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Getting paid to hang out with supermodels and movie stars all day is a real job, and Michael Olajide has it. He's the fountain of youth for many of the world's "beautiful people," including Victoria's Secret models.
Ever wonder how Victoria's Secret models get into tip-top shape for the runway? How Will Smith and Jake Gyllenhaal were whipped into fighting shape to play boxers? How Hugh Jackman morphs his body into super heroes? They all have one thing in common: Olajide.
He's a personal trainer to the stars who uses skills he learned as a professional boxer to help clients sculpt their bodies. He also choreographs fight scenes for movies such as "Ali." Olajide prides himself on playing to the psychology of each model — a method used against his opponents as a professional boxer.
"Professional boxing was my apprenticeship. I train models like I'm training a fighter for the world championship," Olajide said.
"I've gone from fighting some of the meanest, hardest, roughest dudes in the world to working with the most beautiful girls in the world so, it all works out in the end."
Breaking into the world of Victoria's Secret models isn't easy but Olajide proved himself right out of the gate. He first worked with Iman. Then, eight years ago Adriana Lima had a month to get ready for the big Victoria's Secret show after giving birth.
"Adriana is one of the most determined individuals I've ever met. She's like a competitive athlete," Olajide said. Lima walked in the show a month later and, voila, Olajide had proved his effectiveness. Olajide estimates he's worked with more than 100 models over the past decade.
Now he runs a "Super Model Training Camp" in Tulum, Mexico, to help models prepare for the annual show.
"They look delicate but they're extremely strong," Olajide said. The biggest challenge he faces is preventing the models from collecting any bruises or abrasions during training.
His sessions are no walk in the park, though. Supermodel Constance Jablonski said: "It's tough. Boxing is a serious workout. You're using your whole body, from the core to the arms to the legs."
In addition to training super models and celebrities, Olajide owns Aerospace High Performance Center in Manhattan, where a monthly membership runs $325. There he teaches private sessions as well as classes. Clients pay as much as $375 for an hour-long session with Olajide where his typical day includes seven hours of back-to-back training.
Olajide said the art of throwing punches is his favorite workout. "When I see someone with that kind of body control, it's that most beautiful human movement," he gushed.
His method is both artistic and calculated. "You have to get to know each client's psychology and approach them all differently," he said.
Olajide cuts an imposing figure. Impressively chiseled, the 52-year-old also wears a signature eye patch covering an injury sustained while sparring in the 1980s. He speaks with wild enthusiasm and an accent that's tough to place thanks to growing up in Liverpool and then Vancouver. His pure passion for fitness, though, is unmistakable.
"You do not have to be a supermodel, or a boxer, or a professional athlete, to experience the effects of Michael's programs. You just have to want to look great, feel great, and perform at your very best," Lima said.
The surreal nature of his job is not lost on Olajide, and he still marvels at his clients. He said the Wolverine himself was the most surprising so far.
"Hugh Jackman was off the chain. Like that terminator scene where he's never driven a car before; that's what Hugh's like."
Olajide also recalls an "out-of-body experience" when he was standing in Dustin Hoffman's kitchen on Passover eating a brisket sandwich the actor had made for him.
"It's sometimes hard to tell these big celebrities what to do but there is a way in which you can without stepping on their confidence," he said.
Though Olajide admits the best part of his job is training the Victoria's Secret models.
"When I was working with the Victoria's Secret 'holy trinity' of Karolina, Adriana and Iman, I was like, 'Somebody slap me,' " Olajide said.