Picture this: you’re a young innovator, and you’ve found yourself at the end of the long hall that leads into the Shark Tank, a place where dreams are made and broken. Who’s the person you’d most like to make a deal with?
If you watch Shark Tank religiously, your answer is probably Robert Herjavec.
Here’s what you probably already know about Herjavec: he was born in communist Yugoslavia (now Croatia), and his family escaped to Canada when he was a child. He’s a tech entrepreneur, author, and dancer who’s widely considered the nicest shark in the tank (though one would be unwise to, as he famously once said during a negotiation, mistake his kindness for weakness).
But here’s what you probably don’t know: Beneath the jackets and button-downs he wears in the tank, the 55-year-old is in amazing shape.spoke to Herjavec to get his insights on how he became, hands-down, the fittest shark in the tank.
EXHIBIT A: HE RUNS AND LIFTS.
Herjavec hasn’t always been in great shape. “I was a rather chubby teenager and young adult,” he told. In his 30s, he says, he “was literally 20 pounds heavier than I am now.”
But he never thought he could get into better shape. “I just thought, ‘That’s the best shape I can be in.’ I used all the excuses in my mind: ‘Oh, you know, it’s a genetic thing. My mom was pretty heavy. I really can’t get into better shape.’ That became my reality, the language you use that determines your cadence in life.”
When his mother became ill, Herjavec says, everything fell into place. He decided to try making small fitness and nutrition goals for every day. He began watching what he ate. Instead of running “once in a while,” he started pounding the pavement on a daily basis. He finished his first marathon in 2009, ran the New York City marathon in 2010, and is hoping he’ll qualify for Boston one day.
But running isn’t Herjavec’s only form of exercise. “I try to do different things in order to stay highly motivated, because even the best of us can lose our motivation,” he says. He’s a big fan of cross-training: “I used to think that cardio was the only way to lose weight, but I learned over time the benefits of resistance training and lifting,” he says. “In terms of weights, I try to do natural resistance, so a lot of pull ups. Now I tend to do 6-8 exercises of 3 sets of 8-10 reps of medium weight intermixed with my cardio sessions. I work the major muscle groups by doing things like squats, push-ups, deadlifts. And I’m addicted to SoulCycle. I go at least five times per week.”
All that work has definitely paid off. You don’t need an elevator pitch to buy into this venture: at 55, the guy looks great.
EXHIBIT B: HE’S A DANCER.
Here’s something we often forget: Dancing is hard work. Sure, we can get down in the cluurb every Saturday night, but doing it on a daily basis is a huge challenge. And Herjavec says that when he was on Dancing With the Stars in 2015, the cha-cha-cha and foxtrot were bigger tests of his fitness than he’d ever thought.
When he was first asked to appear on the show, “I thought I was in great shape,” he says, laughing. But when he started DWTS rehearsals, he realized just how challenging dancing is: in fact, he lost 10 pounds within the first month.
“Dancing is the best exercise you can do. It’s constant movement and it tricks you, because you’re having fun and you don’t realize you’re working out,” Herjavec continues. “I’d never been so sore, or in better shape. My upper back, shoulders and core [had] never been more toned. I lost inches, gained muscle in my quads and glutes – it was honestly the best workout of my life.”
Herjavec’s experience on DWTS taught him an important lesson: “being fit is not just about going to the gym, lifting weights, and beating the crap out of yourself. ” (He’s absolutely right. Check out how intense a dance cardio workout can be.)
But even Herjavec says he has nothing on his wife (and former DWTS partner), dancer Kym Johnson, who is currently pregnant with twins. “Kym is so much more disciplined than I am,” he says. “[What] I’ve learned from her is in order to keep going and not get into a rut, you’ve got to vary the routine.”
EXHIBIT C: HE WATCHES WHAT HE EATS.
It’s true what they say: If you want to get healthy, you’ve got to start in the kitchen. That’s something Herjavec strongly believes. While running, dancing, and yes, SoulCycle have gotten him healthier and more energized, he credits much of his success to healthier eating.
That said, Herjavec isn’t on any particular diet. While he’s got no problem with paleo or keto, he just doesn’t have the discipline. “I love food too much,” he says. “I’ve never met a French fry I don’t like.”
Instead, he tries to avoid sugar and limits his intake of breads and starches. “When I eat out, I always try to limit myself to eating half of my plate because portion sizes are often quite large,” he says. “Kym and I tend to go to a restaurant and share a meal. I don’t drink pop…people always think dieting is about solid foods, and they’re like, ‘Oh, you know, I’m really watching what I eat,’ but they’re drinking their fourth Coke of the day.”
Herjavec’s other rule? If you have trouble with discipline, set a cut-off time.“It’s really hard when I’m out for business,” he says. “But as a general rule, I try not to eat late at night.”
“It’s more for discipline,” he adds. “There are times when I’m travelling that this can’t be avoided, but portion control is key. Also balancing your meal with water or tea is important. I can reduce late-night cravings by having hot water with lemon, or just a glass of water.”
THE VERDICT: IS ROBERT HERJAVEC SURPRISINGLY SWOLE?
True, Herjavec isn’t as jacked as our previous Men’s Health cover models. But let’s put it this way: you wouldn’t want to run into this shark in the deep water. (Don’t believe us? Check out the above Instagram from last summer at the RBC Canadian Open. Dude is also sorts of inspiration.)
One final tip from Herjavec? If you want something, you’re going to have to work on it. And that means not making excuses. “Success is rarely accidental. Success is rarely something that just shows up at your doorstep when you wake up in the morning,” he says. “You’ve got to plan it. I don’t think exercise is any different.”
In fact, whenspoke with Herjavec, he was set to fly to Atlanta the next day, so he was planning on going to the gym to run at 5:00 a.m.
“Exercise is a microcosm of life,” he says. “You’ve got to show up. It’s painful, but the pain ends and you get through it and I love that about it. It’s an opportunity every day to challenge yourself and to prove to yourself that you’re worth it and you have potential and you can achieve anything you want.”
Originally posted on menshealth.com