Kicking Carbs with Kickinger
Roland Kickinger’s background may invite
comparisons to a certain movie
star-turned-governor, but this actor and bodybuilder is carving out his own place in
Hollywood and the fitness circuit.
Roland Kickinger knows the comparisons to Arnold Schwarzenegger are obvious. Like the movie star-turned-governor, Kickinger is an Austrian-born bodybuilder and actor with an entrepreneurial spirit. Kickinger played a young Schwarzenegger in the 2005 FX biopic “See Arnold Run” and acted with star Christian Bale on the set of “Terminator Salvation,” the latest installment in the “Terminator” movie franchise that helped propel Schwarzenegger to stardom.
Kickinger says he doesn’t mind the comparison at all. Schwarzenegger is on a short list of stars who paved the way for movie audiences to accept a leading man with a foreign accent, and Kickinger is reaping the benefits. “It’s always going to be there,” the softspoken Kickinger, 41, says of the comparison. “Arnold has been one of my mentors. It’s flattering to be compared to someone of his stature. I see it as very positive. He opened up a lot of doors for immigrants to this country.”
Determined not to be typecast for his looks and 6’5” frame, Kickinger has tackled drama, action and comedy in a variety of projects that include “The Closer,” “Home Improvement” and “According to Jim” on the small screen and “Lethal Weapon 4” and “Disaster Movie” in film.
His talents are similarly diverse—if called upon in film, Kickinger says he can, among other skills, swordfight, water and snow ski, fight karate, use firearms and wrestle.
And, oh yes, if something a little tamer is called for—he can dance ballet, too.
Maybe that’s why Kickinger’s first Hollywood break came not as a shoot-em-up action hero but in comedy. Radio shock jock Howard Stern tapped Kickinger for the role of lifeguard Chip Rommel on “Son of the Beach,” the self-described king of all media’s FX channel spoof of the jiggle TV series “Baywatch.”
Kickinger will soon appear in the feature horror film “Raven” as a lovestruck vampire hunter. “My character loses the love of his life to a vampire,” Kickinger says. “He becomes a mercenary and after many years he sees the vampire again and confronts her and is not quite sure whether he should kill her or love her. So it’s a very deep, sensual, sexy movie with a nice twist.”
When he is not on set, you’re likely to find Kickinger visiting schools with fitness tips or cooking and playing host to clients at his home. Kickinger, a certified nutritionist and personal trainer, offers intensive, three-week “total body makeovers” in which he rises before daylight to prepare five balanced, organic meals for his clients each day. The meals are dished out after Kickinger runs his houseguests through a rigorous fitness regimen.
Actor Steven Bauer, who spent two days in fight scenes with Kickinger on “Raven,” says he may take Kickinger up on his offer to train Bauer. “He has a great attitude towards physical fitness and his body; he treats his body like his temple,” Bauer says, adding that he is impressed that Kickinger manages to endure tough physical workouts and maintain a high energy level.
Kickinger’s entrepreneurial side was evident during his humble beginnings in California after he moved from Austria a decade ago. While living in his car along Venice Beach, Kickinger and a friend painted house numbers on area rooftops for residents who wanted an added safety measure as police helicopters frequently trained their spotlights on the streets looking for criminals.
When he first started offering his personal training services, he charged $30 an hour. Today, he commands five figures for his three-week fitness immersion. This month, he begins taping a health show, “Fit Kick,” that he says will air in the fall. It will have the casual sensibility of the old “Playboy After Dark” shows, but with health smoothies instead of highballs.
Just like his nose for business, Kickinger’s hosting and cooking duties are not such a stretch. He worked in hotel management early in his career and graduated culinary school in his native Vienna. Kickinger spoke with Energy Times from his Woodland Hills, California, home about his philosophy on health and how he marries his bodybuilding training and culinary background.
Energy Times: Tell me about the ballet. Some might find that difficult to imagine.
Roland Kickinger: My mom sent me to ballet school when I was a kid. I had to wear the tights. Ballet is actually a pretty incredible sport because you get really fluid. When you’re taking up bodybuilding you sometimes become a little stiff. It tightens your hips. In martial arts you [also] have to be very flexible. I do yoga pretty much two or three times a week. I do martial arts as well. I don’t do ballet too much anymore but I basically know how to present a ballerina if I have to. In ballet you usually present a ballerina; you lift her up and look courageous when you do it.
