This is how the 52-year-old country-music star injects fun into a vicious 90-minute sweat session he designed himself, aiming to push his own limits. “I don’t really get tired of training,” McGraw says. “There’s such a feeling of accomplishment that comes from the feeling of being my age and still being at the top of my game.”
McGraw wants you in that position, too. That’s why he’s become one of a growing number of celebrities – like Mark Wahlberg, Tom Brady and Chris Hemsworth – leveraging global stardom to build fitness and wellness brands.
McGraw creates his own workouts and partnered with exercise chain Snap Fitness to design TRUMAV, which is filled with his favourite gear (kettlebells, battle ropes). His new book, Grit & Grace: Train the Mind, Train the Body, Own Your Life, describes his late-career fitness transformation.
Eleven years and 18 kilograms ago, he realised he’d lost control of his own fitness when he starred in Four Christmases. He’d grown up playing sports, but he was up to 97kg, and his daughter Gracie noticed, saying he looked “big on the screen”. “I got out of it for a while,” he says. “I was in the prime of my career, and I wasn’t capitalising on it.” So he ditched alcohol, burgers and “truck-stop foods” and began walking in the morning.
That became a 20-minute run, and soon he was lifting weights. And he realised it was helping his music. “I use my whole body to sing – my legs, my butt,” he says. “And having more control over those things makes my voice stronger.”
He also started taking his workouts on the road. The same equipment he got for TRUMAV is always at his trailer. Hours before every concert, he works out with his band, often using moves he learned from a trainer he sometimes works with, Roger Yuan. “I’ve learned a lot over the last three or four years.”
McGraw takes pride in his transformation because it never had anything to do with the popularity contest that is celebrity. “Most things in this business are out of your control,” he says. “What the radio is going to play, how many records you’re going to sell. Control the things you can, and maybe that helps.”
None of this means McGraw (or any celeb, for that matter) should be your go-to source for gym wisdom. But there is plenty that this wave of Hollywood athleticism can help you do.
“Guys like Tim and Chris shouldn’t be viewed as fitness gurus,” says personal trainer Ebenezer Samuel. “They’ve experienced success. That’s not pushing somebody else to success. Just be inspired when you see them crush their own workouts.”
Back at TRUMAV, McGraw is crushing this workout. One moment he’s climbing up two ropes; the next he’s flipping his torso upside down on them and hoisting his legs skyward. Then he’s flipping a tractor tyre. He doesn’t slow until he begins doing burpees and push-ups.
When he’s done, he feels energised. “This workout is my meditation,” he says. “It frees things up in your head so you can get the trash out for a little while.”
Break of Brawn
In a pinch for a quick sweat? try this 20-minute basic bodyweight session, a McGraw creation. He doesn’t have a name for this one, so let’s call it “not a moment too swoon”, a play on one of McGraw’s big hits.
Directions: Warm up with 3 sets of 20 jumping jacks, resting 30 seconds between sets. Do the first set slowly, picking up speed with each set. Then work through the following circuit. Do each move for 40 seconds, then rest 20 seconds. Rest 1 minute after each round. Do 5 rounds.
Start in push-up position, hands directly below your shoulders, core tight. Bend at the elbows and shoulders, lowering until your chest is 2cm from the floor, then press back up. Too easy? After you press up, lift one hand off the floor and open into a side plank; alternate sides.
Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, core tight. Bend at the knees and push your butt back while keeping your chest up; lower until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Stand up, squeezing your glutes at the top. Too easy? Squat down until your thighs are below parallel, or shift your feet wider.
Lie on your back, feet hip-width apart, heels on the floor. Keep your chin up. Squeeze your abs and, lifting your torso from the ground, reach for the ceiling. Lower with control. Too easy? Do V-ups. Lie on your back, legs straight and arms extended. Lift your straight legs and arms, touching your hands to your toes.
“A cheeseburger is my all-time favourite. Now I try to earn it, and I’ll do a little extra work.”
Songs on your playlist?
“Usually silence, so it’s like a meditation. But I’m also kind of stuck on CNN. I’m a news junkie and usually have that on. It can be a whole other world.”
“My wife, Faith Hill! With three daughters and my schedule and her schedule, there’s a lot going on. She helps hold us all together. And she’s an awesome cook.”
“I don’t have a least favourite move, though I’d have to say leg-work isn’t my favourite. It’s mostly because I’m always trying to grow mine, and it can be hard to find the balance.”