Barihunk and fitness guru Michael Hewitt has written an e-book called Cheat Codes, which is about getting a lean body, focusing your mind and having unlimited energy. We interviewed him to find out what motivated him to write the book and learn a little more about what he's doing professionally. [All photos from Hewitt's Instagram: michaelhewitt23]
1. What inspired you to write the book?
The fitness industry is rife with even more obfuscation than the Young Artist industry.
Buying Fit Teas
and doing Whole 30
once per year isn’t delivering meaningful and significant results. People are missing out on living life because they are sold false truths about what it takes to build a body you can feel at home in.
I wrote Cheat Codes
to simplify complex fitness ‘hacks’ into a way that everyone could understand them, and take advantage of them. I believe an awesome body should complement your life, not run it, and I want to share that with anyone seeking solutions.
2 Your path to fitness involves a failed relationship, which seems to be a common thread with guys who get into fitness. Why do you think that is?
Women aren’t the only people who feel societal pressure to transform their bodies. Lots of women, for example, cite the Victoria’s Secret
catalogue/fashion show as a standard they feel hard pressed to live up to: if they aren’t as skinny and made up as those women, they are made to feel “less than”. In my experience, it’s much the same with guys: all of our action figures are jacked, the heroes in the movies are jacked, and major cultural icons-The Rock, Hollywood A-listers, athletic legends-are all in fantastic shape. Chris Pratt went from lovable sidekick to bonafide movie star when he got serious about his body.
A note on this: I don’t think this is “unhealthy”. Pedestalizing the exception is the rule. No one celebrates average, and no one should. No one’s carves a statue of the stereotypical Dad-Bod.
So, anyway, for a lot of young men, validation and attention (or lack thereof) gets correlated with ones own level of fitness.
The rejection I mention in Cheat Codes
(though there were a fair amount) was the straw that broke the camel’s back for me: I had unfatted myself during high school, kept weight off, and added a little bit of muscle to my frame. I was even proud of how I looked, for a time.
While of course the real loss is hers, at that time, I thought the only reason I was being rejected was because I didn’t look like the aforementioned American heroes: wide V-taper back, popping 8-pack, and armor-plated chest.
While that’s not true, what I call “former fat-kid syndrome” (a type of body dysmorphia where you still identify as fat when you’re actually quite lean) still had me in it’s clutches. I thought that if I could make myself look like THAT, then I’d never have that pain again. (I was wrong, but I did get transform massively-the Statue Jacked program was largely based on what I learned in that period).
3. Why is it just as important for singers to train their bodies, as it is their voice?
There’s a million reasons, but I’ll give you the inside scoop on the best ones.
The saddest thing in the world is a voice that is past it’s prime and a shell of it’s former beauty and power, right? I want to extend the timeline of my voice and performing career as long as possible. So if you want your voice to stay flexible and pliable and beautiful, wouldn’t you start with working on the body? Singing is also a muscular endeavor. Muscular, but not maximal. That’s the real key to having any real hope at appoggio
, I think: you’ve got to have strength, but also have strength to not give everything, to not overdo. I would rather be extraordinarily well-armed than bare fisted for a battle like that.
It’s important that everyone know about the ability and limits of their body. After all, you interact in the world. You don’t want to be coming up shorty when you need yourself most. More important still, do you know the limits of your mind?
What other endeavor can challenge the two of them both powerfully and simultaneously?
What is that you have to say to yourself, what inner demons must be fought and burned for fuel, to get you through the last sprint without slowing down? What do you prove to yourself by respecting your self enough to build your body?
Through training, you learn to bet on yourself. You learn about the timeline of things, and develop respect for proper maturation.
Firsthand, you see the rewards of focused reps. The deliveries of diligence as you see yourself improve.
You learn that you are STRONG. That you cannot be so easily shoved into the mud. That you’ve the courage to stand and fight with the body to back it up.
Think about how that would change you, inform you, as a person and performer. Wouldn’t you be better off onstage for it?
Would that change how you walk into an audition room? Your confidence at parties and events? Your ease and fluidity onstage?
Wouldn’t that help you in your career?
4. One common criticism we hear about singers who work out is that is will restrict their diaphragm and make singing more difficult. Any truth to this?
|Michael Hewitt in Silent Night (right)|
Sure, only if you broaden the scope of blame to include 1) bad vocal advice and 2) poor practice habits or 3) always being a mediocre singer, but only getting attention because the company sought body over voice.
Singing is a lot easier when you’re strong as hell.
5. What is the key to discipline in training the voice or the body?
You’ve got to be committed to the big picture: that through mastery of your craft you gain mastery of self.
6. What's the latest with your vocal career?
I’m having a blast. I had a packed summer at Glimmerglass. It was a lot of fun. Played Lt. Horstmayer in a production I’m really proud of, played Sam in Trouble in Tahiti
, and played Diesel in Francesca [Zambella]’s new production of West Side Story
. I got to do the original Jerome Robbins choreo for that too. It was really cool to be a part of that show. I’m such a fan of Leonard Bernstein, and this whole year I’ve been eating off his great music, so I feel blessed for that. That particular show we worked with David Charles Abell, who was his last protegé, and Julio Monge, who worked closely with Robbins. And here I am, separated by only degree at the intersection of these TITANS, a guy who fan girls over them both. So it was a trip.
This season, I’ve got a little fest at WNO. I’m really excited about it. I’m officially a Domingo-Cafritz alum, so to be able to go right back to where I consider home to be a principal artist is a warm feeling.
In October, I played Baron Douphol at WNO, and that was another experience that I’m still really jazzed over. I got to hear and be a part of a world-class interpretation of one of the greatest works in the whole of creation for almost two months. That’s so cool. I really almost had an out-of-body experience before my first line. I was like “dude, you’re about to sing a solo line of Verdi front and center at WNO. You do this, there’s no going back-you’re an opera singer”. And I was with a cast of just BALLER performers, and two baritones I idolize, [Michael] Chioldi and [Lucas] Meachem. I learned so much talking to those guys and picking their brains and watching them do their thing.
We just wrapped up Silent Night
(same production, by Tomer Zvulun, which is gorgeous and impactful, and third time this year I got to work with Nicole [Paiement], who just brings the score to life), which was a big hit. Up next is Angelotti in Tosca
. I’m really looking forward to seeing Faust
I’ve been really fortunate to be able to work with some really great guys in my coaching program this year, too. One fit back into his favorite suit, another guy shed his shirt at the pool without any hesitation…I just started working with a few more who are crushing it. I’m excited about that. It’s hard to get in but worth it for the right people.
If that’s you and you wanna apply, go HERE
And while it’s free (going to be $100 soon) you gotta get Cheat Codes
. Get that HERE
If you have any questions about what I’ve been saying, if you love it, or if you want to send some hate my way, connect with me @michaelhewitt23 on IG and Twitter, and/or let’s connect on FB.