A few minutes with celebrity trainer Luke Zocchi is all you need to understand why the cast and crew of Thor: Ragnarok count him as one of their own. His jovial nature, superhuman strength, and sharp sense of humour wouldn’t be out of place in the hit Marvel movie.
After spending the better part of the last decade on movie sets, he’s the man behind some of Hollywood’s most impressive bodies, but the personal trainer and nutrition guru hasn’t let that go to his head. “Oh, stop it,” jokes Zocchi when complimented on his achievements.
That classicly Aussie blend of humility, hard work, and humour has underpinned Zocchi's journey to the top of the fitness industry. He set out with amateur boxing, learning about nutrition, diet and training in order to get into certain weight classes when he was fighting. It was during this period that he started training with Hemsworth, taking boxing classes and circuits, building his own career at the same time as the Hollywood heavyweight.
Zocchi’s latest triumph was training the cast and crew of arguably Marvel's greatest outing so far, Thor: Ragnarok, which has just hit digital and DVD. After a longstanding relationship with Chris Hemsworth, Zocchi also took on the task of training The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Hela (Cate Blanchett), and Kiwi director Taika Waititi (who also played the hilarious role of Korg in the movie).
“I was lucky that I knew Chris, then through that I trained Cate and it snowballed,” explained Zocchi.
Whilst muscle was the ultimate goal for Hemsworth and the lads, Luke’s focus with Thor’s villainess was to work on her combat skills. “Cate was fit, but hadn’t done boxing or strength,” says Zocchi. “Because she was doing a lot of fighting [as Hela in the movie] we did a lot of boxing to get her hand-eye coordination ready for those scenes.”
As for training Asgard’s God of Thunder and his large green mate, Zocchi insists that he never trained Hemsworth for more than an hour a day, proving that quality truly does beat quantity. And to be fair, Hemsworth’s work hours are probably a lot longer than the average bloke. According to Zocchi, he can be filming up to 14 hours a day, so efficiency in training is key for the duo.
“An hour is the max we do a day. We’ll lift at least 3-4 time a week, hitting the main muscle groups, and we try to mix it up as much as we can. We might lift for half an hour and do a 20 minute HIIT to finish, or we might do a half an hour lift session.”
An few key intense fight scenes saw Zocchi and Hemsworth take a slightly different body-building approach on this film. "With Chris on this Thor, he wanted to be big obviously, but he wanted to be more functional because he surfs, and he wanted to be big, but wanted to be able to move," explains Zocchi. This lead to the programming of increased body weight exercises, bear crawls, and more functional agility training.
Zocchi acknowledges that getting in shape is certainly a priority for movie stars, and whilst easier with dedicated personal trainers, he’s still a firm believer that the everyday man can still achieve super hero results if they’re truly committed and plan their diet.
“I honestly believe 60-70% is nutrition. If you don’t support your training with nutrition, you’re not going to see results. I’ve seen that with myself, and with Chris. There are 3 elements: training, nutrition and recovery. Nutrition is the most important one.”
Post-Ragnarok, Zocchi’s schedule doesn’t show any signs of slowing down. Following the third Thor movie, the Hemsworth entourage went straight into filming of the third Avengers movie, due out next month. Avengers 4 reshoots in Atlanta will round out the year for Zocchi, whilst the fitness mogul also builds his personal brand.
With a book on the way in November, a muscle plan based on his training with Hemsworth, and a lifestyle guide with 20 minute, functional workouts… expect to see a lot more of the man behind the Gods.
Marvel Studios’ Thor: Ragnarok is available on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital now.