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Given all the work he’s done behind the scenes and on the screen in Hollywood, celebrity trainer Corey Calliet hadn’t truly stopped to take in what his work meant. That was until “Creed III” earned the top spot at the box office upon its release earlier this month. The third installment in the Rocky series also became the biggest domestic opening of a sports film. It was an achievement that brought Calliet to tears.
The physiques of Michael B. Jordan and Jonathan Majors is a testament to Calliet’s work with the stars both in and out of the gym for the film. While it is hard work, it’s just another day in the life for Calliet, who practices what he preaches and teaches. Given his track record of helping transform the bodies of stars such as John Boyega, Rocsi Diaz, Jasmine Sanders, Lance Gross, Keith Powers, and more, the trainer was naturally bitten by the acting bug. He can be seen in the independent film Imani and the soon-to-be-released projects “Waterboyz” and “Apocalypse.”
Calliet spoke with M&F on working with Jordan and Jonathon Majors on the third installment in the Creed series, how his own physical transformation has helped in working with his celebrity clients, and his aspirations to become just as big of a name as one of the top draws in Hollywood.
Your work with Michael B. Jordan goes back to the “Fantastic Four.” When it came to the “Creed” series, what is the timeline when you two begin training together?
It started in 2014 when I was on the “Fantastic Four.” The day that I actually met him, I was training but no one was training with me. I decided to go up there when [actor] Jamie Bell reached out to me. He mentioned Mike would like to train because he’s getting ready for “Creed.” I went home and did my homework. I studied Apollo Creed and what that could look like for Mike being Adonis, and then we started training.
While we were training on “Fantastic Four,” I was already pre-training him for “Creed.” He was already in good shape for “Fantastic Four,” but he would have to begin looking like a boxer. Boxing, at that time, was one of my disciplines and bodybuilding, which is the transformation process. That’s something I knew I was going to be able to do. When we started getting ready for Creed, it was almost a year of getting really prepared mentally, physically, and everything that comes with portraying a boxer.
How big is the mental component in being able to achieve these physical transformations?
It’s something you go through mentally when you learn about transformation because you just can’t be robotic and do what someone tells you to. I think the mental process is actually going to change you and make you able to sustain the work and see it through because you have to build a certain strength of the mind with the consistency, work ethic, and sacrifice that comes with trying to be your best self every day in the gym and out the gym. With Michael being able to do that, he was able to take that mindset and discipline and put it into his everyday life and that’s a huge part of why he’s where he’s at right now.
With your clients, there are differences in body types, demands, and work that come with what they want to achieve. What’s the one consistent that each will go through?
Hard work! I make them go through some of the most rigorous and hard workouts that they can possibly do. If they can get through that, they can do anything. If they can go through that pain every single day and start to enjoy it—that’s when the change starts to happen. That’s been the biggest thing when it comes to all my clients. I bring them through hell first so they can attempt to get to heaven.
What are the stages in the physical transformation process?
It starts with conditioning first because I have to condition someone to last through the workouts. I have this saying and I say it a lot. You have to get in shape to get ready to train. In the beginning, it’s building their conditioning. Then you start to build the body to get the desired shape. Then I start to cut it down and make it look like art and the masterpiece that you see on the screen. I also focus on nutrition along with fitness. I have to know what’s going in your body, so I know how to change it. If I don’t know what’s going on and something changes then I can’t fix it. I have to know what’s going on from a nutritional standpoint to make the changes that I need. This helps when going through workouts because I’ll know if you have the nutrients in your body to get through a workout or if I have to tailor it back because you didn’t eat enough.
What would some typical meals for Michael and Jonathan look like?
I’ll do a typical three meals. In the morning, Mike likes lean ground turkey, eggs, and potatoes. Jonathan would have something like egg whites with either some white rice or oatmeal. Lunch would be similar. Mike would have something like a ground turkey bowl and Jonathan would have chicken, white rice, and vegetables. For dinner, Jonathan would have either steak, or he loves eating elk. Finish it off with some white rice and vegetables. For Mike, it would either be chicken or fish. Because of their different body types, I had to make sure the nutrition was on point, and I couldn’t feed them the same thing.
How has going through your own physical transformation and journey helped in the work with your clients?
I can’t make someone do something I didn’t make myself do. When I connect with people and let them know I was them at a point in time, or I was going through this at a point of time—I might be dealing with the same thing you are right now but we’re going to get through this together. I’m able to make people understand that I am you and we’re going to get through this together. People can see that it’s not a gimmick or fake. It’s real life and this real-life situation that we’re about to go through is about to change your life because it changed mine. I’m able to connect with any and everyone when it comes to fitness. What I love about fitness is the connectivity, trust, and transformation.
