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NBC’s ‘Strong’ Fitness Trainer Chris Ryan Dishes Out Tips on Getting Your Girlfriend to Join You in the Gym

The MEN'S FITNESS model brings serious strength to the masses on the reality weight loss show, and has some advice for you, too.

If the guy pictured on this page looks familiar, it’s because he’s been showing Men’s Fitness readers how to work out for the past five years. A New York City–based personal trainer and former sprinter for the U. of Florida, Ryan, 35, is one of our favorite workout-models and has also appeared—with and without a shirt—for Hugo Boss, Cybex, and Nike. And, since April, he’s been starring in NBC’s fitness reality show Strong. Ryan took a break from being beautiful long enough to answer a few questions about the show and offer some smart tips on how to get your girlfriend to join you in the gym.

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How is Strong different from other weight-loss reality shows?
We have 10 everyday women from different walks of life who are trying to improve themselves both physically and mentally. They each get a trainer—I’m one of them—and they compete on various physical challenges. The Biggest Loser is all about weight loss, but Strong is about being the fittest you can be. We want to promote the fitness lifestyle, not so much the weight loss or the look.

Good. We’re tired of seeing celebrities promising quick-fix fitness solutions.
Don’t worry. Gabrielle Reece is the host. She’s been a poster girl for health and fitness for 20 years, and you probably had her picture up on your wall in your college dorm. [Laughs] Gabi’s husband is [surfing legend] Laird Hamilton, who even makes a guest appearance.

I think this show’s going to speak to America in general. I think it’s gotten too acceptable for everybody to be overweight. It’s not about looking 
like a magazine cover model. It’s about figuring out how to be fitter so you can live a better life overall for you and your family. These women are going to be better mothers now that they can be more active with their kids. They’ll be more confident with their husbands now that they’re not afraid to be seen naked.

So how did you train your client on the show?
Programming was tricky. I needed to get her to build muscle, but I also had to take into account the physical challenges Gabi had in store for her, which were designed to test her mentally. It was like training an athlete during the season. 

Basically, it looked like the training from Rocky IV. [Laughs] We did all the big barbell movements as well as mobility and balance control with single-leg exercises. We did intervals on the track and running in the pool. We didn’t do any new-age workouts. I simply trained her the way I train myself and my other clients, which has always yielded amazing results.

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Any advice for guys on getting their girlfriends to train?
Make it fun. Guys tend to care more about numbers and adding weight, but women want to have fun with whatever they’re doing. Guys are like, “I benched 300 today,” but women don’t give a shit. 

What’s your own regimen like now as a family man?
My son, Achilles, is 14 months old, and my wife is pregnant with our second child. She’s still a full-time attorney, and I’m a full-time trainer, so I’ll train for 45 minutes when I can get it in. I squat heavy once a week, press, and do either Romanian deadlifts or traditional deadlifts. And I do snatch complexes for conditioning. 

I also do one major running workout a week. I’ll sprint 45 to 90 seconds on an inclined treadmill and repeat for eight reps or so.

Watch Strong on Thursdays at 8 p.m. on NBC.

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