Red Hot Calendar star Rob Smith
“I think very few people are 100% heterosexual and I think a lot of men especially keep other feelings locked up, as they fear what it means or how friends might react.”
With Marvel Studios’ latest superhero film Thor: Ragnarok hitting the big screen this month, I turned to personal trainer Ben Mudge – who’s basically mini-Thor – to ask how to get the bod of a god. And when I say “mini-Thor”, I mean… actual Thor.
Ben isn’t far off Chris Hemsworth in muscle mass and looks, but he’s also fighting a superhero battle with cystic fibrosis. I’ve been following Ben on social media for a while and I got the chance to talk to the him about how to get a god bod. Thor!
You must get people doing a double take when they pass you in the street? Yeah! I’ve actually had that more often than I would’ve thought! Two of the most memorable occasions happened in Florida and in a Tesco. I was in a shoe shop in a mall in Florida and the shop greeter said, “Damn man it’s Thor!”
And the Tesco encounter was a child with his mum who looked at me and said, “Mum look, it’s Thor!” What is it about Thor that made you want to take on the mantle as the God of Thunder? A lot of men, gay and straight, really love the character... I’ve always liked the powerhouses of both Marvel and DC, but the more I learned about Thor, the more I liked the character. He’s flawed unlike Superman, and yet he’s an absolute juggernaut of a hero. I think the fact that people said I looked like him also gave me that attachment to him as well. Did you research some of the ways Chris Hemsworth bulked up for the role of Thor? I’ve read a bit about it. I think the amount of muscle tissue he put on is achievable in that space of time to an untrained individual who’s getting paid to do such. Everyone is very quick to say it’s steroids when they see something like that. However, they don’t realise that that was his JOB to get that muscle on. He had a trainer every day sometimes twice a day, personal chefs, and a fat pay check to keep him motivated. I can only admire his drive and hard work.
OK, so how does one get the god body? I want the god body… I’ve been training now for ten-plus years – not all of them as consistent or as good in terms of optimal muscle growth – I have stuck at it though as I saw the benefits it was having to my cystic fibrosis and my confidence. As I have learned more and more about the body and training, I’ve found that there are much easier ways of going about it than I initially thought. My big focus on me and my clients is QUALITY! However, in the last few months to a year, I’ve stripped everything back to the basics in terms of my sessions and even the exercises I choose.
I’m a huge fan of full body
Rob! So you’re the model search winner for the Red Hot 2018 calendar. Congratulations! What was that journey like for you? Did it take much convincing for you to get your kit off and take part? So my mum is a redhead and first showed me the articles about the calendar a few years ago when it was starting off. I’d been following it since, and for some reason this year thought, “Fuck it!” And sent Thomas Knights an email. When he said he would like me to be involved I thought, “Oh great he wants me in the calendar,” but it turned out I first had to win a live underwear modelling competition to secure a spot! I was quite hesitant at first, but Thomas is very convincing… Eventually I told him I was keen – and then ended up winning it!
What was it like working with Thomas? Was he gentle with you? At one point Thomas said, “Look at me like you want to fuck me!” [Laughs] Does that count as gentle? Both him and Elliot James Frieze were great, as I hadn’t done anything like this before and I had no idea what to expect. Standing on a rooftop butt naked in central London while builders sarcastically wolf whistled at me was quite a baptism of fire. Elliot was really helpful with poses – it’s hard trying to look natural and relax the face, while tensing your whole body! How did you feel when you first saw the pictures of yourself? It was quite strange to see them, but I was happy with the result. I’d worked hard in the weeks leading up to it and I think they turned out well. It was quite bizarre seeing myself on the front of the Daily Star though...
The mission of Red Hot is to fight the stigma redheads face and explore their beauty and sexuality. Did you ever feel self-conscious about your hair colour when you were growing up? And do you still experience stigma in your day to day life? Well I got called “ginger pubes” before I even had pubes! [Laughs] I was fortunate enough to go to a school that resembled Hogwarts – my house colours were the same as Gryffindor and I looked rather a lot like Ron Weasley, so I got called Ron A LOT. On my first day at school an older kid come up to me and pretended to warm his hands above my head. You get stuff like that a lot as a ginger. I ended up getting blonde highlights. I had really long strawberry blonde hair for a few years, then when I was 18 I cut it all off and went back to being ginger. But by that time I was a lot bigger and a lot stronger... What’s the most bizarre thing you’ve ever heard or been told about redheads? “Ginger rage” seems to be something that everyone believes in! It’s possibly a selffulfilling prophecy, as when you tell someone they have ginger rage, it tends to make them angry – possibly even sends them in to a rage. Apparently we’re also going extinct. This won’t happen though as we’re too beautiful, so even if it is a recessive gene, we’ll just reproduce at a greater rate... [Laughs] I have no idea if that’s scientifically correct.
