Dan chats to leading film production magazine International Connection about working with actors

Dan Roberts provides specialist personal training to help you look, move and truly embody your character. Their expertise in training actors is owed to their years of experience coaching international athletes, professional fighters and top models. They are the ‘go to’ team in London for many high-profile Hollywood movie, European cinema and West-end theatre productions.

International Connection (IC): Tell us about yourself – what was your path to becoming ‘trainer to the stars’?

Dan Roberts:It was a long road! My background is as a tennis coach back in the early 90’s, after that I retrained as a strength and conditioning coach, as I wanted to train up professional athletes. I was lucky and for about a decade I trained American footballers, Basketball players, golfers, skiers and track athletes. With this came a lot of travelling and I had stints living in New York and Sydney which I loved.

About 10 years ago I found myself living in Rio de Janeiro and I found myself training local swimwear and Victoria Secret models. In my past work, I had never actually trained people to look good, only to perform well, so it was a new experience. It was really good for my development, as well as being fun and let’s face it, good for my tan! A couple of years later I was back in London and I decided to take a 12 month break from coaching and move to Asia to study martial arts and compete as a kick-boxer.

When I came back (about 7 years ago), all of this eclectic experience together with the varied skills needed to train athletes, tone up models and knowing how to fight, made me ideal for training actors who needed to prepare for certain roles. In addition, at this time I also held columns for a few fitness magazines, whilst also being a senior lecturer to fitness companies mentoring personal trainers gaining their own new skills. This time helped me to build my reputation in the industry, which I guess was the old fashioned way before social media took on!

Fortune landed and LA based Agents, Production Companies (such as Sony pictures) and LA Celebrity Personal Trainers started to get in touch and I was recommended to train well-known actors when they were filming in London. I have to point out that was thanks to my friend Jason Walsh who was the first US trainer to really support me. Following this and over the last 7 years I’ve been lucky enough to work on several Hollywood action films, trained up Oscar winning actors and actresses, assisted on character movement on Broadway and west-end productions and assisted in fight chorography. I have to admit it’s so much fun being involved in exciting projects such as these. The celebrity side of it doesn’t do anything for me, that’s why you won’t see me a lot on Instagram pictured with clients. Ironically, I think the fact that I don’t court this ‘celeb-culture’ has probably worked in my favour with those in the entertainment industry. In the gym, we are all the same, it doesn’t matter how many Oscars, Grammy’s or palaces you own, we all sweat, have hopes, dreams and insecurities.”

IC: How do you incorporate the mind/body connection into your training?

Dan Roberts:For me exercise is inherently a mind and body activity. One’s fitness and coaching philosophy is invariably informed by one’s studies, life experience and world view. I have a deep-routed philosophical belief that the mind and body are actually one. I don’t see the body as a machine to move our brain around. Thinking, being and doing as a purely a holistic expression of self.

I lived in a Buddhist monastery for a few months when I was in my 20’s, met the Dalai Lama and got really into the Buddhist concept of Mindfulness, which I find is useful in everyday life, not just my training and coaching.”

IC: What makes working with actors different from working with musicians, sports team members, or dancers?

Dan Roberts:Generally speaking, I love working with actors as they seem to be the most curious types of people I know. Aside from that, actors, athletes, dancers and models all have to get very precise results (be they athletic, aesthetic or both) within a certain strict time period. So, in that way there isn’t actually much difference at all. Most of my clients are individuals who need fantastic results in short space of time.”

See Dan train with one of his actress clients here.

International Connection (IC): Are there any tips you can offer to performers regarding their own personal training, perhaps in terms of workout, diet, or attitude, that will help them prepare for a role?

Dan Roberts: I have many. For actors, I would I remind them that if you’re already fit on a scale of 8/10, it’s easier to get to 10/10 in 3 months for a role. Problem is, that most actors are happy at 5/10 which doesn’t give you enough time. So how you train when you don’t have role is just as important as when you have a role to prepare for, so when the role comes in you can hit the ground running!

IC: But what about behind-the-camera people, or stunt people?

I’m also a fan of doing things properly. If you want to be a great actor then you have to work harder than everyone else. Christian Bale is great example of someone who commits to something physically and his body transformations help his character development. Imagine doing batman straight after the Machinist, it’s crazy, but imagine what he must have learned about himself. You have to suffer a bit to grow! Going through transformations, learning martial arts, learning how to ride horses, dancing, doing your own stunts is all an experience and self-development. It will help you understand yourself more, which in turn helps you get emotionally connected to roles you will play. Jake Gyllenhaal is another example. He took 6 months training as boxer to play a boxer in Southpaw. It was authentic. If you’re actors, you are also an athlete, and you should think like one, train like one and live like one.

IC: How has the world of personal training changed/ evolved over the past decade?

Education | Dan Roberts GroupHollywood studios and actors used to use media friendly celeb trainers, now they are using trainers with a background working with special forces, pro fighters and Olympic athletes. It is encouraging as on the flip side the rise of fitness influencers on social media has been some what disruptive (in negative way) to the coaching industry. The tough thing about the fitness industry is that it’s not very well regulated. It is one of the reasons my company also focuses on helping other trainers. We are trying to improve industry standards by creating new advanced qualifications and courses for fitness professionals and we also mentor small businesses and personal trainers who want to success with integrity and authenticity.

IC: Where do you see personal training heading over the next 10 years?

Every industry will increasingly be effected by the rise of tech and the millennial mind-set. Generally, I think consumers are very savvy and personal trainers who don’t up their game will be left behind. This a is good thing, times are changing and the safest way to secure your career, be you a trainer or actor for example, is to be great at what you do!

IC: What are your own business goals?

As an organisation we have grown quiet a lot in the last 5 years, we have very solid and diverse specialist coaching team in London, a growing team in NYC, we offer retreats, courses, online workouts, group classes and we work on movie and TV projects all the time. Our goals for The Dan Roberts Group is to be the number one luxury wellbeing brand in the world by 2025.

Interview featured in International Connection Magazine Winter 2017 & Spring 2018. Visit our press page to view more.