OK, so it’s pretty obvious the men of the world-famous Chippendales revue are physically fit. That their brand of eye-candy-meets-dance-meets-almost-baring-it-all has been around for 35 years speaks volumes for their appeal.
While you’d normally have to travel to the Rio All-Suites Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas to catch the show, the touring version arrives at Chicago’s House of Blues, 329 N. Dearborn, on May 22 for an 9 p.m. show.
But rather than chat about what’s in store Thursday night, I spoke to Chippendale Gavin McHale about physical fitness/eating right. McHale, who holds a degree in kinesiology and exercise science from Temple University, joined the Chippendales two years ago, after working as a professional personal trainer.
“I answered an audition call for the Chippendales on a lark and I was hired,” McHale 27, said.
Having no professional dance training on his resume wasn’t necessarily an obstacle to his success with the troupe.
“We have the best choreographers in the world, so getting the dancing routines wasn’t that difficult,” McHale said. “But I will say the first few times I went out there I definitely had stage fright. But the audiences make it very easy for us to be very comfortable up there.”
Taking nearly all his clothes off proved less intimidating than learning the steps .
“I really didn’t mind taking the clothes off. I was pretty comfortable with it,” he said. “I like showing off what I work so hard to achieve physically.”
And while you may think its’ one big strip-and-tip affair, the Chippendales present full-out choreographed/themed numbers to the biggest hits of the day. Songs such as Jason Derulo’s “Talk Dirty to Me,” Pitbull/JLo’s “On the Floor,” John Legend’s “All of Me” are all part of the current lineup for the show’s choreographed vignettes.
“I think a lot of women come to the show expecting ‘Magic Mike,’ but it’s far, far from that,” McHale said. “We don’t do ANY solo work, unless it’s one of the singers doing a song. There are no lap dances, no tipping allowed at all.”
To keep his body in shape for the shows and to maintain his overall health, McHale adheres to a rigorous training/fitness regimen whether he’s performing in Vegas or on the road.
“Wherever I go, whether I’m home in Vegas or on the road, I go outside for a run, at least 5 miles a day [he’s currently training for a Tough Mudder]. And if we don’t have weights available, I always travel with resistance bands. And of course, there’s always pushups and pullups that you can do anywhere.”
Safe to say few of us could keep up with McHale’s workouts (at least two-hours’ worth each day), but he did have some tips to help us with our overall physical fitness goals.
Cardio: “It depends what your goal is. Are you trying to lose weight? Tone? Training for a marathon? You have to decide your goal, whether it’s changing your body composition, training for a body building show, etc. They all require you to lose weight and body fat, but you need to approach it differently. In Chicago, I’d recommend that you find a year-round activity, whether it’s indoors, outdoors or both, as the weather permits, that you really love doing. Biking, running, swimming are all excellent cardio choices. If you’re training for a 5K or mini-triathlon you’re gonna want to bike, run, swim. Break it up for the week: run on Mondays, swim on Tuesdays, run on Wednesdays, bike on Thursdays, run Fridays, swim Saturdays. And be sure you allow your body enough time to rest; maybe take it easy on Sunday.”
Workouts at home: If you don’t belong to a gym, there are some really good videos on YouTube that are designed to burn calories and tone. I always just recommend that you keep moving. If you’re moving you’re burning calories. 30 minutes of an intense cardio workout at home is just as good as taking a class.
Meals: You have to take control of what you put in your body. I really recommend organic, free-range food whenever possible. And the amount of caloric intake has to be relative to your height and ideal weight. For me, I’m taking in about 3,500 calories a day right now. But I know I’ m also burning it off. And I also know it’s 3,500 good calories — protein, vegetables. Look, a 2,000-calorie-per-day program sounds like a great way to lose weight, but 2,000 calories of crap is not gonna work.
“Don’t do one big meal a day and several other smaller meals. I do three to four normal meals a day, maybe 600 to 800 calories on the plate; 60 percent protein, 30 percent fat; 10 percent carbs. Then I add protein shakes or protein bars in between.
Food choices: Eating organic, clean, food is key. Anything that grows in the earth and is not processed is the way to go. And avoid GMOs; read the labels. Avoid any foods made with by-products of corn, which are basically sugar. You can eat carbs, but make them healthy carbs, like brown rice, quinoa, the fibrous carbs you get from fruits and vegetables.
Fruits and veggies: Don’t overload on fruit. People think eating fruit all day long is a good thing, and in the right amounts fruit is great because it’s filled with antioxidants and it really takes care of your sugar cravings in a healthy way. But that doesn’t mean you eat fruit all day long especially if you’re sitting all day because you’re taking in too much sugar that you’re not burning off, and that converts to fat. Not to mention a host of other health problems.
“I’m allergic to a lot of fruits and vegetables, but my go-to choices are pineapple, blueberries and strawberries, as well as kale, broccoli, Brussels sprouts and asparagus. The green vegetables are they best for you.”
Proteins: [Free-range], organic chicken or turkey, and VERY lean beef. Any animal that’s running or swimming is what I choose. If an animal is very stationary, like cows or pigs, that’s not lean, healthy muscle they’re developing. So I avoid it. When it comes to fish, avoid farm-raised because that mean’s they’re not swimming; always make sure it’s wild. When you eat clean, you clear your body of toxins, you clear your mind and you think differently, you can even avoid being on some medications.
It’s OK to cheat: “Look, everybody needs to cheat or you’ll go insane. I cheat one day a week, not one meal a day, as a lot of people will do. Cheating actually helps you reset your leptin hormone levels. When you eat a really crappy meal once a week, say you really blow your calorie intake, if your body is really clean of toxins it won’t store that as fat, but burn it off. But don’t go crazy either with your cheating calories.”
Water: “If you’re sitting at a desk all day, you really need about a gallon of water throughout the day to flush out the toxins you accumulate. If you’re training, you’ll need a half gallon of water after you work out, then about another half gallon 30 minutes later. Then the rest of the day it’s 8 to 12-ounce glasses of water as you can. And no flavored waters.”
The skinny: “I don’t take any hormones, compounds or supplements. There’s no reason to. I eat clean and healthy and I work out daily. That’s all I need to stay fit.”