Muscle yourself up with Gilad Janklowicz
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By Loren Moreno
Advertiser Staff Writer
By Loren Moreno
Millions tune in to Gilad Janklowicz's shows every day to stretch, kick and step their way to a lean physique. But few realize that the fitness guru's multiple television and DVD programs are Hawai'i products.
Taped on the sunny beaches of O'ahu, Janklowicz's original show, "Bodies in Motion," has been on TV for more than two decades. That's due partially to the trainer's motivational style and studly charm but most watch and work out with him religiously because his blend of exercises actually works.
"If the station takes the show off, or pre-empts the show for some reason a tennis game or live basketball they get calls up the yin-yang," said Janklowicz, a longtime Hawai'i resident.
"It's not a regular show. A regular show, you'll say, 'OK. It's not on today. I'll watch something else.' But this show, people are ready to exercise, they're dressed, they have an appointment with the television, with me. You mess with their schedule, and they get angry."
"Bodies in Motion" a bronzed-body-and-Spandex showcase began as a local fitness show in 1983 on then-channel 13. A year later, television affiliates on the Mainland picked up the homegrown workout program. Then, in 1985, ESPN scooped it up.
The show was an instant success, pulling in such guest stars as bodybuilder and former Janklowicz client Arnold Schwarzenegger and fitness icon Jack La Lanne.
With his show now airing three times a day on Discovery's FitTV, alongside two airings of his newest half-hour creation, "Total Body Sculpt with Gilad," Janklowicz is more popular than ever.
Viewers of the cable network have overwhelmingly voted him FitTV's "Fitness Instructor of the Year" since 2004. And last year, Janklowicz scored 68 percent of the vote against other FitTV personalities in the network's "Trainer for a Day" contest, which put his shows on an all-day marathon.
"It's like a cult, without using the word 'cult,' " Janklowicz said. "It's a phenomenon."
A former track star Janklowicz at one point held the Israeli record in the decathlon he had aspirations to compete in the 1980 Moscow Olympics. But an injury shattered that dream, and he was forced to re-evaluate his goals.
Janklowicz helped pioneer the group fitness industry upon moving to California. In 1981, one of his clients brought him on a two-week vacation to Ho-nolulu. At the fitness club they used, members took note of Janklowicz's blend of martial arts, aerobics, stretching and circuit training as he worked his client.
"I would be teaching, and people would peek in and say, 'Can we join the class?' They would come into the class, and after two weeks of being here, there were, like, 40 people," he said.
The club's owner offered Janklowicz a job teaching and training other exercise instructors.
"Coming from L.A., Hawai'i was a different planet. The first year I was here, after I got the job, I would wake up in the morning and I didn't think it was real. I thought I died and went to heaven," he said.
When Janklowicz's exercise took to local airwaves nearly a year later, his formula of functional home workout, charm and Hawaiian scenery catapulted it to the national stage, where it has remained for 23 years.
"One of the main things we did was put the show outdoors on the beaches," Janklowicz said. "When you're sitting in Minnesota with winter three months in a row, and all of a sudden you see sunshine on TV, it motivates you. I've been getting mail for 20 years with people saying that."
Of course, the success of Janklowicz's show is due in large part to his charisma and natural ability to motivate.
"I find that through my message, I can bring people out of depression, weight problems, motivation issues and really help them find the light, so to speak, as far as health and fitness is concerned," he said. "I am a performer on TV, and my job is to motivate people to get their butts off the couch. But as a performer, my goal is not to show them how terrific I can be, but rather inspire them to come along with me on this trip."
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Weekdays: midnight, 4 a.m., 4:30 a.m., 7:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.
For show details, go to www.gilad.tv. Check local listing for additional times.
Reach Loren Moreno at firstname.lastname@example.org.