There’s a trailer on the CBS lot that doesn’t contain a makeup counter, costumes, or an overused espresso maker. Instead, it’s filled with workout machines, free weights, and a lot of sweat.
This trailer belongs to the Seal Team cast, a gift from the show’s lead, actor David Boreanaz. It’s packed with equipment—so much so that if you took out all the machines, they may not fit back inside unless by some Tetris-level strategy miracle. Boreanaz and his trainer, Roy Paras, are proud of the space they’ve built together—a shrine to a level of hard work that reflects the toughness of Seal Team.
When I arrive at the trailer, Paras is prepping Boreanaz for an intense workout, and both seem excited to take me through their routine.
Boreanaz has spent much of his adult life portraying intense characters on TV. One of his most iconic roles is Angel, the vampire with a soul, on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. (Boreanaz got the role after a stranger spotted him walking his dog and called up the show’s casting director, who was a friend.) Over the years, he’s proven he can anchor popular shows: the Buffy spinoff Angel, plus more than a decade as FBI agent Seely Booth on Bones. Seal Team only adds to his resume of playing men who can smolder as well as they fight. And getting to be gym bros with the most famous undead—a vampire who made the girls swoon before it was all hip to do so (*cough* Twilight *cough* Vampire Diaries *cough*) was not lost on me.
Seal Team focuses on the Navy SEALs’ Tier 1 operators as they complete brutal missions abroad and then deal with the mental and physical aftermath at home. The show prides itself on portraying as accurately as possible the struggles and triumphs of a Tier 1 team member: tackling post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), injuries, and family issues. Veterans serve as advisors and work on the show, to help the stories stem from a place of truth.
On the show, Boreanaz plays Jason Hayes, team leader and skilled fighter who doesn’t slow down, even when he probably should. Boreanaz, who doesn’t seem to have aged, is in incredible shape (maybe he really is a vampire?!), and must maintain it in order to play such a nonstop character.
Boreanaz’s workout prep has him facedown on the massage table, where his trainer, Paras, works to stimulate blood flow, see if there are any adhesions, and break up scar tissue.
Paras, who founded of EPX gym, has been a trainer more than 13 years, and has been working with Boreanaz for about a year. The percussion massager Paras uses is loud, and Boreanaz adds some grunting to the cacophony of sounds as his trainer drills into his muscles. This is not a spa-like, cucumbers-on-your-eyes massage—it is a “you’ll thank me later” procedure.
Boreanaz knows the importance of prep work, having experienced injuries on earlier seasons of Seal Team. He had a knee injury during season two and did platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy on his knee, which is the process of injecting platelets into the knee to accelerate healing. He’s still nervous about hurting himself, and quickly knocks on wood at the mere mention of getting injured in any way.
The workout starts with light cardio on a stationary bike: something to warm up the muscles and get moving. His fitness inspiration is his character Jason Hayes, who informs a lot of his work ethic off set.
“The character himself has got a really aggressive drive,” Boreanaz says. “To even go into wanting to become a Tier 1 operator, they have to go through some serious physical endurance of strength training just to get through Buds, go through another 12 months of hell to even make it on a team. It’s really about the drive for me and the character.”
While the trailer equipment is used heavily in the workout, a large portion also takes place outside, where an obstacle course is set up. Paras takes us through band work, jump ropes, and weightlifting designed to get the heart pumping while also building muscle. The idea is to constantly be moving—a little boxing is even thrown in. It’s hot outside on the studio lot, the sun beating down as we jump, skip, and pant through the routine.
Boreanaz says the cast pushes each other to maintain the stamina needed to do Seal Team. While the actors have significantly lighter packs and gear than actual Navy SEALs, they still must crawl efficiently, climb mountains, and keep their energy up during long shoot days. And it isn’t easy to creep along with your gun up, like a real SEAL.
“The details are very methodical and slow,” Boreanaz says. “[It] can really [put a] strain on your lower back, on your knees, on your joints, on your legs. It’s pretty intense.”
Boreanaz proudly tells me that in episode 21 of season two, which he directed, they climbed the side of a mountain and the whole team made it to the top. Luckily, there is no mountain on the CBS lot to climb, although we are both warmed up and could have easily made it to the top of one, if it had been part of the workout. Even Mount Everest. It’s just that nobody asked.
The rest of the workout features pullups, lifting, and a hopscotch-type running drill. We’re supposed to spend about half-an-hour together, but an hour in, Boreanaz insists on showing me one last spot.
He takes me out of the trailer and into the shooting studio, past the iconic Seal Team airline carrier. We end up at the bottom of a long winding staircase. Here, he insists that this is where he does his most dramatic drill: sprinting up the staircase toward the ceiling. The stairs look steep and rickety, but he runs up them: the grand finale to a high-energy workout.
What to Expect From Seal Team Season 3
Seal Team is a gritty show. There are guns, war speak, and a lot of urgent whispering in every episode. The show builds tension into each mission and doesn’t shake off the trauma from episode to episode. Seal Team Season 3 is all about pushing Jason Hayes to his potential breaking point and forcing him to answer some important but difficult questions, Boreanaz says.
“He’s dealing with a lot of his past and people that are haunting him, his brothers who have passed… It’s going to be quite the rollercoaster ride for the guy,” Boreanaz says. “I think a lot of things that are going to surprise [the fans] are the unpredictable choices Jason is going to have to make. The mental capacity, how he survives. The possibility of not being able to be a Tier 1 operator…”
To even hint that his character may leave the team is a big reveal from a show that focuses on a group of people who literally never take it easy. The characters are constantly moving, going on missions, and trying not to look back. The show moves at a quick pace, but Boreanaz is trained and ready to keep up with the action—even if he’s just human, and not a vampire.
This article originally appeared on Men’s Health