General Hospital, Wellness Wednesday

Soap Hub’s Wellness Wednesday: How GH Star Johnny Wactor Stays Fit

Even before Brando Corbin started appearing shirtless at the Metro Court Pool and Spa on General Hospital, viewers were aware that Sonny’s cousin has a…

Even before Brando Corbin started appearing shirtless at the Metro Court Pool and Spa on General Hospital, viewers were aware that Sonny’s cousin has a fit physique. Johnny Wactor, who plays Brando, goes about maintaining his athletic body by doing something unique — rock climbing. The actor recently chatted with Soap Hub about how he got into the activity for this week’s Wellness Wednesday.

Soap Hub: How would you describe your fitness routine?
Johnny Wactor: I don’t have much of [an official] routine but I’m physically active pretty much every day. I’m lucky in that one of my greatest interests and passions — rock climbing — is physically demanding. When I have free time or when I’m not working, I’ll go climbing for between two and sometimes nine hours. Rock-climbing is a very physically taxing sport.

I’ll do things to diversify my fitness so that I can be better at climbing. I’ll weight lift and do some HIIT [High-Intensity Interval Training] workouts. I grew up a swimmer, so sometimes I’ll swim at a pool for an hour or two. I’ll take some rest days here and there but I’m doing something physically at least five days a week.

How did you get interested in rock climbing?
I got hooked on it several years ago. When I’d go back home to visit my family, I learned that my brother was in love with rock climbing. He said to me, “You’ve got to try it.” I was getting tired of going to the gym so, [my brother] brought me with him [to do some rock climbing]. I got hooked because I found it both physically and mentally challenging. I started rock climbing because of my brother and I’ve found it’s been a way for us to stay connected.

What are the differences between climbing outdoors on man-made rocks and at an indoor facility?
There’s a huge difference. I appreciate both of them. I love the convenience of going to an indoor gym. I can get my fix in and I’m done. They do a good job at indoor facilities. I don’t think I’ve ever climbed every single route they have come up with before they change them. I’m never bored with indoor rock climbing.

Climbing outdoors is a different animal. There aren’t color-coordinated routes like they have indoors but there’s something about being outside in nature that fills my soul. Being outside feels natural to me. When I’m climbing outdoors, there’s often no cell phone service. It’s a good way for me to disconnect from my phone and from everything else. It’s not that I need [to explain], but I can tell people, “Oh, I was off the grid.” I like climbing outdoors a little bit more but I love them both.

Do you have a nutrition plan?
I’ve experimented with everything from eating raw to being vegan to doing water fasts. I’m still working on finding out what works best for me. I was doing vegan with occasional salmon and tuna for a while. I recently read some studies about what foods go best with a person’s blood type. I don’t know if it’s been a placebo [effect] but I feel so much stronger and I find that my body repairs more quickly [having tried that]. I’ve learned to listen to my body and eat for how much energy I’m expending. I’m not a stickler about “cheat days.” I eat healthy [food] and I won’t have pizza two or three days in a row if I know I have a shirtless scene coming up on GH.

Do you do any special preparation if you know you’re going to be shirtless on the show?
I have a process to prepare for shirtless days, which I’ve had a lot of on GH. I’m always grateful for when wardrobe or production will give me a heads-up. I usually know five to seven days in advance if I’m going to be shirtless. I hover around 12% body fat. If you give me five days, I can get to 10%. I make sure not to skimp on exercise. I’ll eat very little and do a water fast the day of [a shirtless scene] and then, I’ll eat after my scenes. I have some bands in my room and I’ll try to do some chest flies, bicep curls, and do some crunches. That’s my “secret” process for those days.

Do you have any advice for someone who wants to try rock climbing?
Spend some time at [an indoor climbing facility] and if it speaks to you, you’ll love the progression of climbing. The climbing community is positive and encouraging.

Any other advice?
As a general rule, drink water and if you can eliminate soda then, kick it. When I was swimming, I trained at the Olympic Training Center [in Colorado Springs] a few times. I talked to some of the nutritionists there and they said the worst thing you can do to your body is drink soda. That stuck with me because I learned it at an early age. I kicked it pretty much for good when I was in college. I’ll have a root beer every now and then but drinking that stuff every day or every week or even every month is something I haven’t done in 15 years. It makes such a difference.

Soap Hub recommends consulting with a professional rock climbing instructor before embarking on rock climbing. Also, consult with a physician before marking on any fitness or nutrition plans. General Hospital (GH) airs weekdays on ABC. Check your local listings for airtimes. For more about what’s coming up in Port Charles, check out all the latest that’s been posted on GH spoilers.

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