ET: What are the roots of your focus on fitness? Were you athletic as a child?
RK: When I was 4 years old I started taking a gymnastics course. I did gymnastics for about six years, and I just love the discipline and competitive side of all this. As a kid I was very active. Gymnastics was a great way to let your energy out. When I was 11 or 12 I was on the heavy side but then I grew tall and the whole build started to change. I became very skinny and lengthy. That’s when I started getting more and more interested in weights.
ET: Describe the training regimen that you put your clients through.
RK: We will do resistance training, weight training, condition training, depending on where you’re starting, and that will take about 40 minutes. Then we do cardio exercises and afterwards we do stretching.
People come up to me pretty much everyday and ask me how they can look like this. Also, they don’t seem to have too much patience. People want everything quick and fast so I developed this three-week body makeover. People will stay at my guesthouse at home and I’ll train them pretty much every day from Monday through Saturday. I’ll supply their five essential meals for throughout the day.
The before and after is incredible. In three weeks you can really accomplish a lot if you just stay with the program 100%.
People come from all over the world. Sometimes it’s couples, sometimes they are on their own. I have a lot of people from New York, Wall Street investors. They are millionaires when they are age 40, 45, 50 but their health is really bad.
ET: What’s a typical day of meals like for you? Like your clients, do you eat five meals a day?
RK: Yeah, approximately five meals. I split the meals to have smaller meals throughout the day. I use food that has high protein and moderate carbs, but everything is pretty natural. I try to stay with organic as much as I can. And the supplementation of course is also part of it. I take weight protein powders. I sometimes take a multi but what’s more important is to do a blood test for analysis every three months and see really what’s missing. Sometimes one of the trace minerals like copper would be low so I would supplement copper. I do take the joint care products glucosamine and chondroitin, and I do take the omega-3 fatty acids.
ET: With the bloodwork you have it down to a science.
RK: With a nutrition profile, when someone wants to start a program I think it’s always wise to do a blood analysis of all your trace minerals. In the blood you see everything that’s missing, what’s lacking, what we have to add, what we have to possibly bring down if the level is too high. So I think it’s smart to do if you take it seriously. You don’t want to waste time if you go to the gym or if you want to learn how to stay fit. You have to make sure you do everything right. It starts obviously with your mind; the mind tells the body what to do, so yeah I think bloodwork is very crucial.
ET: What philosophy do you bring to food preparation based on your culinary school experience?
RK: The culinary school in Vienna is very popular, especially when it comes to pastries. We have a large variety of pastries and in school you learn how to cook really well and you learn how to make things very tasty. But the problem is everything seems to be flour- or cream-based, and we have a lot of different sauces. So what I do is take all these recipes and turn them around and make them basically healthy. When I prepare meals for people I ask them what they like to eat, and I make their meals according to that. We keep the protein high, the carbs very moderate and the fat moderate as well instead of the opposite way, having the carbs high and the protein low. So I play a little with the food ratios and make it more specific for people who really want to seriously change their looks and get into condition.
ET: So you do substitutions. What would be an example of that?
RK: Everybody loves the burgers, including myself. You can make burgers really healthy. I would go with quality meat with no chemicals or hormones. I will take 2/3 ground beef, add 1/3 of ground chicken and get very good patties. I put garlic and onions, whatever spices you like, fresh herbs from the garden. I pluck the herbs fresh every morning. And instead of a bun I would use lettuce. It’s actually pretty good. Just iceberg lettuce and very thin carrot slices so you have a little bit of a bite as well. I like to cook with lemons as well. And that is a very nice substitution. It eliminates all the carbs, all the flour, and you raise the protein up. It really works. After you eat a meal like this you never feel stuffed or full. You’re still just a little bit hungry yet you’re satisfied.
Another example is pancakes; people love pancakes. Instead of flour and milk as the base, as the dough foundation, I would use egg whites and oatmeal. I would grind the oatmeal, make oatmeal flour and then I would just basically use the egg whites and blend it all up and add some blueberries.
