Stay Connected


Advertise With Us

Learn More

Skip to content


Great Bodies

Posted on



If Hercules ever sat down at Kevin Sorbo’s breakfast table, there might be rumblings on Olympus. An egg-white omelet, bowl of granola or dish of yogurt would hardly fuel a leisurely morning on the Mount, let alone an afternoon out slaying Hydra or the Nemean lion.

But Sorbo, who plays the mythical superhero on the syndicated series Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, has concerns of a more mortal nature. Like a stomach he wishes “could be more washboard,” he says, and keeping his chest—his prized body part—in divine condition. “I’ve always had girlfriends tell me they like my chest,” says Sorbo, who is back in the agora again after recently calling it quits with sweetheart Erin Dodson, a children’s clothing designer.

The 6’3″, 215-lb. Sorbo confesses to Zeus-given genes. “I don’t have that fat-kid story,” he says. “The metabolism in my family is pretty high. Even my dad, Lynn, who’s a teacher, is in great shape at 66.” Sorbo started lifting weights in high school in Mound, Minn., and now spends an hour and a half a day in the Les Mills World of Fitness gym in Auckland, New Zealand, where Hercules is shot. He also puts superhuman effort into watching his diet. That means six small meals a day, easy on the meat and heavy on is the pasta, and laying off the alcohol and caffeine. But every now and then he splurges, he says, “on a double-chocolate syrupy thing. Just add a banana for potassium.” Now that’s food for the gods.



Are the wannabes outside the castle again, complaining that they don’t get enough radicchio? Oh, let them eat bacon cheeseburgers. That is what the ’90s reigning screen siren—and unapologetic carnivore—seems to be saying. Although she possesses neither the pneumatic vulnerability of Marilyn Monroe nor the languid sensuality of Ava Gardner, the 5’8″ Stone exudes sexual health from every pore of her body. The leg-crossing scene in 1992s Basic Instinct that brought her star status couldn’t have been carried off with a lesser frame—or more inhibition. “I have a gangly body,” she has said, “long arms and long legs, big shoulders and a short curvy torso…and a really girlie little spot in the middle.” One thing that sets the former model apart from the crowd is a lack of sculpted triceps and sunken cheeks. According to pals, she neither works out nor diets to excess. “She does everything in moderation,” says designer Vera Wang, who dressed Stone for the Oscars. “She has a natural-looking body.” Still, Stone understands the limits of cinema fantasy. When filming Basic’s nude scenes, she reportedly waved a pistol in jest at a cameraman, warning, “If I see one ounce of cellulite on the screen, you’re a dead man.”



Scores of women, no doubt, have pictures of nearly naked model Michael Bergin taped up in various spots in their offices and homes. But nobody has a better reason than his mom, Lorraine, who has given Michael’s famous 1994 Calvin Klein underwear ad a place of honor in her kitchen. “Just like any mother would,” she says proudly, “I put my children’s work on the refrigerator.”

Well, better on it than in it. Bergin doesn’t like food analogies. “I don’t consider myself beefcake,” he says. “I want to be skinny, lean and cut.” With a little help from a mostly low-fat diet (“Cheese is evil, but I love it,” he says), his wish has been granted. At 6’2″ and 180 lbs., Bergin has the looks clients love. When he snagged a lucrative contract with Calvin Klein last year, he also won Calvin’s beautiful publicist Carolyn Bessette, 28, whom he dated until she hooked up with another buff body, John F. Kennedy Jr. (see page 113).

Of course, managing quadriceps and biceps is easier than managing love affairs, and Bergin has been building his body since high school in Naugatuck, Conn., where he made both the varsity baseball and basketball teams. At the University of Connecticut, where he majored in marketing, Bergin took up weight lifting and, he says, “got huge and cut” in just one year. After graduation, when he discovered that designers like their models thin, Bergin started running. Now, he says, “I change my body when I have to,” depending on the demands of clients.

These days he is also branching into acting. He has appeared in CBS’s Central Park West and snagged a bit part in the forthcoming Merchant-Ivory film The Proprietor. “I want to be viewed as a person, as Michael Bergin as a whole,” he says. Which is at least as good as the sum of his parts.



