Comic powerhouse Kevin Hart is big. Really, really big.
OK, sure, at around 5'4", he comes in a compact package. But his personality and following are huge. The megawatt comedian consistently sells out football stadiums and arenas. He's a box-office smash, with films like Get Hard, Ride Along, and The Secret Lives of Pets grossing more than $3.5 billion. He has 105.9 million -- million! -- social media followers. His new memoir, I Can't Make This Up: Life Lessons, climbed to the top of Barnes & Noble's bestseller list 4 months ahead of its June 6 release.
This is no accident. When Hart takes on a challenge, he goes full throttle. With mottos like "The sky's the limit" and "No days off," no one should be surprised he's skyrocketed into the stratosphere.
"Always putting forth the best effort possible is what my life is about," says Hart, 37. "I'm pure proof that quitting is not a choice. This is my lifestyle -- always wanting to improve, always wanting to do more and get better."
Hart employs this philosophy in just about every corner of his life, including his health. His fitness regimen is serious business. Whether it's running, boxing, CrossFit, core work, or weight lifting, he's all in -- typically 7 days a week, with only 1 to 2 days off per month.
When he's shooting a movie -- like Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie, out this month, or Untouchable, which he recently filmed with actor Bryan Cranston -- he doesn't let up. "I treat it like boot camp," he says. "I work out in the morning, and I'll work out on my lunch break in my gym trailer." That's right, his gym trailer. Most Hollywood A-listers have a mobile dressing room, or trailer. But Hart also sets up a temporary gym.
"I'm pretty much nonstop," he admits. "But my days don't feel right if I don't feel like I've put the most into it, into building me and working on me as much as possible."
Hart puts more time in than most. Fewer than 5% of Americans get 30 minutes of exercise five days a week, the official recommendation. Exercise is key for warding off conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and stroke; recent studies suggest it may also improve memory and slow cognitive decline.
For most of us, 30 minutes most days of the week is a good target, says Aparna Asher, MD, a family doctor with DaVita Medical Group in St. Petersburg, FL. But if you're super-active like Hart, add in time for recovery. "You need a break," Asher says. For every 6 days of high-
octane exercise, take 1 to 2 days off."
Hart is committed to eating well, too. A typical meal includes chicken, brown rice, and asparagus. "It's always chicken. Maybe turkey burgers or turkey meatballs every once in a while," he says.
"At this point, I'm a machine. I put a heavy demand on my body," Hart explains. "We're talking about a guy who does anywhere from 12- to 13-hour days. You can't ask your body to constantly give you results if you're not putting good things into it. It's not something I hop in and hop out of. It's a way of life."
Asher gives this a thumbs-up. For starters, a diet high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein is linked to a longer, healthier life. Hart's lifestyle approach is equally stellar. "Healthy living is not a fad. It's a mind-set. It's what you do every single day," Asher says.
Hart does fess up to one guilty pleasure: fried chicken. "That's the one thing," he says. "Oh, man, Popeyes, KFC, homemade -- it doesn't matter. Anyone who eats it around me is in trouble!"
Pass It On
With so many fans watching his every move, Hart wants his "all in" attitude to rub off -- and he's making it happen.
Hart recently signed with Nike to create Move With Hart, a program that inspires people to be active with training apps, clubs, events, and podcasts. Nike also designed a shoe embellished with Hart's favorite motivating phrases, called the Nike Free Train Instinct Hart.
In 2015, Hart partnered with Rally Health, a digital platform to help people be active, improve their diet, find doctors, and shop for health benefits. As an ambassador, he appears in health tip videos and hosts RallyFest, a live event with free boot camp classes, yoga, massages, and kids' attractions. A whopping 10,000 people showed up at last year's festival in New York, where Hart's personal trainer led workouts and Hart sweated it out alongside everyone else.
"Kevin has a real gift for inspiring people and bringing everyone to their feet," says Grant Verstandig, Rally Health founder and CEO. "Changing a diet or adopting a healthy behavior can be hard, but when you have someone who can connect with people the way Kevin can and is offering encouragement, all of sudden taking that first step feels easier."
Sometimes Hart gets people off their couches on the fly, like when he tweeted to his millions of followers that he'd be running an informal 5K the next morning, and anyone in Boston who'd like to join him could meet him at the Chestnut Hill Reservoir at 8:45 a.m. Hundreds happily complied.
"There's impromptu runs as well as workouts. I've done beach workouts where I've just popped up, me and my trainer. It could be any afternoon to say, 'I'm about to hit Central Park to do a quick 5 miles. Come join me,'" he says. "You'd be surprised at the turnout.
"I consider myself an entertainer who's approachable," he adds. "I engage with my fans. I'm putting people in the best position to want to be better. It's just something I love to do."
Turn Up the Laughs
Lately, Hart also has comedy on the brain in a big way.
He's building up to an hour-long comedy special, so in his spare time he often hits random comedy clubs -- unannounced -- to perfect his act. "I love doing the unexpected," he says. "Giving people that surprise and doing a good 30 or 40 minutes? It's a different ballgame. People love it."
While Hart loves to get out and make people laugh, he's equally happy staying in. "I'm a homebody," he says. "I'm a married man. I love to be with my wife. I love to be with my kids."
Last year Hart, who lives in Los Angeles, tied the knot with longtime girlfriend Eniko Parrish. His daughter, Heaven, is 12, and his son, Hendrix, is 9. Rounding out the family are Roxie, a Doberman pinscher, and Riggs, a miniature pinscher. Together time often involves tacos, Jenga, and the whole gang piling into one bed to watch TV. "Less is more," he says. "It's just about being with each other."
Hart's harmonious home life lies in stark contrast to his childhood. His family lived in a rough neighborhood in North Philadelphia. His father struggled with drug addiction and was in and out of jail. His mother worked hard to keep him off the streets.
Life wasn't easy. "But at the same time," he says, "it's what develops character. It's what made me the man I am today. I don't believe in crying over things that can't be changed. I just believe in evolving and developing."
Taking a positive approach is his default, Hart says. His work ethic and will, however, are gifts from his mother. "Nancy Hart put 100% into making me the man that I am today. Without her I wouldn't be where I am in life," he says.
Hart is determined to pay it forward. Whether it's to inspire others that perseverance pays off, the sky's the limit, or better health is within reach, Hart intends to put his big voice to good use.
"I know the platform that I'm on. I know the eyeballs that are watching. So it's not just for myself, but to act as a constant example for other people," he says. "I want to know that I'm doing a lot more than just making people laugh."
Kevin Hart's Healthy Living Tips
"Live life to the fullest by giving yourself all chances to succeed -- at the highest level -- at what you do. You can't do that without an effort. Put that effort in."
"Don't take anything too serious, to the point where you can't smile. No matter how angry you are, life is going to go on. It's not going to stop for you. Take a chance. Show your teeth and smile."
"Love is simple and self-explanatory. You've got a heart for a reason. Go hug somebody. Go tell somebody you love them. It's contagious."