Spider-Man: Turn off the Dark cast fitness tips

Find out how Reeve Carney and Spidey stuntmen get super fit and where they work out in NYC.

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  • Photograph: Dale May

    Reeve Carney, 28, Greenwich Village

    How he gets super fit: "For me, the show is my workout. [Spider-Man] is a really great cardiovascular workout. The biggest change I've noticed is that my reflexes have improved dramatically. But I never wanted to get any bigger. I'm onstage with a band, and I like to wear sleeveless shirts. The only rock star I can think of who really makes that work, with muscles, is Bruce Springsteen, and I'm not really like him. I love his music, but I wouldn't put myself in that category. It helps to be a little more slight-of-build."

    How Spider-Man keeps him in shape: "There's this [number] called 'Bouncing Off the Walls' that I do; every time I'm in a harness, you have to use your abs like crazy. I sing and bounce around the room, and go upside down and flip. Pretty much anything that has to do with flying takes a lot of core strength. Just having to sing and maintain breath support and intensity while doing all this movement, that's a workout in and of itself. I feel healthier than I've ever felt."

    Where he loves to work out in New York City: "I walk a lot. Yesterday I walked eight miles, and I'm about twice as fast as any other New Yorker I've ever seen. I took boxing lessons, when I was auditioning for the show. I loved it. That really wears you out. That's more intense than anything I do for the show. They had me do this crazy drill. I almost threw up. You had to go through this obstacle course of various exercises. It was so intense."

  • Photograph: Dale May

    Dollar Tan, 29, East Village

    How he gets super fit: "My biceps workout consists of different kinds of curls---usually five different exercises and four reps of each. For triceps, I do close-grip bench presses and backward dips and squats, lunges, leg presses, backwards leg curls, calf raises for legs. [I do abs for 20 to 30 minutes a day]: sit-ups with and without weights, leg raises hanging and from a bench, and sit-ups on a rubber ball."

    How Spider-Man keeps him in shape: "The show itself is a great workout because it's so physical, and we are using all parts of our body---from the dancing to the tumbling and running around backstage for quick changes."

    Where he loves to work out in New York City: "I work out five to six times a week, and my favorite classes to take are Spin and dodgeball at Crunch (various locations, visit crunch.com for details)."

  • Photograph: Dale May

    Marcus Bellamy, 28, Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn

    How he gets super fit: "While engaging my abs, I lift my feet anywhere from three to nine inches off the ground and balance on my butt. I hold this position for about 60 seconds, while reaching my arms toward my feet. You can actually do a series of things in this position to strengthen your core, but for a quick core correction, this 60-second method is effective and does the trick. The most important thing for me is the combination of stretching and strengthening. I try to think head to toe: move around, and not judge how I am moving, as long as I'm getting my body warm."

    How Spider-Man keeps him in shape: "In 'Bullying by Numbers,' Gerald [Avery] and I run and jump off our teammates' backs, freestyle crunch and crump our bodies in the air, then stick the landing on the floor. It's the overall strength and warmth of the body that controls and determines the landing and what happens in the air."

    Where he loves to work out in New York City: "I spontaneously work out and wake my body up through the day with running, stretching and basic calisthenics. Dancing has always been my main workout. [I like] Broadway Dance Center (322 W 45th St between Eighth and Ninth Aves; 212-582-9304, broadwaydancecenter.com) and Steps (2121 Broadway between 74th and 75th Sts; 212-874-2410, stepsnyc.com)."

  • Photograph: Dale May

    Collin Baja, 25, Washington Heights

    How he gets super fit: "For abs, nothing will ever beat planks. Normal planks and side planks for three minutes each are the most valuable ab exercises, because it's less about vanity and more about true core-strength building. [You should also try putting] a medicine ball under your feet and rolling out to a plank position. Then push down on the ball with the top of your feet, pike your tailbone to the ceiling and bring the ball as close to your face as possible---that's a brilliant and hard exercise. As for back and shoulders, I do rowing. Overall, I think the trick to having a fit body is a combination of food, staying active in some way every single day, and never getting stuck in some sort of routine."

    How Spider-Man keeps him in shape: "I need to focus a lot on core strength due to the Green Goblin flying that I do in the show. Flying at roughly 25mph and in a very complex harness that weighs 50 pounds means that there's no slacking on core strength. Exercises like planks both with the pilates ball as well as without [help maintain it]. I'm hanging and flying horizontally, so if I don't have the control and strength I easily risk hurting my back."

    Where he loves to work out in New York City: "My favorite place to work out or run away to is Fort Tryon Park (Margaret Corbin Circle [Fort Washington Ave at Cabrini Blvd]; 212-795-1388, ftpt.org). It's just a couple blocks away from my house and it's more beautiful than Central Park."

