TORONTO - Harley Pasternak works behind the scenes helping to transform the physiques of Hollywood A-listers, but the Canadian fitness guru was initially reluctant to step in front of the cameras to share his expertise.
The Toronto-born Pasternak, who has worked with star clients such as Orlando Bloom, Jennifer Hudson and Lady Gaga, said he was approached by "The Biggest Loser" co-creator J.D. Roth to be a trainer on the first season of the weight-loss series, but declined.
"I just thought that the kind of fitness and weight loss that makes for good TV had to be sensational and over the top and screaming and yelling and drill sergeant, and that really wasn't me," he said in a recent interview.
However, when Roth reached out to Pasternak nine years later to discuss participating in "The Revolution," the trainer seized on the opportunity.
The series, which airs weekdays at 2 p.m. ET/MT on Citytv, features Pasternak among a team of experts from the worlds of health and wellness, style and home improvement, including Tim Gunn and Ty Pennington.
Each week, "The Revolution" also highlights one woman's personal journey with the co-hosts assisting as she makes a turnaround in multiple facets of her life.
For Pasternak, the appeal of the series was having viewers watch an on-air transformation that they could relate to and potentially adapt to their own experience.
"It wasn't about people leaving their friends and family and jobs and being on a fat farm boot camp for five months," he said. "It was about how difficult it is staying with your job and your family and taking care of your kids.
"The great things that I could teach them from knowing how to cook and grocery shop and move well are things that people watching can really use and benefit from."
Pasternak is well-known for his 5-Factor program which consists of five small meals a day and five, 25-minute workouts encompassing cardio, core and strength training exercises. The foundation for the workout and wellness philosophy he brings to "The Revolution" and his work with clients was first developed while training stars like Oscar winner Halle Berry on film sets.
"The workouts were done on 30-minute lunch breaks on film sets," he recalled. "I didn't have a lot of equipment, I didn't have a lot of space, and these people had less than 30 minutes to do a workout. So I had to create something that delivered results and did it in very little time with very little equipment."
Pasternak sees his role as finding solutions when individuals aren't reaching their goals. For example, if a client loves hamburgers, he doesn't necessarily see the answer as simply cutting the food out of their diets, but perhaps seeking a substitute or consuming smaller or healthier portions. It also involves taking a holistic view of individuals and their routines, such as determining whether they're getting enough exercise, he noted.
"Everyone's already motivated. Nobody needs to be screamed at, nobody needs to be yelled at, nobody needs to be explained what the benefits are to looking great and feeling great — everyone already knows," Pasternak said. "It's just `How can I give you the tools that you already need to build the body that you want?'"
In the case of Hudson, the Oscar and Grammy winner has previously credited her weight-loss program and Pasternak for helping achieve her slimmed-down figure.
"He was the one who started me out with walking," she said of Pasternak in a 2010 interview with The Canadian Press.
"He said, `All I need you to do is make sure you get up and you walk,' and you start that out, and also the strength training."
For his part, Pasternak said that just getting Hudson walking was tough at first. "She's so great. There's an example of somebody who really is fuelled by the results she saw."
As for individuals who may have seen their get-fit resolutions for the new year fall off the rails, Pasternak said the problem is typically trying to accomplish too much too quickly.
He recommends people take a more scaled-down approach by opting to make one small change in their routine with which they can become comfortable. Eventually, the series of adjustments compounded over time will yield results.
"Don't look at the scale (and say) `Oh, gosh, I need to lose 80, 90 pounds.' Start with one pound. Start with one change and one pound."