Mark Lawson, formerly Dustin Phillips on General Hospital, stays in top shape not just so he can play fit characters on television and in films. The actor says working out has a variety of benefits for both his personal and professional lives.
Mark Lawson Discusses His Fitness Regimen
In Soap Hub’s latest Wellness Wednesday installment, we chatted with the fan-favorite about physical and mental well-being.
Soap Hub: What’s your go-to activity for fitness?
Mark Lawson: I’m a pretty devout kettlebell practitioner. I’ve been studying the kettlebell since 2005 and have achieved a substantial rank as far as certification in that community. I get a whole body workout with the resistance with the “bell” 3 to 4 days a week. And I use my Peloton or my rowing machine to get in cardio workouts twice a week.
You’ve worked out at your home for years — something people are doing more and more of now.
Yes. Friends have called me the “Nostrodamus of Home Fitness” because I’ve been working out at home for the last eight years. It takes some learning and a little bit of an investment but those rewards that you’ll earn will pay dividends for the rest of your life. Even if you only have one kettlebell at home you can get stronger, become more mobile, gain better grip strength, and have better movements.
What’s the connection between a healthy body and a healthy mind?
I recently told a friend of mine that I know it may look like I’m only lifting weights because I have to take my shirt off for my job sometimes but it’s also my therapy and it’s for stress management. That’s backed up by science. The more I practice dealing with the stress of life [the less I have]. It’s so interwoven — mental health and physical well-being. It’s great to be someone who loves cardio. However, I don’t ever foresee any emergency in which I’m going to have to run for two hours at a time. It’s far more likely that I might need to pick up one of my kids and run them somewhere to safety. Preparing for worst-case scenarios allows me to prepare for the more “moderate bad-case scenarios” with greater focus, grace, and clarity.
What are your thoughts on “cheat” days?
It’s outside the bounds of professional training, which I’ve been doing since 2004, to discuss too much nutrition. That said, I look at it more as having “cheat meals.” (Laughs) I give myself indulgences through the week that I wouldn’t report to my nutritionist — if I had one to report to! I eat pretty well 80% of the time and 20% of the time I’m indulging. I personally don’t believe in excluding any of the food groups or any of the macronutrients…or completely eliminating carbohydrates. Eat with moderation.
What advice would you give to someone looking to get started with kettlebells?
Start with a moderately weighted kettlebell. Learn how to do the basics: squat, press, row, hinge — which is swinging or deadlifting the kettlebell. Start with the deadlift. Also, try doing weighted carries. That’s where you grab the bell by the “horns,” hold it to your chest and go for a walk. That’s great for cardio, grip strengthening, and core training. One of my mantras is to train as if you have to carry a baby to an emergency room. I get poked fun at for the hyperbole but I think that’s how you can get someone to engage in a way that has depth, meaning, and encourages people to come back for more.
People want instant results. How important is it to give it time before you see gains?
It’s fine if you don’t see immediate results. You want to be mindful of the little things you notice that aren’t as sexy as looking great with your shirt off or having six-pack abs. Ask yourself, ‘Do you feel happier and healthier?’ and ‘Do you feel physically connected?’ When you’re training, you can become more mindful of your breathing and you’ll notice how it may be improving. Another big issue people have is that they become obsessed with the scale. You can be busting your butt and the scale may not move but what has changed is your body fat percentage and your muscle. You can be the same exact weight on the scale but you can also look in the mirror and be happier. You can’t be beholden to the scale.
Lawson’s current project is a role in the podcast Aftershock, which is available on iTunes. The show is a fast-paced thriller about a massive earthquake that destroys the West Coast, causing a mysterious island to rise up from the Pacific. Aftershock stars Sarah Wayne Callies (The Walking Dead; Prison Break), who is also the show’s director, and Jeffrey Dean Morgan (The Walking Dead; Grey’s Anatomy). 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.