We interview Gods of Egypt fitness coach Klinton Hoare about what it takes to become a God on the silver screen
It’s one thing to train someone for a mortal role and it’s quite another to train someone to look like a God. Klinton Hoare has worked as a fitness coach for over two decades, training everyone from elite Olympic athletes to celebrities.
He was also the fitness trainer for all of the leading cast on Gods of Egypt. We conversed with Klinton to find out about his career, his time on Gods of Egypt, his training techniques and his training tips.
Below you will find our interview with Klinton. Please be aware that there might be spoilers for Gods of Egypt within.
Let’s begin with how you got into fitness. We know that you have worked within the industry for over two decades, but how early in life did a passion for fitness first strike you and what spurred you to begin taking fitness seriously and considering it as a career?
At an early age I was always looking at how to excel in sports of my choice, I was big into athletics and field sports like Rugby, Soccer and Rugby League. I represented at a high level throughout my junior development years. I was always the first to training the last to leave and I just really enjoyed the pushing of individual capabilities within the physiological sphere. I was always intrigued about training and the principles involved and took inspiration from power lifting olympic lifting and every young western boys body building idol Arnold Schwarzenegger With reference to fitness it wasn’t aesthetics or the actual ‘getting the look’ that motivated me it was the training principles the methodologies the ability to work optimally within a chosen field / sport and then I loved the energy of creating an environment and soul within the training session. I had greta mentors from an early age and was exposed to some serious training environments and it was that which really excited me. As I headed towards the professional setting I realised that my best opportunity to excel within the high performance environment of sport was as a strength and conditioning coach and later a athletic performance manager, mentoring athletes to prepare and reach their peak within their sport. As a personal trainer my reputation grew through my empathy and ability to build rapport and with that trust of the client
Other than Gods of Egypt, which films have you worked on? Or which celebrities have you trained personally, outside of film projects?
I have trained a particular stunt man and body double for work within the movie industry, currently he is doing some awesome stunt gag work in the Marvel Movie Thor; Ragnarok alongside Chris Hemsworth. I was also contracted to train film producer Basil Iwanyk of We are Marshall and The Expendables, Clash of the Titans fame. Outside of this I’ve been honoured to train Australian Pop Group and Las Vegas headline act Human Nature and my twenty years within the industry has seen me prep models, world class athletes, TV personalities and soap stars alike.
Gods of Egypt is quite unique in that you were tasked with turning some actors into actual Gods, on screen. In your opinion, what physical characteristics make a physique worthy of being presented as the body of a God?
There was a need for a lot grainy muscle and a body building hypertrophy vascularity required. As “Gods of Egypt” was a production based around men of physicality and a deity that can best be defined as supremely powerful and revered, my responsibility was to deliver male actors with nearly mythological muscle. From the briefing, I realised the film required an almost “half-man, half-god” aesthetics. The women’s roles required flawlessness – in essence, a physique with perfect aesthetics. The physical areas of importance was enhancing the appearance of the arms, chest, back and shoulders, all areas I thought as a trainer we can accentuate for a film and be highlighted with lighting and camera angles. It was about combining all the elements of training into one integrated concurrent system and manipulating daily energy intake which assisting weight and body composition management.
Walk us through some of the steps that you took to get the actors who would play Gods in Gods of Egypt to that desired level of fitness. How intense were the fitness routines that you planned out for them?
Each individual actor came to me with a brief that had to be met. Big Hollywood Productions have big demands and expectations requiring big results – it’s as simple as that!
Nikolaj Coster Waldau whom played Horus – Was to present Muscular, powerful and strong in appearance. Was to portray a capability of handling any physical challenge handed to him. The aim with Nikolaj for training was to develop athleticism for fighting. Key components for this is through anaerobic and aerobic stimulus using a wide range of exercises and training principles; his routine involved multi joint multi plane functional movements through all ranges of motion because that is what fighting requires. We used Olympic style lifts mixed in with some core cross training exercises.
