Health Hacker: How Surfing Changed the Life of Australian Star Ben O’Toole
Australian actor Ben O’Toole was already in good shape, but learning a new skill for his role in an upcoming TV series has reaped unexpected rewards for the star.
One of the biggest perks of being an actor would surely be learning new skills for a role, whether extreme (Tom Cruise learning to fly a helicopter in Mission: Impossible – Fallout), or even somewhat illegal ( Bryan Cranston learning to cook naughty things for Breaking Bad).
Like Keanu Reeves before him in the classic action movie Point Break, Aussie actor Ben O’Toole has learned to snag ten for his role in Barons, a new ABC TV series that looks at Australian surf culture in the early 70’s.
“Before Barons I hadn’t really surfed, but I started taking lessons with a few of the other cast members,” says Cairns-born O’Toole.
“The amount of upper body endurance you need to get out of the back of the surf is incredible, along with the core stability and leg strength needed to maintain balance and maintain control. It’s amazing fitness form, and something I fell in love with.
Not only has surfing kept the 30-year-old comedian in top shape, he also credits it for changing his outlook on life.
“There’s something spiritual about being in the water, waiting for Mother Nature to bring the next set,” he says.
Although you can have control of your board, you have no control over the conditions, the wind, the nature of the wave. It’s a brilliant lesson in letting go, controlling what you can, and learning to accept what you can’t.
Having landed leading roles in films like The Water Diviner and Hacksaw Ridge, as well as roles in TV shows such as Love Child and Halifax: Retribution, O’Toole has already thought about how to adapt his skills beyond the theater world. .
“A general goal I have for myself is to take on more responsibility within this industry,” he says.
“I would like to produce, and one day direct, so any step in that direction is a small victory for me and allows me to continue. I love acting, but I think there comes a time when you want to feel more responsible for the outcome of a story.
“Rome wasn’t built in a day and I’m in no rush. I would like to do things.
Ben O’Toole on…
“I take care of my mind with a bit of therapy. I get a little anxious and paranoid at times, so talking to someone about these issues rather than letting them fester has completely changed my outlook on life. I also find that being closer and surrounded by nature really relaxes me. I also started meditation recently and found it incredibly helpful.
“A regular sleep cycle is something that has done wonders for my energy levels. My goal is to do eight hours a night. When you exercise regularly, solid, restorative sleep is essential. not in time for practice the next day!Plus, you’ll be a grumpy zombie on set, and nobody wants that.
“I take care of my body by exercising regularly, both cardio and strength training, and doing my best to eat well. The exercise became a form of meditation and I found that my mind was grateful for doing something to improve myself each day.
“I try to keep an eye on how many calories I’m consuming per day, but I also like to have a life, so pizza and beer creep in once in a while. It also depends on the character I’m playing at the time. Sometimes you have to gain weight, sometimes you have to take it off, but in between I try to maintain a strong, capable body and a healthy mind. Someone once told me to think of my body and my brain as an F1 racing car. Without the best fuel, you won’t get the best performance.
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