When you're on stage wearing nothing more than a loincloth, staying trim, toned and fit is critical. So gay Atlanta fitness guru and former professional dancer Rick Twombley makes fitness his passion.
The 37-year-old fitness trainer, who moved to Atlanta three years ago, spent 20 years as a professional dancer, actor and stunt man. And while he shares his fitness secrets with clients, he's also not afraid to show off the results of his hard work in the gym. Q100's “The Bert Show” named him Atlanta's Hottest Trainer and he snagged third place in Mr. Gay World in 2010 after being named Mr. Gay Hong Kong.
Yep, this muscled professional trainer became a legal resident of Hong Kong after living there for several years.
But don't think that Twombley is all fitness all the time. He will crash on the couch for a marathon of “American Horror Story,” Bravo's “Housewives” franchise's and “Face Off” on Syfy.
“Although I am pretty hard core and intense when it comes to my job, I am actually a fairly laid-back, quirky homebody in my down time,” Twombley says.
What got you so focused on fitness?
I was always very active as a kid, then in my mid-teens I began taking ballet and contemporary jazz classes, and fell in love with dance. I quickly realized dance is one of the most rigorous, challenging and disciplined sports there is. Most people don't realize this, because the job of a dancer (at least a good dancer) is to make everything look effortless and graceful and to entertain people and transport them into another world. By the time I graduated college (where I majored in Dance and Exercise Science), I had developed the “classical” dancers body, with long, lean, toned and proportionate muscles. Dance helped me understand the importance of efficient, functional movement in terms of exercise.
My body and fitness goals were taken to the next level, though, when I worked as an aerialist with Cirque du Soleil. The sheer strength and endurance needed to hold yourself (and sometimes a partner) while soaring 30 feet over an audience, with no safety net, required a gym regiment like nothing you could believe. It wasn't long before friends and co-workers started asking for my advice in the gym, based on the results they saw me getting for myself. This training, as well as my dance background, became the foundation for the type of training I do with my clients. My workouts don't just focus on weight-loss, building huge guns or sculpting the perfect ass (although those are wonderful side-effects). I push my clients in all aspects of fitness, including power, speed, agility, balance, coordination, cardio and muscular endurance and flexibility.
The diet: Food is fuel
I eat for function, not pleasure. That's a challenge, because I'm Italian and can throw down in the kitchen with the best of them. I love pasta and bread, but I save those types of meals for special occasions and cheat days. Consistency and understanding that food is fuel is the key to maintaining your waistline, especially as you age. With very few exceptions, my breakfast is always the same (green tea, steel cut oatmeal, turkey/spinach omelette and fresh grapefruit). I snack between meals on almonds, dried fruit and jerky. My lunch is usually soup and a salad, or a sandwich on whole wheat. Dinner is chicken, vegetables or a nice lean steak and purple or sweet potatoes. If I'm in a hurry or don't want to cook, I love a Chipotle burrito bowl with brown rice, black beans and double meat.
The workout: Cardio blasters
I alternate between resistance weight training and High Intensity Interval Training. I also try to hit all muscle groups in every workout. I turn my weight training sessions into cardio blasters, as well, by taking little-to-no breaks between sets, and working on an opposing muscle group while the muscles I just work rest. (For example, superset a chest press with a straight leg dead lift, or split squats with pull-ups). Working in this fashion will efficiently burn fat while also building muscle.
Biggest challenge: Fitness with a social life
Trying to stay fit and have a fulfilling social life is a big challenge for me. I love to go out with my friends, and probably do so a little too much for my own good. But you can have a great time and still make smart decisions. For example, order your drinks with water or soda (try to avoid high-calorie, sugary mixers), drink a glass of water for each alcoholic beverage you have, and know your limits. And dance the night (and calories) away without destroying all the hard work you do in the gym.
Your motivation: A wig and a loincloth
My job as a stage performer was my main motivation for almost 20 years, especially when I originated the role of Tarzan for Disney in their stage shows in Florida, Tokyo and Hong Kong. Not only did Tarzan require extreme strength and stamina, but nothing will motivate you to have a six pack and sexy legs quicker than being in a spotlight in front of thousands of people wearing nothing but a wig and a loincloth. Now that I'm retired from that career, I've found new motivation–my clients. They inspire me every day, in so many ways. I want to be my best for them, to be a good example, and to inspire them in return.
Final fitness thoughts: Cut the excuses
We all hit walls in our lives, obstacles that seem insurmountable, and it becomes very easy to let our focus on health and fitness slip. But exercise is the best remedy for so many things — stress, depression, illness, addiction, etc. Cut short the excuses as to why you can't, and focus on why you have to! In the end, you're in control, so choose to be strong.