Trainer-to-the-stars Harley Pasternak is responsible for some Hollywood’s most toned bodies. From Rihanna’s rock-hard abs to Kim Kardashian’s hourglass curves, the Canadian fitness guru’s roster of celebrity clients is impressive, to say the least.
After studying at the University of Western Ontario and the University of Toronto, the 39-year-old crossed the border and stepped into an impressive personal training career that includes four published books, product endorsements and countless television appearances.
To help ring in 2014 – and keep our New Year’s resolutions in check – HELLO! Online caught up with Harley for some advice on keeping your fitness goals, losing the baby weight, and how Netflix can help keep you motivated.
With the holidays now over, most people will be going on some kind of diet as part of their New Year’s resolutions. What’s the biggest mistake people make in terms of their fitness and weight loss goals?
They want to make too much of a change too quickly. It’s about making small changes. Small changes make big differences, especially when you make multiple small changes.
You might decide, “I’m going to take the stairs; I’m up four floors and I’m only going to take the stairs from now on.” That’s a great change. You might go up and down those stairs three times a day – that’s 12 stories – and that adds up. So that’s one thing. Maybe the next thing is you’re going to replace the juice you’re drinking with an actual fruit. So you take the 350-calorie orange juice and replace it with a 75-calorie orange. All these small changes add up.
So you’re not into the juicing trend that’s so popular in Hollywood now.
No. I’m quite averse to it. Most of the nutrients in fruits and vegetables are in the seeds and the skin so when you juice you are throwing away the good stuff. You’re keeping the sugar and the water, and just some nutrients. A glass of orange juice might take five oranges to make and have three, four hundred calories and no fibre, no protein and no healthy fats. So you’re missing all the food groups. Whereas if you eat an orange, you’ve got 75 to 80 calories that might actually fill you up for an hour.
We at HELLO! love our glowing mother-to-be celebrities, and 2013 was a big year for the royals – Kate Middleton gave birth, as well as the Princess of Monaco. Do you have any advice for new moms?
Yeah! My wife is actually seven months pregnant. And Megan Fox, who is a client.
Is Megan Fox still working out? Has it changed the routine?
Absolutely, she’s still working out. The routine hasn’t changed though. The only thing that changes is after the second trimester, when you can't do any exercises that are hard on your back and your heart rate can't get above 140. You want to stay in a well ventilated room and stay well hydrated. But otherwise, she still works out with us with her husband Brian.
Do you recommend your star couples to work out together?
I think it’s great! We train Rick Fox and Eliza Dushku together. We train John Mayer and Katy Perry together. We’ve worked out with Kanye West and Kim Kardashian together.
What’s the best advice to bounce back once the baby’s come?
Depending on how your delivery was, you can start walking pretty much as soon as you’ve given birth. And you can start eating well immediately. So just start with those, and gradually increase your walking – use your pedometer. Once you get medical clearance you can start resistance exercise, but definitely walk walk walk walk walk!
We heard there’s one piece of technology you’ve started incorporating into your workouts. Tell us about how Netflix can help people get fit.
One of the roadblocks that people have when it comes to exercise is boredom. So I started using Netflix at my studio, where I would actually tell my clients to log on to Netflix and make their list of 20, 30 films that they’ve always wanted to watch and we would slowly knock off their list over time and in the process they would get into fantastic shape!
So that makes Netflix a great tool to make people do exercise for a reason other than just exercise itself, and that’s to be entertained.
What are some of your favourite shows to exercise to?
Oh I’ve watched all the Netflix originals – House of Cards, Orange is the New Black. I’m an Arrested Development fanatic. When they came out with the new season last year I watched it all in a row. And then I watch New Girl. I watched all the seasons of Gossip Girl – the best shape I’ve ever been in is when I got addicted to Gossip Girl!
And because Netflix has no commercials – commercials tends to be a potential time of boredom when you can be like, "Ok I’ve had enough of this," and you get off – because it doesn’t have commercials, your attention is really consistently focused on the entertainment part of the exercise.
It must be useful for celebrities who don’t have a lot of spare time.
Yes. They’re constantly busy and travelling, and aren’t able to tune in at 7 pm Tuesday nights for their favourite show because they don’t have a traditional 9 to 5 job.
What’s it like to work with big celebrity clients? Is there more pressure?
Technically speaking, it’s exactly the same as working with someone not in the entertainment industry.
But from a practical perspective, if they don’t look good, you don’t look good. And if they do look good, you get lots of credit so the reward is extraordinarily high.
They also have very little time, so you really need to be as efficient as you possibly can. And their careers are significantly impacted by how they look, unlike my other clients who are not in the entertainment industry. A lawyer will not necessarily be a more successful lawyer because they’re three pounds lighter.
What is the number one thing that a star client might come asking you for that a lawyer might not?
They want to look great on film. Depending on their role they might have a role where they have sex scenes and they’re naked – a lawyer probably just wants to look good in a suit!
Harley Pasternak’s Body Reset Diet Cookbook will be available exclusively in Canada in April.