Hollywood and Manchester meet yet again – this time in the form of a local CEO and a big screen actor starring in blockbuster reboot Top Gun: Maverick. American actor Glen Powell appears in the film as Lt. Jake ‘Hangman’ Seresin, having previous starred in comedy-horror series Scream Queens, and the films Hidden Figures and Set It Up.
Shooting for Top Gun: Maverick began in 2018, and Glen, 33, had just seven weeks to get into incredible shape for a sequence in which he is seen with his shirt off playing American football – in homage to the iconic volleyball scene in the original Tom Cruise blockbuster.
So Glen teamed up with Ultimate Performance, who train Greater Manchester soap stars including Gemma Atkinson, Cath Tyldesley, Shayne Ward, Brooke Vincent, and Katie McGlynn. Despite being retired from personal training, the firm’s CEO, Nick Mitchell, returned to a hands on role for the film star.
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The actor wanted to reduce his body fat, build broad shoulders, a muscular chest and sport a chiselled six-pack for the sequence, and so turned to Nick. Nick founded U.P. in 2009, expanding to the point where it has 20 gyms operating in nine countries on four continents.
“The brief was to get Glen to look as good, and as lean, as possible in a very short space of time,” Nick said. “We analysed what the ‘money shot’ would be. What would make Glen pop on camera. So, we concentrated on his ‘mirror muscles’ – chest, shoulders, traps, abs.
“We couldn’t build massive muscles in just seven weeks. But, what we could do is make Glen look leaner, sharper, crisper, and give him a look of strength and power. We didn’t do any kind of body building-style leg training. Instead, we focused on strongman-type exercises, such as pushing a sled, pushing a Prowler and Farmer’s Walk to ramp up his metabolism and burn calories.
“You will always get people saying: ‘It’s easy for a pampered celebrity to get in shape.’ Don’t be stupid. Glen was part of an ensemble cast in one the biggest Hollywood films in decades, starring alongside Tom Cruise, the biggest movie star in the world. His life wasn’t his own.”
He added: “It was down to Glen to get up at 5am and lift weights. He didn’t have a personal chef, so it was down to Glen to prepare and eat the right foods. It was down to Glen to fit his training around a manic schedule of filming late into the night, reshoots, looking at scripts, learning how to fly and so on.
“And so we were always rushed. We only had three or four hours a week a week to train. But Glen is a very dopamine-driven guy that loves high energy, hard, all-out exercise. And that speaks to my soul. He went all-in, and he achieved tremendous results. It really was genuinely great fun, and a genuine pleasure, to train Glen. It was uplifting to be on the gym floor with. He is the most upbeat, positive person you’d ever wish to meet.”
Asked if he’s seen the original Top Gun film, released in 1986, Nick replied: “I’ve seen it. Look I’m 49. So, the movie came out when I was 13 or 14 years of age. I must have watched Top Gun six or seven times probably as a teenage boy. So, yes. Was it a buzz to help prepare someone for such an iconic movie with an iconic cast? Yeah, of course, it was.”
And his latest client wasn’t messing around. “[He was] Unbelievably motivated. Here is a young man on the cusp of the biggest movie break of his career, going into one of the most iconic, if not the most iconic, boys’ movie of all time. Starring opposite the biggest male movie star ever. And he’s got a very specific role.
“His role to be the cocky, brash, good looking, aspirational physique, guy who takes his top off and ‘bam’. I mean, his motivation was sky high.”
Nick has previously spoken to the Manchester Evening News about how his own journey began thanks to a very specific influence. Born in Yorkshire, the youngster set off on his fitness journey while still at grammar school.
“When I was 11-years-old, my Dad brought me back a magazine from America and on the front was Arnold Schwarzenegger in Conan The Destroyer, holding a sword with arms akimbo,” he recalled. “I looked at that and I thought ‘that’s what a man should look like.'”
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