You’re obviously in great shape Rob so let’s talk about that! When did you first get into fitness? My dad was in the army and very good at sport, so when I was young we would always be out throwing the rugby ball around or trying to do as many push ups as possible. When I was 13 I developed an injury where I would walk with quite a big limp – basically my pelvis was twisted. I couldn’t play any sport, so I started going to the school gym when everyone else was in sport practice. The injury lasted five years, on and off, and it was very demoralising and frustrating that I couldn’t play sport. I filled the void with going to the gym and doing a lot of drama.
What’s your exercise regime or routine like now then? What’s your secret? I train heavy four times a week. This tends to include the big compound lifts like bench press, military press, deadlifts and squats. I track the weights
and reps I’m lifting in a notebook so I can always look to improve each session – of course this doesn’t always happen! I also co-run MobFit, which delivers fitness classes to employees at companies. These are quite full on and they keep me moving throughout the week. I also include ab work and intense cardio sessions probably once or twice a week.
Crikey! Do you have any tips or advice for anyone who might be thinking about taking better care of themselves? My advice to anyone getting back in to it, is master the bodyweight movements. Make sure you can do 20 push ups, make sure you can do ten pull ups, make sure you can do 50 squats, and hold a plank for minute. All with good form. This is free, and can be done anywhere. Then, I would say be very consistent and track the big lifts that I mentioned earlier. Hit them hard once a week and record your results, be consistent. But then everything else I switch up. You’ve got to keep the variety – if you don’t enjoy it, you’ll eventually stop doing it. And you can always hit me up on Instagram for some workout ideas! Artful cheap plug there, Rob. Do you ever get body-conscious? Or do you have no problem getting naked? I was quite self conscious growing up. Pale skin, moles, big nips… Part of the reason I went to the gym is because I could change the shape of my body. Nowadays, I’m not body-conscious. Part of it is because I have a good routine and eat pretty well, but also because I’m not nearly as critical of myself. If someone doesn’t like the way I look, then I really don’t care – but say it to my face, biatch!
We obviously wouldn’t change a thing about you Rob, but if you could wave a magic wand to change a part of your body, what would it be? Hmmm… My right ear is lower and sticks out more than my left. I guess I’d get that guy back in place, although my wife would be sad. Or potentially my feet. My family call them “Trog feet”, which I assume means they think they’re hideous. So perhaps those.
You’re working with the legendary gay playwright Rikki Beadle-Blair on a new film about heteroflexibility. Could you tell us a bit more about that? How did you get involved with Rikki and what’s the film exploring? Yeah, sure! I was in the National Youth Theatre in 2008 and I was lucky enough to have Rikki as my group director. Earlier this year I began writing with actor Ash Rizi who was also at NYT in Rikki’s group. We came up with this idea of two ‘straight’ guys waking up and one of them revealing that they’d drunkenly had sex the night before. They’re forced to come to terms with what it means and whether it even matters, all while trying to stop their other housemates from finding out. We wrote it as a play and presented it to Rikki and John Russell Gordon and they thought it would make a great film. So we’re looking to shoot early December and release it after Christmas! Myself and Ash will be the main guys – expect a fast paced comedy, with lots and lots of nakedness. [Laughs] I think very few people are 100% heterosexual and I think a lot of men especially keep other feelings locked up, as they fear what it means or how their friends might react. I hadn’t even come across the term heteroflexible before Rikki mentioned it!
And finally, what does it mean to you to appear in a gay magazine? It’s awesome, and flattering, I’ve been called ‘the gayest straight guy I know’ by a friend before, so perhaps it’s fitting. To be involved in something raising money for an anti-bullying charity is great, and if the best way for me to contribute is by getting my kit off for Gay Times, then that’s cool with me.
The 2018 Red Hot British Boys Calendar and Red Hot underwear are available now from redhot100.com/ shop. For more on Rob’s fitness business MobFit visit mobfit.uk. Keep up with Rob on Instagram at @whatsonrob