Plenty of Hollywood's young stars spend their mornings sleeping off last night's party. But Derek Luke, one of the stars of NBC's new hit Trauma is the kind of dude who likes to train before those guys have even had a chance to hit their alarm clocks and roll back over in bed.
"Crack of dawn, park ranger style," he told MF, laughing. "My body will tell me to go back to sleep. 'You're sore. You don't need this, just chill.' But my body is usually wrong."
Maybe his body wants to stay in bed because it knows what's in store. Luke's workouts are no morning muffin. Training with C.P.T. David Alexander, who works with UFC fighters, he does circuits of compound movements with low-rest periods two days a week. On two other days he gets outside, often before the sun comes up, for one of three different lung-busting track workouts.
"I like nature," he says, "and old-school training." Those workouts incorporate explosive movements like sprinting and speed drills that are actually more difficult for Luke than his work in the gym. "Mentally, the track challenges him more," says Alexander.
But he loves it. "Some guys show up drinking their coffee and need to be motivated," says Alexander. "But he shows up to work out. If we're starting at 8 a.m., he's there at 7:50 a.m., ready to go."
And go hard. So hard his workouts sound like something straight out of the film Friday Night Lights, where he played star running back Boobie Miles, one of his most memorable roles (he also played Diddy in Notorious).
The actor's drive is reflected in his newest role. In Trauma, Luke plays an EMT. "They're first responders, the first people on the scene in any type of tragedy," he says. Luke knows his early-morning fitness regimen is intense and unusual. But he's found peace in pushing his "flesh" (he used the word often) harder than others. "I'm used to hearing my body quit," he says, "but I can always hear my spirit telling me to go further."
Catch Trauma on NBC on Mondays at 9 p.m. EST