Yaya – Any increase in strength and size was seen as beneficial to the character to make her look physically capable and lethal. Resistance hypertrophy training was required, mainly targeting the arms and shoulder upper back region. Also conditioning the thigh and calf muscles to hold a partial static hold position to simulate riding the cobra rig. Changes in dietary requirements was a must, particularly an increase in carbohydrate intake for energy to train and protein for muscle growth and repair. Education o eating daily energy demands was essential.
Abby-Lee – was similar to Yaya however I incorporated a level of rehabilitation with reference to a pre existing knee injury so exercises where modified to suit.
Chadwick Boseman – Thoth Chadwick expressed a desire to feel light and to move freely. He had an aspiration for his look to be ‘as his role is described’. With Chadwick we focussed on body weight exercises and total body mobility movements including Pilates, Parkour Gymnastics and Yoga. Chadwick always bought great energy to his sessions and was always looking to challenge himself. The challenge as a trainers was to ensure he maintained the wiry athletic look he desired as Chadwicks genes and sporting background tended for him to add muscle quickly in the past.
For all the actors We designed the food plan or daily energy requirements and exercise program around that of elite athletes, with one crucial difference: The actors, the ‘Gods’ had to be prepared for continuous peaks, whereas athletes may only prepare to peak physically for one day or a single event. Often actors present much lighter prior to filming so the actors need to put on serious muscle mass and in a quick turnaround.
Throughout the lead-up and the filming, Actors normally train four-to-five days per week with each 1-hour session incorporating a dynamic movement component with a hypertrophy / muscle building section, coupled with a program designed for the aesthetic appearance that as a trainer you can accentuate for a film. It was about combining all the elements into one integrated training system. With my background in strength and conditioning, I knew that for the time available, we needed advanced training principles and it was crucial we utilised a concurrent system that has Actors / Actresses train all variables at the one time. This means body building, power lifting, Olympic lifting, metabolic conditioning and full body functional training. Yes each individual element, lends itself to a prioritisation system. However, I do not believe that you should drop off one aspect of your training completely, so I agree with the concurrent system approach, in which you train all variables within a training block.
The utilisation of ancient Gods in modern narratives is something that Hollywood is undertaking heavily at the moment, in Gods of Egypt and also in the upcoming TV show American Gods. What do you feel is so alluring, for audiences, about placing ancient deities in modern settings?
Perhaps we can blame the Greeks, they wrote too many epic tales featuring super humans. They left us with the idea that to attain success, you must possess the strength of Hercules, determination of Zeus or have the aesthetics of Cleopatra. Even today we retain respect for the Olympian ideal. We suspect that, somehow, we could also attain elevation to the status of deity if only we could summon enough self-discipline, self-motivation, and self focus. Unfortunately that is not a realistic take on the world we live in.
Brenton Thwaites plays a mortal in Gods of Egypt, as do various other cast members. In which ways did the training for a mortal differ from the training that you applied to those who would be playing Gods?
Brenton Thwaites whom played Bek needed to be a really athletic and dynamic guy. His ability to leap, run and roll to get himself out of tricky situations is second to none. He is fast and nimble, with excellent body control, which is learnt and honed by his upbringing and use of his surroundings everyday. The producers saw him as lean, sinewy and muscular without being excessively bulky. The training was structured around compound exercises that simulate pushing, pulling, climbing and explosive jumping, with plenty of up/down exercises that pushed lactate threshold and we made sure his training was adequately complimented by recovery methods.
How large of a role did diet and nutrition play in your training process? Was it ever difficult to get anyone to abide by a strict dietary routine?
On Gods of Egypt most actors came to the set with a clean-eating mindset. Most already understood the necessity of fuelling the body with fresh foods and macro nutrients.
So it was more about tweaking a few things to enhance what they were already doing. When your body is operating 24/7 and everything is stressed every day, the slightest change – maybe inadequate sleep or too much sodium – will show on your body and performance will suffer. It was crucial to educate the actors about when to eat: for example, To put on muscle we just upped the ante on calories and if he had a heavy lifting session they ate accordingly. Immediately post-exercise I’d encourage them to eat a ratio of 1gram of carbohydrate per kilogram of body weight complimented with .4 grams of high-quality protein per kilogram of body weight. It was also important for solid food (rather than liquid calories) to be the actors quality source of achieving energy demands, with fibre and vegetables important for satiety. In the early stages of training we looked at 1.5 -1.7grams of protein per kg of bodyweight per day dependent on muscle mass requirements of the actor. Once we built the muscle, we made some minor dietary changes for muscle definition such as decreasing protein intake down to 1.0-1.2 g.kg-1 to accentuate ones physique in the ways a role required.