So you have this very thin crepe and you can fill them with all sorts of fruits if you wish or non-fat sweet cream, which is really good as well, or you just leave it plain. You still have a high protein ratio, you have a good amount of carbs from the oatmeal and also the benefits of high fiber, and with all the fresh berries you get all the antioxidants. Are you getting hungry?
ET: It sounds really good. So you don’t have to punish yourself to do the right thing.
RK: I love taste as well. Obviously food is a No. 1 indulgence and you don’t have to miss out. You can eat really well. When you eat smaller meals throughout the day you completely eliminate cravings, you know that craving for sweets and sugar. We’re trying to keep the blood sugar stable throughout the day so you never fall below a certain level because that would create this craving. So you eat actually quite a lot, the five meals, but the benefits are great and in accordance with weight training, resistance training, cardio and stretching. We do some exercises at the park, in nature. For some people the gym is a little too intimidating so we do it outside.
ET: “Son of the Beach,” which Howard Stern produced, was your big break in acting. I’ve heard he maintains a very healthy lifestyle.
RK: Howard is very healthy. People think he’s a party guy that drinks and smokes but he’s completely the opposite. When he’s in town we get together and we go through a training program. He’s in very good condition. He likes basically everything I prepare. He likes high-fiber meals.
One of his favorites is turkey pancakes. They’re so easy to make and very simple to take on the road because you can keep it in a little cooler. Every pancake basically is one meal so it’s the perfect ratio of carbs and protein. I use onions, garlic. I would add ginger as well because it seems like garlic and ginger protect you and strengthen your immune system. It’s kind of what aloe vera does for your skin, but it will protect you from the inside out. That will always be my foundation. Then I will have ground turkey. I would have a very low amount of oatmeal with that with fresh herbs like rosemary or thyme in it and pieces of small chopped carrots, and I would just create pancakes. I would boil them out in a nonsticking cooking pan with a little bit of olive oil.
I also avoid salt. I have different herbs which I collect and it gives you a salty taste without the water retention. I use basil, coriander, thyme; we use lemongrass. I dry those herbs, chop them up into small pieces and the herbs are ready to go.
ET: How important is the mental component in getting fit?
RK: Like Albert Einstein said, thoughts influence the body. That is really important if you want to create the body you want. You have to be willing to move towards a fitness goal on an external and internal level. I’ve always believed that we become who we believe we are as a result of what we repeatedly do everyday through our actions, habits, choices, decisions and beliefs. Everything seems to start at the mind first. The brain and the spinal cord communicate through the body how it will function and how it will ultimately appear and perform. So you have to visualize how you would like to be and focus on that and trust that this process will be created for you.
You need to know where you’re going when you play soccer, basketball, or baseball; you need to know where the ball is going. As an actor you need to play your character, and most importantly you need to know where you’re going and what you’re going to do next.
For many people who seem to have weight problems, it’s not that they don’t want to [become fit]; psychologically they have difficulties. Maybe it’s because their circle of friends is not supportive. Maybe they all seem to have weight problems so you have to really adjust and find a way to do this.
Ask support from your circle or maybe the better way is just to get everybody with you on a certain program together. I think that helps very much. It’s your mentoring group who really supports you.
Sometimes it’s better to stay away from certain people and find a different circle of friends.
Personally, when I take my five best friends together, I feel I’m somehow in the middle somewhere, an average of these five people in some shape or form, in business or as a person. I believe I’m somewhere in the middle.
ET: Who are your five best friends?
RK: They are in different categories. One is a financial genius. One is a real estate investor. One is on the police force and has a very good family life. Some go to school and are pursuing their masters. One is pursuing his masters in the evening and during the day works in product placement. One is an independent person who took early retirement and had worked on Wall Street until he was 45 years old; now he’s catching up with health issues and living life to the fullest. They are all very involved. I’m kind of the average of those friends. You learn a little bit from every person.
Ultimately you have to take action; no one can do this for you. You can take all kinds of supplements, you can pay a trainer a lot of money, but you still have to take responsibility and act. They can only give you a key but you have to go through the door yourself, on your own.