least a few hours per week to train a little (you just have to stop tricking yourself into thinking otherwise); but just those few hours will not yield the results that come with training like an athlete – or in this case, a high profile actor/actress that has to spend a few hours per *day* training.
Change your mindset, re-prioritize the things in your life and put your Health & Wellness first [for once?], and maybe then you may be able to have your dream body. It is not impossible. It is absolutely achievable. And you CAN do it.
I hope this post has challenged you a little – hopefully even “provoked” you into wanting to take charge and do something to change your current situation (?) Just think of it this way: if you neglect your health then what are you left with? In ten years, twenty years… you get to a point where your health has deteriorated so much that you could wind up in an early grave! You have the power to steer your course and lead a life that sees your longevity improve (rather than decline). So, as you look up in awe at the Hugh Jackmans and Gal Gadots out there, don’t compare, just realize that you have the freedom to take control and make strides towards having a healthy and fit body that will serve you for years to come.
That’s all for today’s post – thank you for taking the time if you’ve reached this point (I know this was a fairly long one). My next post will be for CXP Nutrition where we’ll be talking about Intermittent Fasting, so stay tuned!
In the meantime, remember: Train Hard, and Train Smart!
Yours in Training,
Chris Atkinson | Master Personal Trainer, SDO