Those celebrated legs take up 44 of her 66 inches. Since 1944, they have gone toe to toe with Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly and her husband of 47 years, singer Tony Martin, now 82. But the former MGM star never took her nimble body for granted. “It’s the result of years of sweat and discipline,” says Charisse. “Exercise has always been one of the most important things in my life.” Charisse has interrupted her thrice-weekly workout routine only on momentous occasions—such as the births of her sons Nicky, now 53, and Tony Jr., 45. And she still does ballet barre and floor stretching exercises at the Lichine Ballet Academy in Beverly Hills. “I’m not 16 years old anymore,” she says. “I get stiff. If you don’t work out very often, you’re going to be much more uncomfortable.” Besides, she says, “the minute I work out my whole world changes. You go in there feeling depressed, and you walk out feeling like a million dollars.” It shows. “I teach a one-hour class,” says the Academy’s 80-year-old director Tanya Lichine. “Some are exhausted after 45 minutes, but Cyd always looks wonderful.”



Few who sojourn on the Baywatch beach would kick sand on David Hasselhoff. But between 1982-86, when he played crime-buster Michael Knight on Knight Rider, the producers turned into bullies. “They told me, ‘You have a fat face,’ ” he says. “They were right. I was a party kid. I didn’t think about diet or working out.”

Aided by trainer Heinz Altieri, who prescribed intensive aerobics and weight training, Hasselhoff, sweated off 15 pounds—and the rest is history. “I’m in better shape than I was in my 20s,” says the brains behind Baywatch, “and it’s all muscle.”

Each morning at 4:45, while his wife, Baywatch costar Pamela Bach, and daughters Taylor-Ann, 5, and Hayley Amber, 3, are still asleep in their Sherman Oaks, Calif., home, he heads for the gym. Throughout the day, he wedges in 300 sit-ups. Even phone time isn’t free: Hasselhoff is simultaneously logging hand-curls. “Why not?” he asks. Indeed, such perpetual motion seems a small price, considering the payoff: The producers of Baywatch recently struck a reported three-year, $40 million syndication deal with the USA Network.

Not that he’s always camera ready. “I’ll pump up with weights before a swimsuit scene,” he says. “I’ve built a good muscle base. If you give me 20 minutes, the muscles will respond.” His 6’4″, 195-lb. frame, which he maintains with a fruit-laden diet and the nutritional supplement Met-Rx, is almost perfect: “His legs lack bulk,” says Altieri. “But that’s genetic.”



She’s not a size 4. Nor a 6, 8 or…But numbers alone can’t measure the success of Tipper Gore. Having packed on 25 pounds while nursing her son Albert III back to health after a serious accident, Gore miraculously began to shed the weight during the 1992 campaign. Today she’s so fit, her Rollerblading image was wired round the world.

“I’m into ‘How am I feeling? Is this healthy for me? Is this good for me?’ ” says the 5’5″ Gore, who approached the weight-loss challenge with typical common sense. “All the experts will tell you that you can have a hot fudge sundae or a chocolate soda now and then, if you’re basically eating in a healthy way,” she says. “But it’s not a great idea to eat lots of high-fat foods. It will make you fat, particularly if you don’t exercise.”

Gore StairMastered, Nordic-Tracked and Rollerbladed her way back to 130 lbs.—providing photo ops for the White House press corps—and now exercises with the conviction of the converted. She plays tennis, canoes and blades with Albert, 13, runs with her daughters Karenna, 22, Kristin, 18, and Sarah, 16, and bikes and jogs with the Vice President. On a recent trip to Moscow, she ran with the Olympic rowing team and with Russian sprinter Irina Privalova. “I’m not in it to beat people,” says Gore. “I run for the enjoyment.” What a relief. At least someone in Washington is having a good time.



