Gabe Tuft lives an impressive and exciting life. Having wrestled for WWE as Tyler Reks, he has left the ring to start up his own fitness site, Body Spartan. On top of that, he wrote an eBook covering fitness, motivation, and nutrition entitled Body Spartan: Genesis. I spoke with Gabe to discuss Body Spartan, wrestling, and music.
Alex Obert: With Body Spartan: Genesis, what was your favorite section to write?
Gabe Tuft: Probably the section on motivation, it’s chapter two. I love getting people motivated and I think it’s just something that I have a gift for. And that whole section has just got a lot of character in it, it’s me unhinged with the volume turned up, it’s me being me and I speak truthfully about how to get motivated. I’ve got some cool stories in there about when I was real young, like eighteen, was just getting into fitness and stuff like that. They’re kind of funny, but at the same time, they’re just really motivating. The goal of the book is to just inspire people and that whole section just really comes from the heart.
Alex Obert: How do you currently stay motivated?
Gabe Tuft: It’s all about goals, man. The first chapter in my book talks about why I’m motivated now. It’s got a lot to do with family and it’s got a lot to do with providing for them, just being someone that they can appreciate and that they look up to, being a role model. So that’s my motivation.
Alex Obert: How did you go about research for the book to put out the best content possible?
Gabe Tuft: It’s an accumulation of twenty one years of fitness experience. I started lifting when I was fourteen, I’m thirty five now, so twenty one years to figure out what works and what doesn’t work. But somewhere along that line, my wife and I owned a personal training center, she’s a master sports nutritionist, licensed in the state of California. So we had a lot of knowledge from that personal training center. We’ve sent a lot of people to competitions and been helping people ever since with fitness. There was a lot of research involved, we did nutrition plans with TriSystem, Jeff Kotterman is the owner and he’s also on the licensing board for NASN. We leaned pretty heavily on his expertise, he’s done a lot of bodybuilding competitor’s diets and fitness competitor’s diets, he’s helped us over the last ten to fifteen years.
Alex Obert: With your book and site, do you feel that it is user-friendly and easy to grasp for those who are about to enter the gym for the first time?
Gabe Tuft: Absolutely! The book was written with multiple demographics in mind. And anytime you try to get somebody motivated to get in the gym and change their physique, you gotta think, “Okay, we’re starting from square one, but we have to be cognizant that some people out there have already been in the gym for a while.” There’s a fine mix of that. If you were to pick up this book and never stepped foot in a gym before, guaranteed it will be motivated to get your butt in there. Start following the program, start following the nutrition plan, and just move forward. Start changing your physique and change your life.
Alex Obert: How do you feel your product would benefit the wrestlers on the road in regards to nutrition and training on the road?
Gabe Tuft: As far as wrestlers, if they’re interested, it’s a matter of sticking to the workout plan. A lot of the guys that I rode with, we didn’t miss a day. I would say ninety percent of the guys on the roster don’t miss a day in the gym. But it’s a matter of what you are doing, are you tracking it, are you measuring, are you trying to advance your gains, or are you just doing the same routine over and over again? And as far as the nutrition plan goes, it was made and created with people that are in the eight to five job, go to work, come home at night, that sort of thing, it was created with them in mind. If you read the nutrition section and you take away the bigger picture, you can easily tweak it for road life.
Alex Obert: For the wrestlers on the road, how does a ten minute match in the ring compare to a standard workout?
Gabe Tuft: It’s two completely different animals. There is no substitute for in ring conditioning, there’s just none. You can be overweight, you can be skinny, or you can be in super good athletic shape with a great physique, but you may not have ring shape. It’s all about being able to take bumps, there’s really intense stresses that are being put on your body in the ring. And you just cannot compare to that. But building muscle outside the ring is also completely different and it’s necessary because the idea of wrestling is to look at somebody with a decent physique. Sometimes you get guys that are bigger and heavier on purpose and that’s their character, but for the most part, we want to see athletes. So that takes a completely separate regimen. If you’re on the road, doing house shows and TV every week doing a ten, twelve, fifteen minute match, that’s gonna keep your wind up in the ring. But you still need to go and you still need to lift.
Alex Obert: Who were your favorite wrestlers to work out with on the road?
Gabe Tuft: Masters was awesome cause he didn’t miss a day. Hawkins because we rode together all the time. Curtis, currently known as Fandango, another great guy to lift with. Tyson Kidd. Just guys that are really consistent that aren’t afraid to be pushed or to push me. Alex Riley was always in the gym, good guy to work out with. Mason Ryan, obviously huge and an inspiration, I think he was one of my main motivators while I was there. So those guys, great guys to work out with.
Alex Obert: A few of the names that are apart of Body Spartan are Ezekiel Jackson, JTG, and most recently, Ethan Carter III (formerly Derrick Bateman on NXT). Though he’s not currently apart of the Body Spartan team, would you welcome your former tag team partner, Curt Hawkins, to come on board and help out with the site?
