Best Fitness Guru: Harley Pasternak
Isn’t it time you finally took on the bloat that’s been dogging you since you turned 25? The one that’s been keeping you out of the water at pool parties for countless summers? The one that makes you wanna move to Portland? Sure, Portland’s an option. It’ll be great. You’re going to love Portland! All that Gore-Tex and rain ... and the Dandy Warhols. You could always get a job at Nike. It’s going to be the best thing ever! Or you could just shut up and get your fat ass in shape. I don’t care how many Silver Lake tattoos you’ve got, there’s no covering up how you really feel about the flesh sagging from your crumbling bones.
What’s it going to take for you to come correct — a heart attack? Liver transplant? What are you waiting for? It’s not like you can’t find somebody to help whip you into shape. We’re in Los Angeles, for chrissakes. This city has more fitness trainers than Skid Row has homeless people. And some of them even come from Canada.
Like Montreal refugee Harley Pasternak, who exported himself to Los Angeles about five years ago and proceeded to devour the fitness-guru competition in a single gulp. If you’re really ready to stop pretending you don’t care about how you look, nerdish stud Pasternak is the man for your reckoning.
Operating out of a private gym in WeHo (contact via his Web site for an appointment), Pasternak’s shaped a stable of able-bodied celebs, like Robert Downey Jr., Halle Berry, Jessica Simpson, Orlando Bloom, even septuagenarian fitness freak Jane Fonda. But if you book in advance, you can get on the roster, too.
I stumbled into Pasternak’s gym about two months and 10 pounds ago at 9 a.m., sipping a coffee and smoking a cigarette. An assistant named Alex, who was really nice (but I could tell thought I was a little filthy), gave me a free copy of Pasternak’s best-seller, 5-Factor Diet (a follow-up to his first book, 5-Factor Fitness), and a sugar-free Fuze to drink.
Pasternak got me through a workout, set up an ongoing routine and diet plan and helped provide me with a hopeful sense of purpose I hadn’t been acquainted with for years. I started working out a lot, and something I hadn’t anticipated happened: It worked. The fitness regime also notched up my mental clarity as a side effect. I was left wondering why it had taken me so long to get here.
Pasternak blogs on his Web site about what he’s eating. A recent breakfast was oatmeal protein porridge with some fresh berries. Lunch was a grilled turkey burger with black-bean-and-corn relish, and then later an afternoon snack with butter-bean-and-pesto dip. For dinner; a delicious chicken ropa vieja, and then a little treat, some pumpkin-ginger cookies. You can order the food for delivery off his Web site, or cook it up yourself from the recipes in his book.
Pasternak’s been on Oprah and Tyra and The Today Show and hangs out with famous people, which is fun, but it’s not celebrity that makes him so effective, nor is it his geekiness about fitness — he has a master’s degree in exercise physiology and nutritional sciences from the Univerity of Toronto. Rather, it’s that he’s a natural motivator and is really fun to hang out with. If you can just get yourself in the room with this guy for a half-hour, the process kicks in.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss LA Weekly's biggest stories.