The SPY Q+A: Gabe Kapler Makes Baseball Look Good
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The influencer world is in desperate need of more men. There are men who promote a certain product or regimen — Joe Rogan’s supplements, Andrew Huberman’s cold plunging — but these men don’t sell a whole lifestyle. They aren’t ageless. They inspire envy, but not a loyal following. This is much harder to do for a male audience. The list of candidates who would stick is limited, and Gabe Kapler’s name is on it. Kapler, the manager of the San Francisco Giants, is the rare qualified lifestyle guru who is not capitalizing on the impact of his brand. Instead of amplifying the results of his monk-like adherence to his health routine (and his impressive mental and physical strength), he remains humble and disciplined.
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It’s that final trait, which served him well during his decade playing in the bigs, that tosses his hat in with other potential ring leaders. He feels strongly about deadlifts, squats, and bench presses. He likes his meat cooked a certain way. His lifestyle sounds tailor-made for social feeds but his deliberately-maintained privacy gives him an air of authenticity.
SPY was lucky enough to talk to Kapler about things besides America’s pastime, including his style, love of old-school hip hop, and sous vide obsession. We came away ready to purchase not just monthly meat delivery, but a custom-made suit as well.
Let’s talk about style. To put it bluntly, you dress better than many of your baseball colleagues and seem to put more effort in. Can you talk me through your personal approach to style and why it’s important to you?
This is true for most athletes and has definitely been true throughout my career, and definitely now, fit is probably the most important thing. It’s really hard to find clothes that fit if you have more of an athletic build. Custom nicer clothes and custom suits are a thing.
The foundation of my style has been a good clean custom suit. I like Rag & Bone as a brand – I’ve always liked Rag & Bone. John Varvatos is a little edgier but they make some really beautiful pieces that I’ve liked over the years and I like now too.
You’ve also stayed in better shape than many athletes do after retiring from their professional careers. What about your fitness routine has changed and what has stayed the same?
There are a few core things that I just don’t think have changed much at all and probably won’t change for as long as my body can handle it. I’m pretty devoted to some traditional compound lifts like squats and overhead presses, rows, bench presses, pull-ups, deadlifts — things like that they just sort of incorporate a lot of total body recruitment.
I also incorporate sprints a couple times a week. I want to run as fast as I possibly can a few times a week and just make sure that my body remembers how to do that.
How has your relationship with wellness changed since being a player?
As a player, I probably overdid it and actually overtrained. I would train before games, I would train after games, my whole goal was to be as strong as I could possibly be. I didn’t really understand recovery the same way I do now and by recovery I basically mean rest and allowing tissues to repair themselves.
I’m better at that now. If my body doesn’t feel like working out I may force myself to do something like take a walk or ride a bike, and I mean an actual bike not a bike in the gym, just to get outside. But I’m not forcing myself to train hard. The mindset has really changed over the years.
Was that mindset shift difficult?
Has it been difficult to make that transition? Sure, at times. Your mind starts to play tricks on you. Are you not going to be as strong if you don’t get sprints in or don’t get a workout in? What I’ve learned over the last couple of years is that it’s fine. It’s really fine. You can go on vacation and eat whatever you want to eat for six days and it’s going to be okay.
What does your diet look like these days? What are you eating on the average day?
My foods that I eat are much simpler now than they ever have been. Now it’s just kind of red meat, eggs, and fruit. Over the years I’ve experimented with every eating pattern under the sun and enjoyed those experiences. Early in my career as a player it was chicken breasts and beans and rice. And now I’m finding that my body functions best when i’m eating meat that has more fat content and some fruit.
If I have my choice I’ll eat strips and I’ll eat ribeyes because of the fat content. The strip has more fat around the edges and the ribeye has quite a bit of fat throughout. My favorite preparation method is in a sous-vide and then transferring from a sous-vide to a Lodge cast iron pan. I get the temperature to medium rare in a sous-vide and then finish it off in a cast iron for a crust.
But then I’m gonna go out and have incredible meals at amazing restaurants and eat everything on the menu and drink whatever I want and I don’t restrict myself at all. If I’m at the ballpark and I feel like eating two donuts and drinking coffee in the morning I’ll do that. This is where the relaxed frame of mind comes in.
It sounds like you transition from food being fuel to food being a source of joy pretty seamlessly. Can you talk me through a recent time food made you really happy?
I spent some time in Mexico this off-season traveling in Baja, California, on both sides of Baja and I just ate a lot of tacos just because they were readily available. There was always a taco stand somewhere and so I just sampled tacos for 10 days and it was exactly as it sounds: really fun.
Do you feel the changes in your diet physically after you’ve indulged? I imagine having a relatively limited scope of regular foods would amplify the effects of skewing too far from routine.
When I’m traveling and eating at restaurants I find myself craving more sugars, probably because I’m eating more sugars. Sugar is pretty addictive. Even for me if I’ve eaten almost exclusively red meat for a while and I’m drinking a glass of wine or drinking whiskey or something like that, even that will create some cravings for me.
I don’t mind having cravings. As you mentioned, I’m really in tune with what’s happening and feel like I know what’s going on and what my body needs.
Let’s talk about music. You’ve been outspoken about your love of music and belief in its power to motivate and connect people. Where did your interest come from?
My dad was a classical musician, he was a pianist, and both my mother and my father introduced me to a lot of music and I did the same for my sons and I think they’ll probably do the same for their families. Some people pass down artifacts, some people pass down things. In my family, it’s just music.
I grew up on hardcore west coast hip hop. So I think one of the first records that I ever really loved, and I mean loved deeply, was NWA’s Straight Outta Compton. And there were ones before that that were more rock and roll that my brother, I had an older brother, so he introduced me to some music. But the one that had the most impact on me was that record.
You’ve been a high performer with a very rigorous schedule for decades. What grounds you?
I have to be outside. Surprisingly, the clubhouse kind of puts you underground for a good portion of the day. If I just go straight from my condo or hotel to the ballpark I can find myself just inside for stretches of six hours at a time and I don’t work well like that. I need to be outside. I take walks.
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