Two Trainers Share the Drama of 'Work Out'
June 25, 2008
by Leo Buck
The Bravo reality show Work Out follows the professional and personal lives of the staff of Sky Sport & Spa in Los Angeles, overseen by gym owner Jackie Warner, who is openly lesbian. It has quickly become can’t-miss viewing for gay and lesbian audiences. Aside from all the bodaciously buff bods (many of them likewise out and proud), perhaps the reason for the program’s popularity is that so many of us spend time ourselves trying to develop the kind of awesome abs, pumped pecs and gorgeous glutes the show is famous for.
Yet surprisingly, two of the biggest reasons to tune in are heterosexual. But don’t hold that against them — not only are trainers Brian Peeler and Gregg Butler sharp, knowledgeable and pretty darn hot, they’re also eager to share who they are and what it takes to go from scrawny to brawny, or from fat to “all that.”
Three years ago, Peeler was a good ol’ boy from Salisbury, N.C. After auditioning for what he thought was a one-shot documentary, the job just happened to work into this stylish, muscle-bound melodrama.
Labeled a jock early on, he was equally at home on the football field, baseball diamond or in any type of athletic contest. Through it all, Peeler recalls, working out has always made him feel at his personal best.
Now as a top fitness trainer, what has he found to be his greatest strength? “You can have every certification in the world, but that doesn’t make you the best trainer in the world,” he said. “And I’m not saying I’m the greatest trainer in the world, but I have the ability to connect with people and to change people, and to push people. If you can’t connect with them, you’re not going to be able to push them.”
Still, being a personal trainer on a hit reality series has its own challenges, and if he’s learned anything from being on Work Out, Peeler confides, it’s been “finding out people’s true character and getting fired,” referring to when he and Wilson had a severe blow-up that caused him to leave mid-season. He compliments the producers for maintaining everyone’s integrity.
“They did no editing — what you saw in that episode is as it happened! They let the truth be the truth.”
Gregg Butler, on the other hand, first came to Hollywood to pursue a music career. Despite holding a record for power-lifting 715 pounds three years ago at a World Gym in Ohio, he says, “I fell ass-backwards into training.”
In fact, his involvement with Warner and Workout is a classic case of being in the right place at the right time. He was actually working at Sky Sport while the project was in its initial stages of development (Butler and costar Erika Jacobson have been with the company the longest). As the first season was being taped, this charismatic, dread-locked dynamo made such an impression that the producers asked him to come on board as one of Workout’s official cast members for season two.
Calling himself “cool and relaxed”, he says that the key to dealing with such high-profile success lies in sustaining a good balance.
“Whether working out, practicing or performing, I use the same approach — you show up and make it happen.”
Similarly, Butler agrees about the way each weekly segment is edited, reminding us that “they can only work with what you give them.” However, he does warn of one creative editing practice known as “Franken-bytes,” where producers may sometimes “sculpt” a situation to reflect more drama than might actually exist. He cites this last season with client Deenie and how he was originally portrayed as a tough taskmaster, then later, she was seen as being the more difficult one to work with.
Fortunately, Butler finds that the blessings he’s received from his involvement far outnumber the curses. The laid-back Cleveland native particularly enjoys the chance it’s given him to inform more people about the benefits of training.
Like Peeler, he emphasizes the vitality he gains from following his own fitness regimen: “Working out is my time to focus. It’s my time to clear my mind.” In doing so, he said, he has often had some great moments of inspiration regarding his songs — repeatedly coming up with first lines or ideas.
So what advice do these veterans have for those interested in getting in shape themselves?
“Get a trainer,” Peeler recommends. “Give it a nine-week minimum to start.”
Butler says, “Be consistent — get off that couch and try to make it to the gym three to four times a week. Also, start small with attainable goals.”
“You receive the energy you put out,” he said. To anyone reticent to begin or restart a workout program, he urges them to realize, “It’s only gonna hurt for a little while.”
Although most of the focus on the show has been to help clients slim down, Peeler also offers some down-to-earth guidance for those looking to tone up what they have or even acquire more mass onto their already slender frames: “In a natural state, were a person to pump iron, they would gain 13 to 15 pounds in a year’s time.”
Rather than resort to any illegal “muscle enhancers” like steroids, Peeler recommends working for slow and steady progress and keeping expectations realistic.
“It takes time to build muscle,” he says, adding that when all is said and done, “Nobody can stop you but you!”
After leaving Work Out so abruptly, Peeler understandably remains a bit mysterious regarding what is next. Word is, he’s pitching his own fitness program to the folks at Bravo, and other close sources insist that he shouldn’t be counted out for season four just yet.
Butler says he hopes to spend more time performing with his band, Body Karate, and “training as long as I have to.” More information regarding Butler’s training program and music can be found at www.myspace.com/greggbutler. Peeler’s Web site is www.peelerbuilt.com.
In the end, the reason both guys are so committed to what they do is best expressed by Peeler, who says, “Your body is your home. You live there. You can’t sell it, you can’t move out. … It’s important to take care of it!”