Working up a sweat, that is how LaMonica Garrett begins every movie prep

LaMonica Garrett has often relied on physicality to bring authenticity to his roles. As Secret Service agent Mike Ritter, the edgy Californian received intelligence training in Designated Survivor to play the role of a man whose life was dedicated to protecting the POTUS. In the DC Universe, Garrett is also loved for his rousing presentation of The Monitor and Anti-Monitor, an appearance that requires him to wear heavy and constricting suits for long and arduous shoots.

w, however, Garrett has taken on a career challenge by playing Thomas in the seminal 1883 on Paramount+. In an exclusive chat with M&F, the 46-year-old actor reflects on his fitness journey so far and looks forward to clinching it for years to come.

"It was a lot easier to stay in shape back then, I know that," jokes Garrett when reminded of his recent Muscle & Fitness feature. "Maybe it's the years or the opportunities, but I've had to do less, now I have to do a little bit more. But I think Father Time is undefeated, so that's it."

LaMonica Garrett still keeps a tight grip on his fitness

"I feel like the older I get if I let it go now I'm not sure if it's coming back," says the actor. "Or the overdiscipline (which I would need) to get it back. And with my work situation, where my environment is always changing, my agent might say, “Hey, you'll have this job in two months, so get ready.” I could be on a plane to South Africa tomorrow, so I better be ready be so I don't have to get ready."

For Garrett, staying ready and maintaining those defined abs means putting in hours in the gym. "I do maybe four days a week," he says. "It will be different every day. When I'm doing legs, I'm doing core. When I make it back I'll edit my core in a different way. When I'm doing chest, I'm doing core in a different way, so something every day with core and diet. You know, abs, or most of it is nutrition in the kitchen, so all I have to do is change my eating habits and it helps.”

Fasting for Concentration

"I'm not going to eat anything in the morning," says the actor. "It's harder when I'm working when I'm on set 12 hours because you don't know when you're going to eat again. When we were shooting in 1883 we ate breakfast, then we went eight hours without eating. So if you don't get it early you won't get it, but when I'm not working my first meal is at 12pm. (usually after completing a training session) and I eat a large meal and then a light meal for dinner. And I don't eat anything after 8 p.m. I try to end my day off with a grapefruit.” Grapefruit is low in calories and high in nutrients like potassium, folic acid and magnesium. They're also high in fiber, making them a great choice for anyone looking to control their calorie intake while providing the body with the vitamins and minerals it needs.

"If you tell yourself you're not going to eat after a certain amount of time, don't just go into the kitchen to see what's around," says Garrett. "Energy levels throughout the day are amazing, but towards the end of the night you kind of dwindle because you've had a long day at work and you're exercising, you're just tired, so I go to bed about 10-10:30 p.m. these days that's about two and a half hours after my last meal. I wake up and maybe have a black coffee just to energize the day before a workout. But yeah the energy is great throughout the day and the fog in the brain is gone because that's where the focus is."

LaMonica Garrett rests outdoors after his resistance band workoutBobby Quillard

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"We would move," says Garrett, discussing his experiences trying to stay fit while filming 1883, a dark drama set in the 19th century and based on the lives of those who lived during America's western expansion. 95 percent of the project was shot outdoors.

"Every two weeks we would be on a different ranch, in a different part of Texas or in Montana," says Garrett. "I don't really care what my hotel room looks like as long as there's a good gym nearby. Aside from that, Tim McGraw has his gym near the end of the shoot which I used to work out at. This big trailer with a 70 inch TV, a sauna, a cold bath, all these great machines, so if I had to be at work by 6am, I was at the gym by 4:30am. And Tim... He's a workout fanatic. When I got there at 4:30 a.m., he was sweating by 3:30 a.m. because he was there,” laughs Garrett.

Be creative for maintenance

In addition to Tim McGraw's mobile gym mecca, series creator Taylor Sheridan also had an on-set gym, but there were times when LaMonica Garrett had to be creative to fit into his workout routine. Filming of 1883 took six months, with six days of shooting per week. Because of the wild and woolly conditions in the great outdoors, it wasn't always possible to hit the gym between shots. "Some places didn't have a gym at all, and I just went to the roof," says Garrett. "With my (resistance) bands and with the ab wheel and a jump rope, I would only work out for maintenance."

LaMonica Garrett pushes his fitness limits

Playing the role of Thomas in 1883 is Garrett's proudest moment in acting to date, but it was also his most challenging assignment. In preparation for the project, the actor had to attend a "cowboy camp" that included wagon training and weapon practice. He also received riding lessons, which required him to work with horses for 6 hours at a time. "If you're nervous or restless, the horse senses it," says Garrett. "I worked my core, legs and muscles I didn't even know I had!" In addition, the actor was also trained in the art of cattle rope. The end result is an authentic representation of the skills required to survive in such unforgiving times, but most importantly, this story seeks to clarify the role played by black people during this important time in history.

"It's diversity, but a lot of it is history telling a true story," says Garrett, who will next star alongside Chris Pratt on Amazon Prime Video's The Terminal List in a show for which he has an intense Navy Seal - Had to do training. "One in four cowboys was black, and you wouldn't tell that from the way it was portrayed in previous TV westerns. You see, some comment sections on social media are like, "I love the show and all, but I don't know if I believe there was a black cowboy back then." I'm like, "That was it!" There is real historical figures, black cowboys who are well known architects of this country who helped build this country and how the west was shaped. w I hear there's little black kids that look up to Thomas and they're like, 'Wow, I want to go and ride a horse.' We just need more of that."

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