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Meet The Trainer: Harley Pasternak From ABC’s The Revolution

Written on March 7, 2012 at 12:14 pm , by

The trainer behind ABC’s newest get-fit-and-feel-gorgeous show, The Revolution, and the founder of weight-loss program 5 Factor Fitness, showed us how to get seriously toned and sleek in March’s Express Workout. Harley Pasternak, celebrity trainer to stars like Halle Barry, Hilary Duff (can’t wait to see the post-baby body he whips into shape!), Lady Gaga, Megan Fox, Amanda Seyfried, Rihanna, Jennifer Hudson and Ashley Greene (yes, the list can go on!) is the Hollywood trainer of choice for many, but you don’t have to be an A-lister to get a hot body. It’s true—try his moves and you’ll see why he’s so in demand. But first check out my one-on-one interview with Harley, then flip to page 56 of the March issue and get started. [The model is Harley's wife, Jessica! I adored her so much and we couldn't stop chatting about all things fitness, fashion and NYC during our shoot, so she answered some questions for us too!]

Was it always your dream to work with celebrities?

Not necessarily. It just kind of evolved. I was scientist, an exercise and nutritionist scientist for the Department of National Defense and I was working toward my Ph.D. I started training to put myself through school.

Harley and Jessica cozy up on the set of the March Express shoot! (Photo by Sophia Vourdoukis)

When you travel with someone, like Lady Gaga, when do you find the time to squeeze fitness into her crazy schedule?

There are two ways. First, we try to make sure people like Lady Gaga are active throughout the day. I give them a pedometer to use. And second, we try to be creative. We don’t have time to find a gym so we try to do something local to wherever we are. Say we’re in Hawaii, we go running on the beach or surfing or out on a kayak. If we’re in L.A., we’ll go hiking or if we’re in NYC, we’ll go to Central Park. As for resistance training, that becomes a challenge. I try to design equipment to travel with. One of those things evolved into the “Harley Bar.” I actually designed it to travel with Halle Berry when she was shooting Batman. I had built a mobile gym and used to travel with that, but it was huge. It was a tractor-trailer that was 53 feet long and 12 feet high. But I realized it was not really possible to do this so the Harley Bar kind of evolved out of necessity.

What’s the #1 move that every woman should be doing?

It’s called “walking.” The one thing that separates us from other countries is that those people walk everywhere. Or take the stairs. It sounds simple but all that walking adds up. As for a specific move, there isn’t just one I’d go with, total body is what you need to do.

How did your brand 5 Factor Fitness come about?

It started when Halle had to get ready to play Catwoman—lots of things start with Halle! She had lunch with Oprah and Oprah said, “You look great, you must always be in the gym.” And Halle told her, “No, I’m only working out 25 minutes a day.” Because we only had 40-minute lunch breaks during filming. So Oprah asked her, “You must be starving yourself, then?” And Halle told her, “No I’m eating five times a day too.” So actually Oprah wanted me to write a book about it. We would workout five days a week, because they film five days a week. And we’d workout during a typical 30 minute lunch break, but it was usually 25 with them. Each workout starts with cardio warm-up and then we do circuits of upper body and lower body, then abs and then a cardio cool down. All in 25 minutes.

So there were five phases per workout for five days a week. Then for the diet, there was breakfast, lunch and dinner with two snacks, which was based on the grazing versus gorging theory. So, five workouts, with five phases and five meals a day. And then, on set, there wasn’t a lot of time to prepare meals, so all the recipes take about five minutes with five ingredients…So the name 5 Factor Fitness just made sense.

I am obsessed with your 5 Factor Snack Chips—it tastes like such an indulgence! How did you do it?

When I take away things people like to eat, I have to give them an alternative. I tried to make chips with protein that are high in fiber and low in fat. A lot of the chips I saw had tons of powders added to them and they ended up just being gross. I saw people in Japan eating chips with the most incredible nutritional stats. They were made of two things—mung beans and salt. Two ingredients! What happened to the days when things were made out of simple ingredients like that? I then asked what could we do in North America to capture the nutrients inside of the chip not on top.

