Athletes & Celebrities

No Shortcut to Fit: Donny Deutsch Gets Jacked

The media personality and ad honcho used to weigh a bloated 217 pounds. His remedy?—Attack the weights.

It's a little past noon on a Wednesday in early April. Donny Deutsch is perched behind a microphone at SiriusXM studios in Midtown Manhattan hosting his weekly live call-in radio show, Dialing Donny. “If you don’t have a guy in your life—a smart dad, boss, husband, big brother, guy best friend—that’s what I do here. We’re helping people out,” he tells his audience, before delving into topics that range from signs your partner is cheating to how parents can stay sane amid a tween’s Kardashian-worship phase.

Deutsch has had the radio gig for about a month but shows no signs of struggle throughout the hour-long broadcast. The 58-year-old opens each segment with a brief intro that includes some or all of the following info: He’s a father of three daughters (ages 29, 12, 8); he has two ex-wives; he’s a self-proclaimed feminist; he was a bigwig in the advertising game (and is chairman emeritus of his former ad agency, Deutsch Inc.); he shows up regularly on MSNBC’s Morning Joe; and he’s the star of the quasi-scripted, semi-autobiographical sitcom Donny! on the USA Network, which wrapped its first season in December. “We’re hoping for a second season,” he says of Donny!. “It’s the best thing I’ve ever done.”

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Less than an hour after he signed off the air, the Hollis Hills, Queens, native is two miles uptown, standing on the top floor of his six-story, 15,000-square-foot townhouse, repping out hammer curls in his home gym. It’s his second training session of the day.

“When I work out with my trainer, Paul Rappaport, a physical therapist by trade, our sessions usually consist of 10 minutes of stretching,10 to 15 minutes of abs and core, and about 40 minutes of weights,” Deutsch says. He saves cardio for later, using the TV as both a stopwatch and companion to pass the time. “Every day on the elliptical I watch another episode of a TV show that I’m into,” he says. “There’s so much great TV that you can binge watch. Right now I’m into Banshee, Billions, Vinyl, and Better Call Saul.”

The workout area—a converted living room that occupies the top floor, along with two bedrooms and a bathroom—holds all the tools necessary to knock out a full-body routine: multi-station home gym setup, benches, elliptical, dumbbell rack, etc. Natural light pours in from large windows stationed near the top of an arched staircase, and two large sliding glass doors open to a spacious balcony that supplies cityscape views.


Deutsch is known as a lot of things to a lot of people, but workout fiend usually isn’t one of them. To tabloid journalists, he’s easy fodder for his gregariousness and admitted affinity for the company of women (which is often portrayed as womanizing).

To artsy types, he’s a fine art connoisseur who owns an impressive contemporary collection. His home is decorated with Warhol, Basquiat, Richard Prince, Damien Hirst, and Keith Haring originals. And those are just the ones on the ground floor.

In business circles, he’s the Wharton School grad (class of 1979) who took over his father’s ad firm, David Deutsch Associates, in 1989 when it was worth an estimated $75 million and turned it into Deutsch Inc., an agency worth a reported $260 million when he sold it to Interpublic Group of Companies in 2000.

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TV buffs might recall his mug and more-salt-than-pepper hair from an assortment of projects, including appearances on The Apprentice, Today, as the host of The Big Idea with Donny Deutsch, as well as the aforementioned morning show appearances and sitcom.

To us, he’s a guy who owns a sick townhouse, a big smile, an even bigger personality, and a solid set of pipes. “Exercise is just a part of who I am at this point,” Deutsch says. “It makes me feel productive, and when you feel you are strong, you’re at your best. And that inspires every other area of your life.”

And Deutsch wasn’t afraid to use exercises as an inspiration tactic with his employees. In the ’90s when he ran the day-to-day business affairs at Deutsch Inc., the boss was known to rip off his shirt and bust out pushups during meetings to shake up a stale room.

“Oh, I used to do that all the time in the old days, before people had smartphones,” Deutsch admits. “I used to do a lot of crazy stuff to get people motivated. Anything you can do in a business environment to loosen people up, push them to the edge, and don’t give a fuck what people say—it inspires people creatively.”

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