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.”

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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 red­ shop. For more on Rob’s fit­ness busi­ness MobFit visit Keep up with Rob on In­sta­gram at @what­son­rob

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