So I researched snacks in India and Singapore. They all used a lot of lentils to make chips like snacks. So I thought, why don’t we take a blend of the best beans and lentils and air bake them and then add the flavors that Americans love, like BBQ and sour cream and onion. And now we have something that people will like and they have 10 grams of protein and 5 grams of fiber. Plus, they’re air-baked and the portions are huge! They are 57 grams per portion versus some others that are half that.

OK, so which star would love you to give a fit-makeover to and why?

I’ve been so blessed with working with over 200 stars that at this point I find it more fascinating getting a hold of people who have significant health issues and try to help them. It’s not all about transforming the outside but fixing what’s on the inside. We blow people away with what we do to the outside but by fixing the inside, we are saving lives. For me that’s been more interesting.

Pasternak recommends inner thigh-focused moves, like this skater lunge, for women. (Photo by Jay Sullivan)

Your wife is just as into staying in shape and being healthy as you are. Do you guys work out together? If so, what’s your favorite thing to do? If not, why not?

Yeah, we workout together but we do separate workouts. I write her workouts for her. She’s in better shape then I am! When we workout we do the 5 Factor workouts but since she’s a woman, I try to make her stay away from biceps and chest and have her work on the inner thighs. [Editor's note: Why stay away from biceps you might be wondering? We'll follow up with Harley to find out!]

What fitness trend do you wish would disappear? What fitness trend do you wish people would revisit?

TV trainers. It’s a trend where all of a sudden people are getting advice from actors who are playing health care advisors. Also, kettlebells. You can’t base an entire workout around one thing. You have to use all the tools in the toolbox.

Any fitness adventures you’d love to cross off your bucket list?

Sleep! That’s something I get a lot less these days. As funny as it sounds, that’s what I need right now.

What do you hope your new show The Revolution does for viewers watching? Any touching stories you’d care to share?

I think it’s something different for each viewer but if they can get one usable tip in each episode and incorporate it into their lives to change…they don’t have to do it all once… just one small step at a time to change their life. I loved a woman we had on the show named Jenny. She was a single mom who survived cancer. It was amazing to watch her transform in real time. Her body language, her confidence—it is so contagious and it inspired me so much. All those women inspire me!

Let’s talk to Jessica, your wife, now! So, what’s is like being married to such a sought-after trainer?

Jessica: Harley is extremely knowledgeable when it comes to health, fitness and nutrition so whenever I have a question I can just go to him instead of looking it up!

Has fitness and working out always been part of your life as well or did Harley change your lifestyle?

Jessica: I’ve always loved working out and going to the gym and being healthy, so this is definitely a passion that Harley and I shared when we met. We always make time to exercise and we always try our best to eat well and make healthy decisions together in whatever we do. I do follow the 5 Factor program, however, I do work out on my own! Everyone thinks that my husband trains me, but he doesn’t!

What has Harley been able to teach you about fitness?

Jessica: Being active has just always been part of my life, but before Harley I used to run way more believe it or not! After a few minor injuries, like shin splints, Harley urged me to change up my cardio and try biking and the elliptical. At first I didn’t like any of the other machines but now I’ve come to appreciate them after switching things up.

Any fit adventures that you and Harley have done together and where would you like to go?

Jessica: Everywhere we go feels like a “fit” adventure! Whether we are racing on bikes across the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco or running up and down the Spanish Steps in Rome we’re always looking for new ways to incorporate fitness into our day. I’d like to go to Peru and climb Machu Picchu though, I hear it’s amazing!

Being married to a trainer who travels a lot, have you been on any amazing trips together?

Jessica: We have definitely been on some pretty incredible trips together but we always talk about going back to Italy. From the food, to the culture and the shopping—there’s so much to see and do! We love meandering the streets and checking out new spots we’ve discovered.

What’s your workout hell?

Jessica: Probably a long hot yoga class! I know it’s really popular, but I just can’t handle being in such a hot room for so long.

Your workout heaven?

Jessica: My heaven is probably when my workout is over and I feel good about what I’ve accomplished.

What’s in your gym bag?

Jessica: Usually my iPod, a magazine, a 5 Factor bar (Very Berry is my favorite), my new limited-edition 5 Factor New Balance sneakers [Editor's note: Find them in stores soon!] and a water bottle, those are my staples.

What have you been able to teach Harley about fitness?

Jessica: Oh man, he’s the guru. But I have gotten him to come to yoga with me and that’s something he’s not used to doing!

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