  • Photograph: Dale May

    Brandon Rubendall, 28, Midtown

    How he gets super fit: "I love a good leg lift and weighted sit-up. Usually three sets of 15, twice a week. The general misconception about abs is that you need to do crunches every day for hours. But abs are like any other muscle---they need rest, so they can rebuild and grow. For me, legs are the key to an all-around bigger [physique]---they're the biggest muscles in your body, and by working them out weekly, they release testosterone as well as other important muscle-growth hormones. People always ask, 'How do I get bigger?' Easy answer: legs. For leg presses, I like to load the machine up, two 45 [pound] plates on either side, and do a warm-up of two sets of 20. After that, I either do three sets of 15 with a lighter weight, or seven sets of ten with a heavy weight. It's a killer workout, but it pays off."

    How Spider-Man keeps him in shape: "I'm the very first Spider-Man [to appear] in the show. I do a trick where I flip toward the front of the stage and land right in front of the audience and then backflip away, landing on all fours. It's one of the hardest flights in the show and takes a lot of core strength and control to be able to time your flip just right to make it smooth and land correctly. If it wasn't for a good ab workout, I'd look like a crazy squirrel in the air, rather than a Spider-Man. A strong back is great for repetition of our stunts in each show. I feel like back injuries are so common. If you can keep it strong, you'll be a healthy Spidey. And remember, a healthy Spidey is a happy Spidey."

    Where he loves to work out in New York City: "I'm pretty much a New York Sports Club (locations throughout the city, visit mysportsclubs.com) guy. I'm there five days a week either bulking or toning. I have a pretty set routine. When I am not doing my gym regimen, I try to take dance classes---there's nothing better than dancing. It is what I love to do, and it hits pretty much every body part."

  • Photograph: Dale May

    Gerald Avery, 28, Astoria, Queens

    How he gets super fit: "[During my daily Pilates routine,] I will start in a downward-dog position, with my feet hip-width apart, hips reaching toward the ceiling and the palms of my hands pressed into the ground. I transition into plank, keeping my feet the same distance apart, hands shoulder-width apart and my body parallel to the ground. From there, I bend my elbows and begin to lower my body, counting down from ten. As soon as I make contact with the floor, I scoop my head up into cobra pose. I press my shoulders down and lengthen the spine, exhale and lead my hips back to downward dog. I repeat this ten times."

    How Spider-Man keeps him in shape: "[Pilates] helps build my core, which is essential in all of the movements in our show. As a dancer [core strength] is one of the most important ideas to focus on."

    Where he loves to work out in New York City: "I work out at Club Fitness (31-11 Broadway between 31st and 32nd Sts, Astoria, Queens; 718-545-0004, clubfitnessny.com). I learned Pilates in college, and I have been teaching myself that routine for the past couple of years."

  • Photograph: Dale May

    Christopher Tierney, 31, Upper West Side

    How he gets super fit: "I worked with a trainer, Edythe Heus of Revolution in Motion (555 Eighth Ave between 37th and 38th Sts, suite 902; 212-564-0500, revinmo.com). She's not only the one that put me together fitnesswise for the show, but after I fell---I'm the one that broke a whole mess of bones and lost every muscle in my body because I was lying in bed for two weeks. She brought me back from that to muscle-and-body-ready for the show in four months---after two surgeries. [We] work with a BOSU ball, which is a half gymnastic ball, and then do complete destabilization, which is where nothing is ever on solid ground. [It's] all core, and firing from the inside. I also work on the gymnastic bar; I use kettlebells, and I run through what's called a Revolution in Motion 1. It's an entire program designed by Dr. Edythe. Feet are a big one for her too, because if my feet are strong and they can keep me stable,I can work the rest of my body the way it needs to."

    How Spider-Man keeps him in shape: "[Working with Dr. Edythe helps me] with 'New York Debut,' where I fly through the air and have to make my Spidey poses. She made my core strong enough, so I that can [get into] any position I want while I'm in the air, and make it look like I'm actually shooting a web and being Spider-Man. I also do the major Spidey-Goblin fight, and that helped out a lot because Dr. Edythe works with surfing, surfers and Olympic athletes. I ride the Goblin through the theater at some point---I jump out of thin air, grab a wire, jump on him and ride him. Personally for me, I just go back to movement; I start moving and dancing. I come from a dance background, so that keeps my body strong, but [Spider-Man] keeps my body lithe and agile. I'm working with wires all the time."

    Where he loves to work out in New York City: "I bike and I run in Central Park (centralparknyc.org). I'm an avid biker, I love going fast, so Central Park is my favorite place to do a lot of things. I'll bike, like, 60 miles a day. Sometimes I'll ride Central Park first, and then I'll ride down to the Brooklyn Bridge, and then out and over and make my way through Prospect, and come back into the city. I also love to swim. In the summertime, I do long swimming in the ocean. Right down on Brighton (Brighton Beach Ave between Ocean Pkwy and Corbin Pl, Brighton Beach, Brooklyn; nyc.gov/parks). I'll get out far enough and I'll just swim back and forth. Saltwater makes me feel like I can keep on going and going. In the winter, I have the Manhattan [Plaza] Health Club (482 W 43rd St between Ninth and Tenth Aves; 212-563-7001, mphc.com). That's where I have a pool, and my gym is there, plus a rock-climbing wall, which I utilize there as well. If I'm taking a class, it's definitely Revolution in Motion."

