CRAIG MELVIN ISN'T sure how much energy he has left. The host of NBC’s Today is breathing heavily midway through his fifth set of sprint intervals on a treadmill with fittingly breathtaking views at the eighth-floor company gym at New York’s iconic Rockefeller Center.
Melvin’s going 30 seconds on and 30 seconds off, peaking at a nine-mile-per-hour pace. Leaning forward, he stomps his tree-trunk legs down even harder on the spinning belt. When time’s up, he plows onward for ten more seconds. “Just wanted to give you a bit more,” he says. It’s 3:30 P.M., but technically he’s been up and after it since well before dawn. Since he’s been working for nearly 12 hours, he could be forgiven for slow-rolling a bit. But that’s not him. “This,” he adds, “is the final challenge of my workday.”
Three times a week, Melvin makes that challenge count, putting himself through an hour-long swole session that blends a cardio warmup with bro-style weightlifting. Sometimes he does it at 30 Rock; other days he hits the elliptical and lifts at his home gym in suburban Connecticut. (He relied on that home gym in March, when he was quarantined due to COVID-19, running and biking and doing pushups with his children on his back.)
No matter the location, his workout comes at the tail end of a grind that starts while most of the nation is deep asleep.
As the news anchor of Today from 7:00 to 9:00, the co-host of Third Hour of Today from 9:00 to 10:00 and MSNBC Live, which runs from 11:00 to noon every day, Melvin rolls out of bed at 3:45 A.M. He’s in Manhattan by 5:15, prepping for the shows and going over last-minute scripts, and then he straps in for four hours of continuous airtime. The 40-year-old says he’s at his most megawatt when he cohosts the third hour. Then he gets a quick breather before that hour of Live.
By early afternoon, Melvin’s extra-early-bird schedule leaves him zapped, but after two decades in front of the camera, he’s discovered that that’s precisely when you need to give a little more. It’s certainly healthier than the alternative he once embraced at Wofford College, where he built his diet around French fries and beer. By the time he graduted in 2001 and started as an anchor and reporter at WIS in Columbia, South Carolina, his waistline had ballooned.
Melvin sought out a trainer, who helped him shed the extra pounds by introducing him to a thing called running. “I enjoy the fellowship of food, drink, and merriment,” he says. He has learned to find a healthy balance, which keeps him at a solid 210 pounds. Being on TV has plenty of looks-based pressures, but his objective remains basic. “I have to stay reasonably fit,” he says.
The workout stays reasonable, too. There are no lung-crushing, CrossFit-style WODs. After doing stretches and light ab work, Melvin hits the weights. He starts with 3 sets of walking lunges, resting 30 seconds between each. Then it’s on to 3 sets on the leg press before he finishes with a superset of biceps curls and triceps pressdowns.
He revels in keeping things simple, offsetting the chaos of the rest of his day.“It’s nice to know exactly what’s coming next,” he says. When it’s over, his T-shirt is drenched. He’s pumped and smiling, even though there are no cameras. “That’s exactly what I wanted,” he says.
Try this speedy Melvin mobility session when you’re on the go. Do 3 sets of each move.
1. Touch-Toe Hamstring Stretch,
2. World’s Greatest Stretch,
5 reps per side
3. Stability-Ball Dead Bug,
8 reps per side
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