For every Mario Lopez, there are 100 child and teen actors who never made it off the silver screen, never escaped the typecast of their first TV gig. So what made Lopez different? He took chances, did TV movies, exercise videos and reality shows. Through the downs, ups, Nips/Tucks, one constant held it together for Mario. He never lost that "wrestler's body" that made him an adolescent star. He changed over the years, adapted roles. His body and career matured together.
With maturity comes confidence. Mario took a chance, leapt off the stage on onto the set. He hosted pageants and competitions, read teleprompters and got the hang of commentary. Now, as host of Extra! on E! he can work and live the Hollywood life through the lens of celebrity news. Constant fitness was once but an asset, a single trait to this actor. Now, his physique may be his great fame claim. He is a genuine fitness machine, with perfect muscle symmetry and grappler's agility. Lopez' pep and personality make him a fine actor/TV host, but for the last 25 years, it was his fitness which allowed him to become a star.
Q&A with Super Mario
Many celebrities have written books on fitness and nutrition, and in a lot of cases, they are very hard to take seriously. You get the feeling that they are just trying to make a fast buck.
That is not the case with you at all. You have always been consistently admired for your physique, and rightfully so! It seems like you are very passionate about living a healthy lifestyle. Who was it that inspired or put you on the path to this way of life?
I have to thank my parents for making sure I was either outside playing or for putting me into sports as a kid. I wasn't one to sit around watching TV, and I'm so thankful to my parents for always encouraging me
to be active.
Over the last 30 years, obesity rates have tripled for kids. As a future father, what types of healthy values will you teach your kids?
Just to have fun, use your imagination and be competitive. Seriously, I think one of the best parts of growing up was competing with other kids and having pick-up ball games outside.
My kids will be active in one way or another, but then from an eating standpoint, they're going to learn the value of sensible portion sizes. Honestly, when you pair fun and active lifestyles with reasonable food choices, good things happen.
Millions of fans love you as super buff wrestler "AC Slater" on the hit TV series Saved by the Bell. But, truth be told, you actually did wrestle in high school. What kind of training fundamentals did you learn from wrestling, and do you still use some of that old school workout in your current routine? Wrestling definitely helped me form my foundation - a base - if you will. But I truly believe my wrestling days help me now in many ways, and not just from a physique standpoint; a kid learns what he's made of when he's down on the mat. To be honest, I'd say the intangibles are what I think about most when I remember my wrestling days.
You have been successful in a multitude of entertainment endeavors in your career,and through it all, you have always kept your body in top shape. You could probably come up with some legitimate excuses for not eating healthy or skipping a workout with the demands of your work schedule. So, what is it that inspires and drives you to want to keep taking your body to that next level when others are content to stay status quo?
You know, staying healthy is a top-of-mind thing for me. It's woven into my DNA, I guess you could say. I just feel I'm at my best at work and at play when I'm taking care of myself physically. And I'm never satisfied, I think that helps. I always want to improve and get better. Whether I'm boxing, running or lifting weights, each day I look for a challenge and get after it.
I understand you have some serious boxing skills and that you have sparred against Golden Boy Oscar De La Hoya, James Toney and Shane Mosley. What did you learn from being in the ring with these guys? Do you think you could have been a good pro boxer? Did you taste some leather?
Well, I've had the pleasure of meeting and sparring with some really special fighters.And I think what I've learned most from being in the ring with legends is that I have a lot to learn, but that's why I love sparring with people much better than me. It only helps me get better. As far as me being a pro boxer, who knows? All I know is that I love the sport.
Speaking of boxing, I know that you are an analyst for Top Rank promotions. If you don't mind being put on the spot, who do you think would win in a Manny Pacquiao vs. Floyd Mayweather fight and why?
Well, I know both of them very well, and they're probably the two best fighters out there. It's a good question ... Let's just say it would be a great fight and if it happens, I'll be ringside.
What type of music do you listen to when you work out?
I listen to all types of music, but I love 80's, hip-hop and house music.
You are considered by many to have the perfect physique. When you hit the gym, are there any body parts you work out harder because you feel they need improvement, or are you more into athletic performance?
Sure, I do body-part-specific training each week, dedicating entire sessions to, say, chest and arms, or back, but I also like to mix it up and shock my system. So yes, from one day to the next, you might find me in the squat rack working legs or in the middle of the ring sparring or swimming laps in the pool.
You look better today, in your 30s, than you did in your 20s. How has your fitness regimen changed from the past?
I'd say it's much more educated. About 5 years ago, I was introduced to fitness expert and author Jimmy Peña. Not only is Peña one of my best friends, he's taught me so much about training and nutrition. Whenever I want to get "dialed in" for a photo shoot or specific role, Peña is my only call. As you know, he and I wrote Extra Lean together, and we're so fortunate for the success and response it has received. And there's more to come with Extra Lean, so be looking out for that.
What is your fitness philosophy?
It's really kind of simple: Find something you love to do and fight to improve each day. If you love to play at it, you'll work hard at it.
Can you give us a breakdown of how many days a week you train and what forms of exercise you do on those days?
I'd say I train 6 days a week. I have to force myself to rest; probably my biggest training mistake. And like I said, I do everything. If I'm not in the weight room, I'm either sparring or swimming or taking my dog, Julio, for a run.
You have a ot of fans out there wondering what the secret to your 6-pack is.
It's really a combination of things. I do weighted abdominal moves, targeting the upper and lower abs as well as the obliques, but I also do high-rep bodyweight-type moves to fatigue. But truthfully, it all comes down to diet. Training will absolutely help develop a 6-pack, but if you're not eating clean, nobody will ever see it.
How do you fuel up before a workout?
I like to have a complex (slow-digesting) carb like oatmeal or Ezekiel bread, and a quick-digesting protein like whey about 30 minutes before I train. I don't like to be full or hungry during a training session, just satisfied.
What do you eat after you train?
After I train, I believe it's critical to refuel, so I'll hit another whey shake, but I'll hit some faster-digesting carbs to replenish my system, like a sports drink or even white bread.
You have such a busy schedule, what is a typical day of eating for you like and what do you say to those people who claim they are too busy to eat healthy?
The key to eating healthy while accomplishing your goals on a busy schedule is to always have food at-the-ready. I suggest trying to prepare food the night before and keep it with you. If entire meals are tough to prepare and carry, make sure that you have two or three easy-to-eat snacks with you throughout the day.
You have a successful book titled Extra Lean: The Fat-Burning Plan That Changes the Way You Eat For Life - What is the most important message in that book?
Thanks, yes - so excited about Extra Lean. The great thing about Extra Lean is that it helps people realize the importance of eating all kinds of foods (proteins, carbs, fats), all throughout the day. The portion sizes I want people to eat are drastically different than how they typically eat nowadays, but overeating is a major problem facing our country. And since I'm such a big foodie, I'd rather cut portion sizes than remove taste - And you really can get lean while eating delicious food.
Would you mind sharing one of your favorite healthy recipes with us?
They're all delicious, but you've got to try my fish tacos or even my chicken enchiladas. They're so good.
Thank you for the interview, it was a pleasure speaking with you, and I would like to recommend for all of our readers to go out and get a copy of Mario's new book, Extra Lean: The Fat-Burning Plan That Changes the Way You Eat For Life.