  • Photograph: Dale May

    Kevin Aubin, 28, Upper West Side

    How he gets super fit: "I was always at the gym and in good shape, but it all completely changed when I broke both my wrists during the show. What I learned going through a lot of physical therapy is that I [needed to start] to build a lot more forearm strength, and a lot more core strength, which is utilized [in] the show. What I began doing for my wrists especially is, I got a five-gallon bucket, and I put a couple gallons of rice inside of it, and I started doing boxing exercises by jabbing the rice. You punch it, you do some wrist work---45 seconds for each exercise. In terms of core strength, it was a lot of medicine-ball work and planks. Always [do them] in front of a mirror, or have a friend with you to make sure your back is flat. If your hips are too far up, then you're using your legs or shoulders."

    How Spider-Man keeps him in shape: "They have a couple of weights and stuff at the [theater], and since I'm always at the theater because [I'm a] swing, I use whatever they've got. Pull-ups are the best thing you can do. Also push-ups."

    "There's a number called 'Pull the Trigger' [where] we always have to keep raising our knees up like we're marching. [To prepare, I do] good, high box jumps. It's when you have a platform that can be two or three feet high, and with both feet, you jump all the way up onto the platform and jump back down, and jump up and down. Someone can even throw you a medicine ball as you get up. That's my favorite thing."

    Where he loves to work out in New York City: "I have played tennis in Central Park; it's another great workout (Central Park Tennis Center, enter at Central Park West and 96th St; 212-316-0800, centralparktenniscenter.com. Daily 6:30am--8pm; free with permit. Permits available at Paragon Sports [867 Broadway at 18th St, 212-255-8036] or at nyc.gov/parks; season permit [good through Nov 20] $200; single-play permit $15)."

  • Photograph: Dale May

    Emmanuel Brown, 29, Bensonhurst, Brooklyn

    How he gets super fit: "For abs, I do crunches or V-ups; V-ups are good for engaging the entire core. Squats, the leg press and calf raises[are great] for legs, and the row and shoulder press for back and shoulders. I tend to stretch a lot and make sure to finish three sets of whatever exercise I'm working on."

    How Spider-Man keeps him in shape: "I do things in the show that work many of the same muscles in various ways. [At one point,] I have to crawl down a slanted stage forward and backward. I employ many different muscle groups to control myself."

    Where he loves to work out in New York City: "I like to practice martial arts and acrobatics whenever I have the opportunity. I was practicing at Amerikick (529 Fifth Ave at 14th St, Park Slope, Brooklyn; 718-768-8200, amerikick.com) for some time."

  • Photograph: Dale May

    Craig Henningsen, 24, Upper West Side

    How he gets super fit: "Performing in Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark takes an incredible amount of ab and leg strength. Flying, tumbling, fighting and dancing in the show relies on these parts of the body working simultaneously, and your upper body follows in tone and strength. Abdominals, V-ups, toe touches, reverse crunches, side planks and bicycle kicks---three sets, 20 to 50 reps---are my favorite and most consistent workout routines. For fast, explosive leg results, I [recommend] these drills: squat jumps, ski hops, extension jumps and leg leaps---three sets, 10 to 15 reps."

    How Spider-Man keeps him in shape: "Pretty much every leg movement in Spider-Man imitates a plyometric exercise [designed to produce fast, powerful movements] in some shape or form, whether we're marching and leaping as military soldiers, performing quick dance moves or tumbling as the web slinger. Plyometric jumps and leg leaps are proven to increase speed, strength and elasticity."

    Where he loves to work out in New York City: "My favorite gym for the overall exercise experience is Dasha Wellness (The Galleria, 115 E 57th St between Park and Lexington Aves, suite 520; 212-755-5500, dashawellness.com). They have Pilates, a gym and running programs [as well as] wellness and massage therapy."

Photograph: Dale May

Reeve Carney, 28, Greenwich Village

How he gets super fit: "For me, the show is my workout. [Spider-Man] is a really great cardiovascular workout. The biggest change I've noticed is that my reflexes have improved dramatically. But I never wanted to get any bigger. I'm onstage with a band, and I like to wear sleeveless shirts. The only rock star I can think of who really makes that work, with muscles, is Bruce Springsteen, and I'm not really like him. I love his music, but I wouldn't put myself in that category. It helps to be a little more slight-of-build."

How Spider-Man keeps him in shape: "There's this [number] called 'Bouncing Off the Walls' that I do; every time I'm in a harness, you have to use your abs like crazy. I sing and bounce around the room, and go upside down and flip. Pretty much anything that has to do with flying takes a lot of core strength. Just having to sing and maintain breath support and intensity while doing all this movement, that's a workout in and of itself. I feel healthier than I've ever felt."

Where he loves to work out in New York City: "I walk a lot. Yesterday I walked eight miles, and I'm about twice as fast as any other New Yorker I've ever seen. I took boxing lessons, when I was auditioning for the show. I loved it. That really wears you out. That's more intense than anything I do for the show. They had me do this crazy drill. I almost threw up. You had to go through this obstacle course of various exercises. It was so intense."

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