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The 2009 MF 25

The fittest guys in the world for 2009
 

THE SOLDIER

RUDY REYES
Age: 37
Country: U.S.A.
Career: Iraq War Vet/Actor/Trainer

"We were the tip of the tip of the spear," says Reyes of his special-forces unit, the first to invade Baghdad in 2003. Their experiences helped shape HBO's Generation Kill, the gritty Iraq war miniseries in which Reyes played himself and served as military adviser. He also trained the cast. "I forgot they were actors," he says. "I stripped them to meat and bone." Reyes pushed his co-stars several times a day, six days a week for seven months, in locations like Namibia, South Africa, and Mozambique. His philosophy eschews traditional bodybuilding techniques. "I'm more interested in real-world warrior strength," he says. "I call it combat yoga." Through body-weight circuits, kickboxing, and powerlifting (when they had access to weights), Reyes introduced the actors to the warrior mind-set. "It's a sensibility where there are no limits," he says. "It's a lifelong endeavor."

 

THE CRUSADER

PAUL RIDLEY
Age: 25
Country: U.S.A.
Career: Rower

In March, the former crew team member at Colgate University became the youngest American to row solo across the Atlantic, traveling from the Canary Islands off the coast of Africa to Antigua in the Caribbean. Inspired by the 2001 death of his mother from skin cancer, Ridley did it to raise money for cancer research through Row for Hope, his nonprofit organization (www.rowforhope.com). Ridley trained for nine months, rowing up to 10 hours a day and putting on an extra 15 pounds to make up for the 20 he'd lose during the three-month ordeal. Ridley now hopes to raise another $400,000 for the cause.

 

THE ICE MAN

SHANI DAVIS
Age: 26
Country: U.S.A.
Career: Olympic Speed Skater

At 6'2", 190 pounds, Davis is a much different athlete from the 155-pounders he usually skates against. "When I sink into the ice, it taxes my legs differently than a guy who's 5'6"," he says. That's why Davis trains so often, hitting the rink six days a week for two to four hours. He focuses on traditional leg lifts like squats and leg presses. He also calls running "fun," and says plyometrics give his muscles some "snappiness," which helps him best utilize his size. "I can carry my weight a lot easier than a smaller guy." A 2006
Olympic gold medalist, Davis has raced in short- and long-track events, though his height makes him more suited for longer distances. "People would say I'm a true all-around speed skater," says Davis. "I can do almost anything on a blade."

 

THE SKATER

BOB BURNQUIST
Age: 32
Country: Brazil
Career: Pro Skate-Boarder

"Most skateboarders only work out when they're coming back from an injury," says
Burnquist, who recently launched off his board into the Grand Canyon for a first of its kind BASE jump and continues to push the limits of Mega Ramp riding. "After a few injuries, I've taken a proactive role." The No. 1-ranked skateboarder employs bodyweight training, a medicine ball, and off-balance techniques to increase his body's awareness of space and to improve his durability.

 

THE FLY GUY

SIR RICHARD BRANSON
Age: 59
Country: United Kingdom
Career: Founder, The Virgin Group

At his age, many billionaires would be content to kick back on their private island. Not the eccentric Branson, whose passion for fitness is exuded in both his personal endeavors and business interests. In addition to kiteboarding on his Necker Island, Branson swims, skis, surfs, dogsleds, and plays tennis. The maverick also commits to physical wellness through companies like Virgin Health Miles and Virgin Active, a chain of U.K. gyms, which will soon be expanding worldwide.

 

THE REAL GUY

RICHARD ROLL
Age: 42
Country: U.S.A.
Career: Entertainment Lawyer/Producer

Some guys buy a sports car when they hit 40. Roll was 30 pounds overweight at the time, so he decided to invest in his body, instead. Two years later the Calabasas, Calif., lawyer earned the honor of being the second "Regular Joe" on the MF25. "When I turned 40, I found myself the most out of shape I'd ever been," says Roll, a former elite swimmer at Stanford. "I didn't want to live that way." He adopted a plant-based diet and used multisport training to achieve a base level of fitness. But "base" wasn't enough, so he set his sights on the 2008 Ultraman, a three-day, double Ironman distance triathlon in Hawaii. Roll began 15 to 20 hours of training per week, eliminating "anything extraneous" beyond family (he's married and has four kids) and work. He finished 11th overall in the Ultraman but first among non-pros. "Working out makes me adhere to a tight schedule," Roll says. "I'm much more productive."

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