Corey Calliet (@mrcalliet) is the personal trainer who punched up Michael B Jordan’s physique for Creed, then transformed him into a beast for last year’s Black Panther. The pair struck up a rapport when Calliet got a call from a fellow trainer to help out on Fantastic Four. Now he’s got everyone from from John Boyega to A$AP Rocky on speed dial. It’s hard to believe looking at his celebrity clients—or him—that Calliet used to be overweight.
““I was like, chubby, not fat fat,” counters Calliet, who also appears on Khloe Kardashian’s TV show Revenge Body, in which contestants turn the pain of being dumped or fired into fitspiration. Tired of “looking like a mess and feeling uncomfortable,” he made a bet with a football-playing friend that he’d train every day when he went to college. “I didn’t miss a day,” he says. “I felt like I got sick if I didn’t go to the gym. It became a part of life, like drinking water. And that’s when I fell in love with it.”
So much so that he became a competing bodybuilder; having tried to lose weight for six years, he prepped for his first show in eight weeks: “I wanted to see what it felt like to look flawless.” Bodybuilding taught him a lot, like nutritional discipline, but it was an unhealthy lifestyle that gave him body dysmorphia. He’s transformed that constant dissatisfaction into motivation. “There’s only one thing in this world that’s perfect, and that’s God,” he says. “I’m happy that I look good. But in my mind, there’s always something else to do.”
Right now, that’s making Creed II, slated for release in November. “I’m not holding back,” says Calliet. “Michael will have the best body that he’s ever had in his life. And I’m going to go down in history as the best trainer that ever trained somebody on screen. I promise.”
Here, in his own words, Calliet offers up some sound advice on how he leads his fit and healthy lifestyle — and how you can, too.
It’s a different formula depending on the person. But I always revert back to what I know from competing. I know how the nutrition is and I understand how to bring your body to a very uncomfortable place in order to actually change.
I’m back to weight training again. Now I’m in front of the camera, I’m trying to bring the best body I’ve ever had in my life this summer, so I’m locked in right now. Big time locked in.
This morning I woke up and ran two miles on the treadmill, then I ate. Then I went to choreography – we out here in Philly working on Creed II. I did some HIIT, boxed for a little bit. After that, I ate another meal. I just got home, I’m gonna take a nap, wake up, eat, go train. And then tonight I’ll do HIIT and low-intensity fat-burning cardio before I go to bed. I’m doing this every single day.
I line up some kettlebells, medicine balls, battle ropes and a couple of bodyweight exercises, and do just 30 seconds on, 30 seconds off of each. I do that for like six rounds – it comes to about 35 minutes. It’s killer, I’m not going to lie. But it’s worth it. It makes you very uncomfortable, and your body change. I don’t want to look like a stiff bodybuilder, I want to look like between an athlete and a physique competitor: that hybrid, Superman-like body.
I eat six meals a day. Right now I’m doing carbohydrates, fats and proteins for each meal, except for my last meal at night time. About 200g of carbohydrate and 250g of protein a day. I’m just trying to balance my body out, and watching it grow and change.
I have to know exactly what I’m putting in my body. I can’t just put anything in there. It’s like if you put oil into a car: you have to know how much or it’s going to spill over and then your car’s going to mess up.
Everywhere I go, I have to find food. I’m staying in a hotel, I’m going to need a microwave and refrigerator. I’ll find a meal prep company. And if not, I can always eat tuna in a can. I make it happen. I don’t let travelling be an excuse for me not to do the things I need to. Training-wise, all I need is a treadmill and some dumbbells. There are so many things I can do. But I’m going to make sure I get some type of workout in and not just be sitting down doing nothing.
I do a lot of stretching. I get a massage twice a week now, because of my body changing. Any new recovery method that comes up, I try it. I won’t try out all these new workout equipment things because I feel like I’ll hurt myself. But recovery’s recovery. It’s going to either help you a little bit or help you a lot.
