When former record-breaking pro climber turned Hollywood trainer Mark Twight teamed up with film director Zack Snyder on a swords-and-sandals epic entitled 300, the end result wasn’t just a smash hit of an action movie: the jacked cast of Spartan warriors led by Gerard Butler also helped to usher in a new era when it came to the physical expectations placed on leading men in mainstream cinema.
In a new video on their Heber “Heeb” Cannon and Marston “Mars” Sawyers, better known as the Buttery Bros, join Twight at his Gym Jones workout space for an FYF (“Fuck You Friday”) workout. It’s an especially significant moment for Heeb, who says that seeing 300 in 2006 inspired him to embark on his own fitness journey, and now gets to ask Twight about how he came to work on the movie.
“Sometime in early 2005, we put up the Gym Jones website,” he says. “[Snyder] went to the studio and said, check this shit out these guys are doing, I want to hire this guy to make all of the Spartans look a certain way. One guy at the studio was convinced that Zack had actually made that website, basically in order to sell them on the training budget, because this guy was like, there’s no way people are doing this in the real world.”
“Part of the premise for 300 was put them through this crucible so that they had muscle for smashin’ not for fashion, if you will, and that they actually started to believe in their own capability,” he continues. “It would appear that training for an aesthetic appearance for a movie role vs. training someone to climb a mountain or get in a cage to fight somebody else, it would appear that there’d be a lot of difference, but the only actual difference doesn’t happen in the gym, the differences happen in the sport-specific aspect of it. Anything that happens in the gym is the same, because it’s the human body.”
However for Twight, the most powerful aspect of training, whether with an actor or an elite athlete, is not the physical, but the mental. “Taking people on these journeys through things that they didn’t believe they could do,” he says, “if you put a person through a workout like that today, for about a 20 or 30 minute window afterwards you have a direct pipeline into their brain, and you can teach them whatever the fuck you want and it will stick, at that point.”