No Shortcut to Fit: Donny Deutsch Gets Jacked

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.”

Donnie deutsch curl


Deutsch is 5’10”, has thick arms, broad shoulders, and a barrel chest. His current weight hovers between 174 to 183 pounds. He refers to 174 as his “optimum weight,” but he wasn’t always so svelte. Endomorphic body types like his can put on fat as easily as they can muscle. During a divorce more than two decades ago, Deutsch’s weight reached 217 pounds. That was the turning point.

“I looked at pictures of myself, and I was like, ‘Dude, when did I become this guy?” he recalls. “I didn’t like the way I looked, and I didn’t like the way I felt, so I never looked back from that day. My goal is to stay strong and lean, but my problem area, like a lot of people’s, is my midsection. I just can’t get that middle. Some things, you get to a certain age, and it just fucking is what it is.”

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After a set of EZ-bar curls, Deutsch pops a squat on a bench. He dabs his brow with a towel and chats about his diet with M&F editor in chief Shawn Perine. From the discussion, they identify two dietary challenges—his lack of fats and nightly consumption of alcohol. “I have a drink pretty much every night,” Deutsch reveals, “usually two glasses of white wine or two to three vodkas, either straight or with club soda.”

He can increase healthy fats by eating more fatty fish, oils, avocados, walnuts, flaxseeds, or chia seeds. Or by taking a fish oil supplement.

“Fats are a great source of energy. They’re important for cell signaling and gene expression involved in fat and carbohydrate metabolism and help the body absorb fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K,” says Marie Spano, R.D., a sports nutritionist for the Atlanta Hawks. “Essential fatty acids, like omega-3s, are important for skin and hair health as well as heart, brain, and eyes.”

Ditching the booze may be more impactful but also the most problematic, since Deutsch made it clear he has no interest in giving it up.

“Alcohol metabolizes quickly, even before food, so those extra calories are pretty easily stored as body fat,” Spano adds. “Alcohol dehydrates you, can impede gains in the weight room, and interrupt sleep,” she says. “At least with wines—red or white—you’re going to get some plant-based compounds, like resveratrol,” which has been known to enhance endurance and cardiac function.

The short conversation between Deutsch and Perine ended with an agreement to go into more detail over a meal (that we presume would be loaded with healthy fats).


It’s pushing 4:30 p.m., and shade has taken over most of the balcony. There’s a slight chill in the air, but Deutsch doesn’t seem to notice as he happily obliges when he’s asked to pose for our camera. He smirks for one shot, hits a biceps pose for another, scowls for a third; he’s having fun and is surprisingly spry for just having finished his second workout of the day. This type of vitality, he says, is partly due to his staff, which is made up predominantly of young, (very) attractive, and capable women.

“Whether it’s the ad business or the TV business—it’s a lot of young people,” Deutsch declares. “A lot of people, as they’re approaching 60, are at a more recessive life stage, but if you’re surrounding yourself with people in their 20s, 30s, and 40s who are still at the beginning of their arc, we tend to mentally almost have to stay sharper.”

With that, we clear the house. Although he has worked out twice, Deutsch still plans to keep his appointment with his elliptical machine. Why? Because there are no shortcuts in life, business, or in the gym.