Massive Gains: Mike Ryan
Celebrity personal trainer Mike Ryan is a health and fitness expert that walks the walk, demonstrated by the amazing physical shape he maintains in light of his all-encompassing position as consultant to both Hollywood and Bollywood’s elite.
Mike also runs a thriving training business in California, where, in addition to his celebrity clients, he assists busy executives in getting into their best shape, by hitting the gym. He has effectively used the knowledge gained over his 25 years of experience in the health and fitness industry. The results are often seen on the big screen. Getting his start in the early 90s as a consultant to major sporting stars, Mike is an old school bodybuilder at heart. Here are some edited excerpts of our conversation with him, on his approach to getting the best results.
Tell us a bit about yourself and how did you get involved in the business of health, wellness, and personal training?
Growing up in America, there was always a fascination for sports, fitness and training. As a young boy I was very athletic and into sports. I realised that in order to train and compete at the highest levels, I needed to learn how to work out with weights. I studied anatomy, physiology, and nutrition from learned weight training experts in America. So, basically I got involved in fitness and personal training through athletics at an early age.
You have also been a model. Could you share your experience in both the modelling and fitness industry. Also, how did it begin for you?
I was actually lucky enough to be discovered while training at the gym. A famous photographer approached me and asked if I was a model. He asked to do a test shoot with me, and I submitted the photos that he had clicked to numerous fitness publications. A day later, I was called and offered the AA Marlin contract with IAS and Muscle Media publications. That was the beginning of my modelling career. I feel I’m very lucky to model in the fitness industry. Unlike most modelling gigs where health is not a concern, in fitness modelling your health and wellness is a priority.
Fitness is emerging as one of the fastest-growing segments in the healthcare sector. Do you think there is enough scope for fitness experts globally?
I have been fortunate enough to travel the world, and in those travelling experiences, I have noticed a dramatic shortage in fitness experts globally. I have been to numerous places where there is a lack of knowledge, gym equipment as well as certified trainers. I’m hoping in the near future this trend will change for the better.
We imagine training and work take up a lot of your time. What hobbies and interests do you have, to balance out your life?
I agree that being a trainer and working in the fitness industry definitely consumes a lot of my time. Whenever I get some free time to relax, I enjoy reading a good book, visiting museums, as well as local art galleries. Living on Venice beach, I see a wide arrange of graffiti artists everywhere, and it’s very cool to see their work. My other activities range from ice hockey, surfing, to basically chilling out on the beach.
Are there any precautions that should be taken while doing strenuous workouts, in order to avoid muscle injury?
Before I engage with a client, I make sure that they have been properly checked by their physician. The best way to avoid any injury while training is to have proper knowledge before you actually enter the gym. Preparation, knowledge, and leaving your ego at the door will help you enjoy fitness training for years to come.
Fitness is an integral part of our lives, and as a trainer you always have to stay at the top of your game. What major exercises would you suggest for muscle building?
When it comes to shaping one’s physique, I believe you have to train every muscle efficiently and strenuously to get the desired result. There is no specific set of exercises that you can just do. When a client engages in my services, he has to be prepared to work hard and efficiently. We aim to train everyone and anyone, with no exceptions.
What are your views on supplements? Which ones do you use?
I’m a huge fan of supplements. The thing to remember though, is that supplements are made to add to a proper diet and training regimen. I use protein shakes, multi-vitamins, and BCAA’s for connective tissue and joint repair. There are a whole host of supplements that one can try. I recommend you to first define your goal, as in what do you want to accomplish, and then proceed by using the supplements that will help you achieve those goals. Basically, supplements do work and I recommend people to try them.
Judging by your popularity, you have a physique that is in demand. How do you work on improving it consistently?
In my profession, my body is my business card. Working in Hollywood and Bollywood, my clients want to see what they can achieve, and I like to be a living example. I motivate and challenge myself daily. For me it’s an inner desire to work on perfection everyday. I try to encourage everyone I work with to do the same. To challenge yourself daily is a great goal to have.
You are a trainer to the stars, be it in Bollywood or Hollywood. What is your approach to their fitness regimen? Do you design each programme based on the individual’s personal requirements?
When I embark on a fitness journey with my clients, it is all based on one simple thing; what is the goal? Often it is a scene where you will be shirtless or showing a lot of body. So the program will be designed according to what the actor has to portray.
How was your experience training Hugh Jackman for his role in Wolverine and Dwyane “The Rock” Johnson for his onscreen roles?
I believe I’m extremely fortunate to have worked with Hollywood and Bollywood’s biggest stars. It was an amazing experience working with guys like Hugh, The Rock, Aamir Khan, Priyanka Chopra Jonas, and John Abraham as they love to engage in physical activity. They love training, and they push themselves to endless limits. Again I feel I’m blessed to work with such cool, fun and dynamic people that really make my job a blessing rather than work.
The fact that you train so hard for your physique is quite inspirational. Do you consider yourself strong-minded? How does this mindset influence your life?
Sometimes I wonder if I am strong-minded or just stubborn. Whenever I put my mind into something, I go at it at a1000 miles an hour. I take the same approach when it comes to fitness. Every time I train, I try and lift as heavy as I can, as hard as I can, with as much grit and determination as possible. I believe when my clients see me work this hard they know they can’t make any excuses or give less than a100 per cent effort. As I mentioned before, I like to lead by example.
Speaking of champions, who do you admire in the world of bodybuilding and fitness, and why?
During my fitness journey, I have come across many individuals, but my idol is Arnold Schwarzenegger. Crazily enough, we have become dear friends over the years. He has been a mentor, friend, coach and training partner. He invites me to parties, dinners, and I spend the holidays over at his house. It has been a wonderful and amazing experience for me.
What is your approach to nutrition, and how should someone struggling with muscle gain improve by eating right. Any tips?
Nutrition is a science. When you are looking to achieve physical perfection, attack your nutrition like you would with your training. Know exactly what works for you and your body type. A lot of times it will be a trial-and-error method, which can be very frustrating. Don’t quit. Find what works for you, be it high carbs, low carbs or the common no-carbs, high protein formula. Find a diet that works for you and stick to it.