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David Moretti Life on the G List Episode 4 Gym Actor Hours


Episode Four: Gym Actor Hours

If having a ripped body is next to godliness in Los Angeles, then the gym is our house of worship. Nowhere else on earth is the pursuit of physical fitness, or at least the act of appearing to partake in it, so enshrined. For some gymgoers, working out is their daily therapy. For others, the gym is a place to cruise. For the rest, it's a place to cruise for a therapist. And I suppose for a select few, it's a place to get in shape.

It's no secret that in acting the superficial is often regarded with more reverence than talent. The profession, especially for its younger "employees," is essentially like a big high school gym class, but the prettiest kids are picked first and the runts of the litter indefinitely ride the bench. In the case of Los Angeles, riding the bench means working the counter at Cheesecake Factory, occasionally booking roles with inane lines on shows no one watches in between shifts. These roles are characterless vessels that serve only to move the lead actor from point A to point B -- sometimes literally -- like playing the getaway driver in anything featuring Steven Seagal on USA or the abused housewife's EMT when 911 arrives on the scene after her husband beats her in, well, almost any Lifetime movie. And this is the fate of the lucky ones, who actually get to call in sick to their waiting-tables job that day to go to the set. My goal is to shoot a little bit higher.

The gym is definitely an integral part of the process to move from human prop to leading man. I mean there are also things like classes, workshops, and networking, but honestly, it's L.A. My most successful friends have been discovered on subways because of their striking appearance, been thrown onto a soap opera, literally learned how to act while already in the public eye (Ashlee Simpson, anyone?), and then landed a major movie, all never having been in a class or searched for an agent. Unfortunately, that's just the nature of the biz. Take it or leave it. There's nothing worse than the actor who says "there is no artistic integrity" anymore, and the business is superficial. Really? Then go to Scranton, work as an usher in the 99-seat theater, and enjoy your totally fulfilling life of reprising Macbeth for the local retirement community. Not for me.

Not one to rock the boat, I do my push-ups, pull-ups, and curls along with the rest of the L.A. actors vying for a role as a 20-or 30-something playing teen-something on the CW. Luckily, I actually enjoy working out, as it has made a huge positive impact on my life, not to mention it can kill about two hours of my day that would otherwise be spent wondering why the hell my agent isn't calling ... ever. Win-win. If my booty is going to open the door to a career where I can actually make an impact once I get in, then who am I to judge? I mean, the opening scene of The Lair, season 3, episode 1, was my character Thom working out in a gym. Yes, vampire clubs have in-facility gyms these days, duh.

In another universe, I like to compare such a scenario to Brad Pitt in Thelma & Louise, where agreeing to be man-meat for 20 seconds in that film landed him $20 million a film a little ways down the road. And Brian Nolan is totally my Susan Sarandon. With such motivation in hand, off I go to sweat.

For us, the gym is busiest from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., or "actor hours." It's basically the one point in the day where no one with a real job works out and the gyms are full of actors and models who aren't working -- yet. It tells the world "I slept until 9:30, had my morning coffee, leisurely watched The Price Is Right and don't really have anything else to do today, so-o-o I'll work out as a means of appearing productive." The bonus is that it's great for getting in a workout in next to the prettiest people in town. However, this time frame is like Kryptonite to the rest of the industry. No-self respecting agent, manager, producer, or casting director ever sets foot in a gym during actor hours unless they have a duffel bag the size of Santa's to collect the massive amount of actor vomit (head shots, business cards, demos, dignity) that would be forced on them.

The business-minded actor, like myself, realizes this and goes early in the morning or after normal workday hours, when he or she can actually accomplish two tasks at once: (a) working out, and (b) working out next to industry professionals who just might hire him or her. You never know what can happen if you sweat on the right person. (I've yet to see Spielberg in the steam room, but rest assured if I do, he'll be sharing a bench that evening.) Also, by going to the gym later in the day, it also gives the appearance you actually may have been on a set that morning. What a thought! Again, appearance is everything on the G-list.

Regardless of the time of day you work out, the goal is to look good for your next role and maintain a shred of sanity by adding an element of routine to a life that is otherwise completely up in the air. Aside from the strategy of working out next to the right people, the greater benefit is actually personal wellness. There are far worse fates than being in an industry that forces you to be healthy to succeed -- at least, for anyone not playing a sitcom dad -- in which case being obscenely overweight lands you a hot sassy American or fiery Latina wife. Art imitating life, for sure.

On the flip side, look at Taylor Lautner gaining 20 pounds of muscle just for Twilight, or the 300 workout, which made Gerard Butler an omnisexual sex symbol. They were forced to transform their bodies into human machines, all for a film. They ate right, worked out hard, attained something close to physical perfection, and got paid very handsomely for it. Where do I sign up?

So where should one work out, and what does your gym say about you? If you prefer wearing tube socks, enjoy strip aerobics class, and have seven tattoos, just where should you go to sweat it out? Tune in for the answers next episode. To be continued ...

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