But for me as a trainer, it’s always a priority to remain healthy – which can be something of a balance to master with Hollywood producers! The key is to not compromise though and achieve energy needs and these obviously vary according to body size, energy cost of training e.g. volume, frequency and intensity, changes in physique traits. Manipulating daily energy intake assist’s in weight and body composition management. Failure to achieve energy needs can affect hormonal & metabolic function, training quality, recovery throughout a training week or block and body composition. Actors were all educated on the fact to achieve an ideal physique they needed a suitably designed training program, adequate dietary protein intake, positive energy balance and continued review of their progress.
Thinking of the casual gym goer, motivation to keep up regular and continued training is something that some people struggle with. Do you have any motivational tips for forming the right state of mind when it comes to ensuring that regular training is undertaken and that a healthy diet is adhered to?
It really boils down to an intrinsic motivation. As a trainer we can inspire exercisers through external factors such as result producing programs, feedback on past and present performances, encouragement etc but each individual responds differently and what motivates and pushes me to train, may be a limiter to another person in developing action plans and initiate the action to train or adhere to a healthy eating plan.
The mantra or philosophy would be; train with intent, train with consistency, train with passion, train with an end focus – Have a goal, for a particular session, for a phase of training, for a set time and once you reach it, assess, celebrate the milestone and raise your standards to reach your next health and fitness goal. Life is meant to be lived on purpose and so should your training but remember you shouldn’t beat yourself up for missing a goal if you have done all in your control to make it happen. When you do that your sabotaging your self efficacy and in essence an essential component to accomplishing something is our confidence that we can! Make the training fun, if you’re not enjoying it your enduring it and that doesn’t create an adherence mindset.
Were you a Game of Thrones fan before working on this film? What was it like to work with Nicolaj Coster-Waldau?
No I can’t say I was. I don’t really get too much time for sitting in front of a TV and if I do it’s normally with my young children whom are into their princess movies and animations… As soon as I was contracted by Lions-gate to train Nikolaj, I ensured I was ‘all over’ his career and his work within Thrones. For me building rapport comes from genuine interest and an understanding of a persons craft or skill set etc. I even went back pre acting days to know what sports he was involved within as a young man etc.
We’re big fans of Courtney Eaton. What kind of training did you have Courtney undertake for the role of Zaya and what was she like to work with? Did she excel in any particular area of training?
Courtney is a beautiful soul and a delight to work with. She is sweet an innocent looking but don’t be fooled by this….. Courtney trains with a real intent and an unswerving commitment to work hard. She never shirked a challenge and was always looking to ‘win the workout’ each time she came into the gym, whether that be pushing an extra set out or smashing a previous best lift. Courtney bought into the program designed for her role of Zaya. We had 8 weeks pre filming and then another 5-6months whilst filming took place where we trained four-to-five days per week in a 1-hour session incorporating an athletic functional movement component into a hypertrophy / muscle building section with a focus on supersets of the upper and lower body to exasperate muscle definition, coupled with a specific program designed for the aesthetic appearance of the arms, chest, back and shoulders, areas I thought as a trainer we could accentuate for the film. We also performed boxing with Courtney as she enjoys this fitness cardiovascular hit out.
Elodie Yung starred in Daredevil Season 2 presumably not long before she starred in Gods of Egypt. Given that she played Elektra Natchious in Daredevil, we’re certain that her training for that was very rigorous and extensive. Did this have any effect on the way that you trained her for Gods of Egypt? Was she already ahead of the game?