How has your working with the celebrities you have helped with your acting career?
Honestly, sitting back on some of these big films—I worked with Ryan Coogler and Steven Caple Jr. and I was able to see what I could do and I was able to get my feet wet with by doing “Without Remorse” and being an actual part of the cast. I was in “Creed II” but I wasn’t active in it. After “Without Remorse,” I knew I could do this. When I got on the show with Khloe Kardashian for “Revenge Body,” I saw the presence I had on television. It was something I didn’t come to Hollywood for. I want to say it fell in my lap but it fell in my lap at the right time. I was able to see I could do this.
I’m the other version of The Rock. If you look at my brand, the movies I’ve done, the auditions I go for, and what I look like every day—I lead by example and I am what I put on the screen. It was time for me to say if I can do this for them, now it’s time to do this for me. I think soon, I’m going to bring something to the camera where it’s going to make people appreciate it. They’re going to love the talent, and the look and be inspired, motivated, and happy to see me. Being around these celebrities, I had no choice. It’s like being at a pool and it’s hot and everyone else is jumping in. Then you finally get in there and you like it. It’s a blessing because I’m doing both — fitness and film. One feeds the other because you can’t have one without the other.
Has it hit you yet that you were part of a global No. 1 film?
This one’s personal. One recent morning I was on my treadmill before I had to train a client and handle other responsibilities. It was the first day that I sat back and enjoyed the moment. I had tears in my eyes when I read “Creed III” was the No. 1 movie. I’ve been training over eight years in the celebrity world. From “Star Wars,” “The Black Panther,” “Creed,” “Creed II,” “Without Remorse” and all of these big movies that I’ve helped to make big blockbusters. I cried this morning and said I was a part of making this movie No. 1. I never give myself the credit and for the first time I was able to sit back and look how far I’ve come.
God has brought me a mighty long way. People always tell me that I have to stop and smell the roses. I’ll be like the hell with those roses. I have to get other roses. It was an overwhelming feeling of joy and greatness. I come from the bottom. I’m from New Orleans, at a time when it was one of the worst places in the world to be. One of my good friends called me last night and told me that “People do not know where you come from. The ‘hood we come from, there is nowhere in the world like that, and you made it out.” I’m getting to this place now because of the work I’ve been doing on myself to live in my light. We try to focus on the dark so much because we look for empathy, sympathy, and for people to say it’s going to be OK. How about we get out of that dark and live in your light?
Even with the names you’re working with and the projects you work on, does the gravity of that not sink in because of the fact you’re going through it as opposed to observing it?
Honestly, I feel like I forget because I never want to lose myself. I’m the only person who can control whether I lose myself. I will downplay it a bit like it’s nothing. When I have my friends calling me and they’re wowed. That’s when it hits me that I’m at the top — the very top. I will go down as one of the greatest of all time in celebrity training in the movie industry. I can almost say I’m the LeBron of this. I can say that because I’m actually doing the work and continuing to do it. I try not to focus on what I’m doing because of the humility in me. But the truth is the truth, and I have to accept that.
You’ll be opening a gym later this year in Los Angeles. On top of everything you’ve been a part of, where does that rank?
It’s huge for me and I had no idea I was going to open a gym. When the opportunity fell in my lap, that’s when it hit me. Now, I’ll have a place where people can come to experience what it’s like to be around me — feel the energy, the motivation, the passion, and it gives me the opportunity to help as many people as I can. Not only will I have the gym, but I’ll probably franchise it all around the world. I want people to come into ACHV Fitness and find their best selves in all my facilities. When I realized that this was actually happening, I dived into it and realized it’s not just about having just another brick and mortar. It’s about me bringing myself to people all over the world and everyone being able to come and experience change.
What are your goals in the next five to 10 years?
I will be a working actor. You will see me up there with the guys I’ve helped put up on the screen—I can promise you that. When it comes to fitness, I will be a household name around the world—from apps to my gym. The biggest thing will be giving back to the community and working with these non-for-profits to help show young brothers like myself, who didn’t have direction or someone to look up to, that there is a way. I also want to start a family. I really believe I’m the next version of The Rock. From the philanthropy, the fitness, and films. You will not be able to go anywhere and not know the name Corey Calliet.
Follow Corey on Instagram @mrcalliet