His teammate Steve Young calls him the fittest man in the NFL, and The New York Times has labeled his off-season workout “one of the most legendary and rigorous in professional sports.” San Francisco 49er Jerry Rice starts his 5-hour daily routine with 2½ hours of track work, then segues into 2½ hours of weight lifting. To break things up, he squeezes in 700 situps throughout the workout. “I’m not a couch potato,” is his decidedly modest self-assessment. “I get out there. I do all the right things.” When the 6’2″, 193 lb. Rice gives in to a yen for pizza, pecan pie or a Baby Ruth bar, he atones in his private home gym—even if it’s in the middle of the night. “If I eat like that, I feel guilty and I feel fat,” says Rice. “I just can’t let it sit there and feel good about it. The first thing I’m going to do is jump on the StairMaster.” It took a while for his wife of eight years and mother of his two children, Jacqueline, 28, to get with the program, but this fall she’ll start working out with Rice’s trainer Raymond Farris. Few people, though, are willing to train with Rice himself. “I avoid that,” says quarterback Young. “He’d kill me.”



Jody Watley never thought twice about her fabulous figure. It was her birthright. So she fully expected the needle of her scale to shoot back to 125 following the birth of her second child in 1992. During the pregnancy, though, Watley gained 80 pounds. “I cut out butter and fried foods,” she remembers, flinching. “But I kept gaining. My hormones were out of whack.”

No longer. Anyone who has seen Watley frolicking on the beach in bikini top and cutoffs in her current video Affection would know that the ex-Shalamar singer has whipped those hormones—and everything else—into 34-26-36 form. “It’s a myth that women aren’t sexy after they have kids,” says the mother of Lauren, 13, and Arie, 2 (Watley divorced her husband, musician Andre Cymone, last month). “Women come up to me and say, ‘You encouraged me to get back into shape.’ ”

Still, Watley can teach her fans some serious diet don’ts. At first she overdid it, installing a Stair-Master in her kitchen, walking five miles a day, weight training three times a week, and consuming only 1,200 calories a day. Within four months, she had whittled her 5’7″ frame down to 110 pounds, but “it was too much,” she admits. “I didn’t look attractive.” Now 130, Watley eats three meals a day and does 300 push-ups and sit-ups while on tour—but only if she feels like it. “I’m not a fanatic,” she says. “My workout sometimes just consists of reading Shape magazine.”

Must be mind over matter. Says John Watley, Jody’s 39-year-old brother and tour manager: “People say Jody looks better than she did in Shalamar. They didn’t know she had that body.”



When you’re the Sexiest Man Alive at 27—with perfect pecs and the world’s most photographed abdomen—what do you do for an encore? If you’re John F. Kennedy Jr., you add intellectual weight to your muscle mass by launching a political glossy christened George. And then you slip into your skimpiest gym shorts and go back to doing what you like best: playing Frisbee in the park, Rollerblading on Madison Avenue, kayaking in Massachusetts, skiing, diving, rafting, snorkeling, hiking, biking, playing football and tennis. This Kennedy, who was taught to box and wrestle by Secret Service bodyguards when he was in kindergarten, has developed into a national monument to fitness. But then, he’s a born jock, say his friends—and he stays that way by exercising every day. “He has to work at it to have a great body, just like everyone else,” says Jill Brooke, a CNN correspondent and sometime tennis partner of Kennedy’s. “You can be blessed with good genes, but that won’t give you good muscle tone.” Kennedy, 6’1″ and 175 lbs., has both, by George. And lucky for his adoring public, he likes to show them off.



The male cast members of Central Park West laugh off their co-star when Michael Michele challenges them to shoot some hoops. What they don’t know is that she was probably dribbling a basketball when they were still dribbling their lunch. The 5’9″ star of the beleaguered CBS drama is a born-and-bred Hoosier, which means that she had a basketball court instead of a patio in her Evansville, Ind., backyard. “I have a great love of the game,” says Michele, a forward, adding that her 1983-84 Bosse High School team was a runner-up state champion. “Michael was the type we call a raw-bone athlete,” says her former coach jerry Canterbury. “She didn’t get a lot of limelight, but she kept us in the ball game.” Michele still hits the court near her suburban New Jersey home whenever she can and runs up to four miles a day. That’s why she’s able to dive into a lunch of pasta, vegetables and dessert and keep her figure at 125 pounds. “I don’t come from a family of sticks and bones,” she says. “I grew up eating pork chops, mashed potatoes and homemade bread.” These days her diet fuels her ambition. “I want to be like Tina Turner,” she says. “I want to be up on a stage at 50, kickin’ it!”