Elodie actually came to the set carrying a pre existing injury requiring treatment for a sciatica which initially limited her movement and an ability to train with intensity. The first few weeks a big emphasis was on prehabilitation and rehabilitation exercises. Emphasis was on eliminating pain and discomfort but also strengthening Posterior Chain of Glute Maximus Hamstring complex and Glute minimus plus adductors and piriformis. After 2 weeks we commenced strength training of the upper body. Elodie’s brief was focused around Elodie’s neck line, chest region. Concern was that Elodie was to lean for the role and this was exasperated as genetically Elodie has a fast metabolism. With limited time available (Elodie came to the set later than most actors) it was hard to increase soft tissue / aesthetic appearance however, Elodie was provided with food plan to give her best opportunity to put on 2-3kg.
You’ve worked with Hollywood stunt man Ryan Tarran before, who has worked on projects such as Mad Max: Fury Road. You once described the life of a Hollywood stunt man as being brutal and akin to playing Rugby 7 days a week with little recovery in between. In which ways is your training similar and in which way does it differ from the training that a Hollywood stunt man puts themselves through?
Yes a Hollywood stunt man is certainly not a job not for the meek or faint hearted. These guys are insane. Their workload onset is brutal with reference to not only the physical but also the mental fatigue. Due to the stunt high-volume workload on the films I’ve been involved in, it is critical adequate recovery methods are in place. For me, recovery plays as vital a role as workload when it comes to performance, whether it be in the sporting domain or as a stunt man in a Hollywood blockbuster, both need to return to the training environment physically and mentally ready for the load within the next session or performing stunt gags. When I design the program for a stunt man I design it around the concepts and training methodologies of elite athletes, with one crucial difference: The actors and stunt guys and girls have to be prepared for continuous peaks, whereas athletes may only prepare to peak physically for one day or a single event or weekly games whilst the film industry is about preparing each actor to hold peak condition for five-to-six months of filming. So extensive recovery methods such as hot and cold contrasts, ice baths, compression garments, adequate sleep, movement drills, massage, are facilitated and monitored daily.
You’re currently working on Taika Waititi’s Thor: Ragnarok. Being big fans of Waititi, we cannot wait to see what he does with this. What can you tell us about your interactions with the New Zealand director? Are you a fan of his earlier films and have you seen any early cuts of Thor: Ragnarok?
I’m actually only contracted by a Stunt man and body double on the set so I’ve had no interaction with Taika.
Joe Manganiello – a big name in the fitness world – was just cast as Deathstroke in Ben Affleck’s future Batman film. How do you feel about Joe’s contributions to the fitness field and do you have an opinion on this particular casting news?
I think its an awesome fit really. Joe Maganiello for what I can gather has a a rigorous workout regimen, he has had to be studious and disciplined about his diet for past roles and he was in terrific shape for Magic Mike haha. I’d say the justice league members have a fight on their hands. Fitness has been a big part of his life and I have heard interviews where he states being in shape mentally is just as important to him physically, so I reckon he is a great ambassador and influencer within the domain of fitness.
Despite having worked within the industry for over two decades, is it safe to say that you still learn new things on each new project? Looking back on the entirety of Gods of Egypt, what’s the primary learn that you took away from your time on this film?
I have a desire to learn something new or apply a lesson learnt everyday. On the set of God’s it was no different. I was exposed to actors whom worked around the clock in preparing for their roles. The dedication, the work ethic, the commitment to be their best, day in day out was inspiring to be a part of. The 9 actors I was contracted to train were exemplary in their training ethos. The primary learn I took from the time I had on the film was that as a trainer, I am hired to get the actors ready to film at their physical best. The challenge when prepping actors for roles such as those in “Gods of Egypt” is to prepare each actor to hold peak condition for a large quantity of time. This takes extraordinary commitment and discipline from the actor and skilful programming and periodisation from the trainer. The majority of actors came into the role with reputations as hardworking, committed to their past projects and the training requirements for those roles. For me, it was about learning how to prepare each actor optimally. Which exercises and training principles would bring superior results for each individual and challenging them to “win the workout.”
We’d like to sincerely thank Klinton for taking the time to talk to us. We found his answers to be highly insightful and we’re sure that our readers did too.
GODS OF EGYPT is available on Blu-ray, 3D Blu-ray and DVD on 24th October.
Image credits: Klinton Hoare, Premier Comms, Pyramania, Summit Entertainement, Mystery Clock Cinema, TIK Films, Thunder Road Pictures