Move over, Suzanne Somers. Thighmaster Kevin Csatlos is here.
Move over, Suzanne Somers. Thighmaster Kevin Csatlos is here.
Emily Piraino

Muscle Bound

It's been three weeks since your New Year's resolutions should have kicked in, and you're still working your way through that box of peppermint bark in the freezer. You've decided that the minute you run out of eggnog, you'll really get going on eating right. And why waste a good stollen? As soon as it's gone, you'll dig in and start looking for those ab muscles you've always wanted.

Uh-huh. Me, too. Except that the truth is we'll never trade Reese's Pieces for broccoli; we won't suddenly find the ability or desire to exercise -- not even in this week's Resolution Guide. We'd sooner give up oxygen than our space on the couch, where we clutch the remote and a crumpled box of Bugles, and the only squats we're going to do will take place in front of the fridge, because it's the best way to see what's way in the back on the bottom shelf.

If only we lived in the proper zip code, Kevin Csatlos might be able to help us. Csatlos has been assisting flabby, lazy rich people to get into shape for years with his Premiere Mobile Gym service. But in spite of his big, friendly personality, it sounds like Csatlos might just drive right past those of us with less than a six-figure income. Which means we'll never get our pants buttoned this year; we'll never be invited to any A-list party. Maybe we should have resolved to make more money this year, so we can get a really cool trainer to help us ditch some pounds. Meantime, there's comfort to be had from Pepperidge Farms Milanos. Also that new caramel-flavored ice cream shake at Jack in the Box. And Marshmallow Peeps has just announced three new flavors. We'll exercise next year.

New Times: Let me guess: You used to get sand kicked in your face. Then one day . . .

Kevin Csatlos: Sort of like that. When I was a kid, I had a real unflattering body. I was the one who got kicked around and pushed off his bike and never got picked in gym class.

NT: I can't imagine what that was like. Were you a fat kid?

Csatlos: No, just God-awful skinny. My hips were wider than my shoulders, and I never had a body or the willpower to do anything about it. But I went to Vietnam, and then I became a biker when I got out, so I just about killed myself by doing horrible things to my body.

NT: You mean like tattoos?

Csatlos: No, I mean like [mistreating] my liver. I mean a couple of bad accidents on my bike. I had one accident, and I had just started lifting weights at home a little before that, and the doctor said that all that saved me was that I had a little extra muscle on me.

NT: Muscles saved your life.

Csatlos: Literally. And I've devoted my life to them.

NT: I read where some of your clients include members of the Royal Family. I wasn't aware they lived in the Valley.

Csatlos: I know. I've been putting together a book about all my wacky clients here. It's so hilarious. And one of them was the Saudi Royal Family when they came through town. This guy with a British accent called and said, "My boss would like to work out with you." I thought it had to be Prince Charles or Lady Di or something.

NT: Neither of whom appear to be working out much these days.

Csatlos: Right. So I went down there, and this guy finally makes his grand entrance in his white robes and whatever that thing is they wear on their heads. He climbs onto the stair-stepper, and his robe is catching on his heels, and I'm thinking, Take the robe off, you're gonna injure yourself. Then I get a mental picture of this guy in a Speedo and a headdress and sandals, and I think, Never mind. But this guy was in bad shape.

NT: Well, if you're wearing a robe all day, who cares what you look like underneath? Okay, here's the deal: Exercise is boring.

Csatlos: I think that's a good part of why I do this. There are probably 2,000 ways to exercise, but they only work if you stick with them. You don't need to go skipping through the daisies enjoying your workout, but a good trainer can make it fun.

NT: Wouldn't it be easier to just not put the weight on in the first place?

Csatlos: Amen. The way you look is one thing, but it's how you feel once you start that's most important. Working out is more about improving your health.

NT: Uh-huh. Except that most people do it because they want to look groovy. You know it, and I know it. And whatever the reason for exercise, here's something that never changes: You wake up the next morning and you can't move. Which sucks.

Csatlos: (Laughing.) Well, it depends on your fitness level going in. And just because your trainer has big muscles doesn't mean he knows what he's doing. You can't take someone who hasn't exercised in a year and start slamming them against a wall. You gotta put kid gloves on when you're starting out.

NT: Wouldn't it be easier to just take steroids?

Csatlos: Of course. And even if you're training poorly, on steroids, you'll still put on some muscle. Quickly! If that's all you want to do.

NT: That's my plan: steroids, liposuction, and one of those Suzanne Somers Ab-Buster thingies.

Csatlos: Unfortunately, people want to believe they can lose the eight or 10 pounds they gained over the holidays by just rubbing some piece of plastic between their legs for five minutes. It ain't gonna work. But if everyone were to wise up and just not eat boxes of Christmas cookies, I'd be out of business. Just losing weight isn't healthy. Unless you're eating properly and exercising, you're in trouble.

NT: If exercise is so good for you, how come every time I do it I feel like I have to throw up?

Csatlos: Maybe you're working out too hard.

NT: I assure you, that's not the case.

Csatlos: Well, it's not uncommon for people to barf when they're working out. When I owned a health club, I had what I called the Puke Bucket over by the squat rack. These are the things I don't tell people when I'm trying to get them motivated, you know. It's hard to get someone motivated by telling them, "I squatted 800 pounds and I was puking in a bucket!" They're running for the hills.

NT: How often did you empty out that Puke Bucket?

Csatlos: Oh, once daily.

NT: So it just sat there all day with puke in it.

Csatlos: It was a happy little gym.

NT: What's with body shaving? And don't tell me it shows off a guy's definition better. I mean, it's just creepy.

Csatlos: Oh, no, no, no! It does show off your definition better! That's the reason for it. If you work so hard at sculpting and defining and lifting your brains out, you want to show it off. It's like having a Mercedes and never waxing it.

NT: I'm sorry. It's just weird.

Csatlos: I guess it's a personal thing. When I was bodybuilding, I used to do it. I still shave my arms, but my wife won't let me do my chest anymore. Does that sound bizarre? If you were ever at that point where you were putting on a lot of muscle, you might just change your mind.

NT: Yeah. I'll keep you posted. It still seems like liposuction would be a lot easier.

Csatlos: It'll get you to look healthier, and it's a short, easy way to do it. But if you get all the fat sucked out, there you'll be with all your flesh hanging off your bones. Personally, I don't think that's attractive.

NT: Do clients hit on you?

Csatlos: Oh, yeah. I had an ex-Las Vegas showgirl call me once. I took the equipment into her house, and she led me into this giant bedroom, with a sliding pole and a mirror over the bed. And I heard this little voice: "Kev, she's gonna hurt you bad." It was a pointless workout. The second workout, she answered the door in a black body stocking and high heels. She said, "Why don't you leave the bench in your van. You're not gonna need it today."

NT: Shocking.

Csatlos: As worldly as I am, when it comes to women, sometimes I'm completely ignorant when they're making moves. I think I know what's going on, but then I'm afraid of saying the wrong thing and getting kneed in the nuts.

NT: How come you only see people in Scottsdale and PV? If you're a mobile trainer, it seems like you could go all over. Are you only interested in keeping the Beautiful People beautiful?

Csatlos: That's . . . yeah. Yeah.

NT: What about the rest of us poor slobs?

Csatlos: (Laughs.) Sorry.



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