I listen to motivational speaker Les Brown every morning when I wake up. When I hear him talking, I hear myself talking, and I’m able to put my mind in a more positive place. The most instrumental time of the day is first thing in the morning. If you wake up with something positive on your mind, whatever’s negative is going to be fought off.
If I don’t make my bed in the morning, I feel all over the place. I don’t know why. When I was young, my grandmother would always make me do it, and it stuck with me. I always make my bed.
I met A$AP Rocky when we were filming Creed. He was a friend of Michael’s, so he introduced me. After that we became very close and began to train. We focused a lot on nutrition and boxing. I was able to help him get his life in order. A lot of times with clients, it’s more personal than training. If I can train your mind first to be stable, functional, make right decisions and be happy and confident, then I can transfer that to your body to be able to work out. Rappers, they’re all over the place sometimes. I was a foundation, like an anchor — mentally strong and positive.
I recently trained Wale. He DM’d me on Instagram, like, “I want to work out with you.” He drove all the way to Philly from DC to train with me twice. We got so close, within two sessions, to the point that we’d talk every day about personal life and stuff like that. And then I can also help him physically at the same time.
Rappers always become really close to me. Which is cool, because a lot of these guys I was listening to before I got into training. The stuff that they rap about, I’ve been through: growing up in New Orleans in the hood and coming to where I am today, I can relate to all of that. I’m able to talk to them and give them reassurance that you can live this life and not be stressed out. I’m like a big brother, an uncle to these guys. They love being around people who are humble and understand them. I think that’s why we connect so well.
What’s on my workout playlist? A$AP Rocky, Wale, Migos, Future, Tank, Chris Brown, Meek Mill, Eric Bellinger, Torey Lanez, Lil Wayne, Drake, Travis Scott, DJ Khaled, Lil Uzi Vert, Big Sean, Rae Sremmurd, Cardi B, Tee Grizzley, Ty Dolla $ign, SZA, Kendrick Lamar, Nipsey Hussle.
Everybody was inspired by Michael’s body in Creed, because Michael didn’t have muscle before. But people don’t realise that Michael had to work out hard. Some people think that if you work out OK, it’s just going to come to you. No. It’s not like that.
After the Black Panther press tour, I was watching Hidden Figures on the plane back from London. That movie’s about black women who were a big part of history: putting the first man on the moon. Honestly, I felt real heartfelt. I was so proud to be an African-American male working on such a great movie at this time, bringing my artistic part to the screen and representing the whole culture of fitness.
For Michael’s body in Black Panther, we focused more on weight training and less on boxing and conditioning. He got strong: he was bench-pressing 115lb dumbbells. He had to be big. And in order to get big, you’ve got to lift big weights and eat a lot of food. So that’s what we were doing: eating and training, eating and training. His diet went from not really incorporating carbohydrates to incorporating a lot more. I made sure he didn’t spill over but stayed just right the entire time.
You’ve got to eat to gain or eat to lose. The food is the hardest part. But it pays off if you stick to it and stay motivated.
Always think about the end goal. Don’t think about right now. And the results are addictive. You just need to see a little bit. I remember when I first got abs: I felt my left top ab, right by my oblique. That was it. I just went crazy.
I do motivational speaking. I talk about my story. I’ve always been told that you could put me in a room with a preacher, a pimp and a prosecutor and I could relate to everybody, because of everything I’ve been through in life. I’ve dealt with so many things. And I don’t go through life with my eyes closed: I pay attention to the struggles, the losses, the ups and downs, so that I’m able to learn from them and grow. I explain to people what I went through in order to help them get through what they’re going through.
I also work with inner-city kids. This summer I’m going to do a couple of fit camps. Kids don’t play no more: they’re inside on Instagram or video games. So I’m trying to get them to go outside, be active and move around. I enjoy every minute of it.
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- Words: Jamie Millar