Gabe Tuft: Hawkins, always! Always, man! (laughs) He’s not the pinnacle of physique, but he is the pinnacle of a wrestler and somebody that has dieted down. He’s lost a ton of body fat, done a lot of nutritional stuff that my wife, Priscilla, recommended. And it worked. He’s got firsthand knowledge of that. Incredible in ring capabilities, his in ring conditioning is second to none. And I’ve put him through the ringer a bunch in workouts. (laughs) He’s a motivated guy and one of the guys that I would love to have on board.
Alex Obert: Getting into your site, what issues have you seen with other fitness sites that you’re looking to change with yours?
Gabe Tuft: Take Muscle & Fitness for example, they’ve been around forever, I definitely don’t wanna talk bad about them because I love their magazine and have read it since I was a kid. But the online stuff has a little bit to be desired, I feel like they’re not putting their heart and soul into it and a lot of the articles are really short and not written by people that are passionate about fitness. They’re written by people that are book smart, that have their personal training certification and that may be it. With Body Spartan, we have my book, nutrition articles, and training articles. We don’t spam the site with a bunch of different ads for different products that are just there to make money like protein bars that are loaded with sugar but we don’t care cause we want people to buy it, that’s not Body Spartan. The only thing we plug on the site are the books, the nutrition plan, and reader articles which are written by people that have to be in TV-ready shape on a daily basis, and they’ve done it for years. They are dedicated to fitness. It’s not somebody that’s just book smart. It’s from somebody that is book smart and has real world experience, looking good and in shape day to day.
The other thing is too, we’re inbound, we’re not outbound. So you see a lot of sales messaging on a lot of the other fitness sites, you’re not gonna see a lot of that on our site. We want to be interactive. We want to say, “Hey guys, here’s what we offer. Come read our stuff and by the way, this is what we use, here’s the supplements we use. If you need ’em, they’re here for ya.” We’re planning a lot of stuff for social media, Facebook Q&As, answering fan mail and fan questions, that sort of stuff. We’re a small enough team that we can individually answer questions, rather than having a team that’s dedicated to social media that doesn’t know a whole lot. You’re gonna be talking to the main guys when we’re doing Q&As and they’re gonna be giving you answers that you can’t get anywhere else.
Alex Obert: We were talking earlier about those who step foot in the gym for the first time, but I’d love to know what you were like when you first started working out and what mistakes you made.
Gabe Tuft: (laughs) Yeah man! I go into pretty good detail about this in the book because it’s a good story. When I was a junior in high school, I was wrestling varsity, even though I sucked, I was terrible at it. But I was six three and a hundred and seventy pounds on a good day so I was real skinny. I made a lot of mistakes. I didn’t know what to eat and I didn’t have a clue about nutrition. I did three sets of ten on everything. I didn’t know about how to increase weight, how to switch from strength to mass training to endurance training, how to shock the body. I have some injuries that are still nagging me from when I was young, having underdeveloped shoulders. Some of that I see all the time, guys complain about bench press injuries. Bench press is the number one egotistical exercise in the gym. (laughs) I think we all know that! So guys go and shove a bunch of weight on there and that’s the way to lift. In reality, I know it’s not, but we all still kind of have that mentality. I remember just shoving weight on there when I was younger and just tearing my shoulder because I didn’t take the time to properly build my shoulders, stretch out the ligaments, good form on the bench, stuff like that. I’ve made mistakes and I’ve paid for them. So I’m trying to save everybody that heartache.
Alex Obert: Earlier you were telling me about which wrestlers you worked out with on the road, if you could work out with any wrestler, past or present, who would it be?
Gabe Tuft: Aw man, that’s a great question. I’d love to have a workout with Mr. Perfect. He just was in great shape all the time, a phenomenal physique, and I heard good stories about him. He hit the gym hard and just would have loved to had a chance.
Alex Obert: With leaving WWE and starting your own business with Body Spartan, what is your advice for current WWE and TNA wrestlers who might unexpectedly get released and need a game plan so they don’t wind up on the indies in their fifties and sixties?
Gabe Tuft: That’s a tough one. They can always come work for Body Spartan! (laughs) The door is wide open for any of my brothers in the wrestling community to come take part and be apart of the team. But on a separate note, as far as starting a business, I was lucky enough that I have a degree in civil engineering and I’ve always been an internet geek, that I was able to start something from scratch. I started an internet marketing company with my brother in law. I would just say for the guys out there, wrestling is not the end all. There is life after wrestling. You just have to stay motivated. It’s like in the book where I talk about finding motivation for being in the gym, the same goes for life outside wrestling. Gotta be motivated to go make money. Be innovative. Be entrepreneurial. Don’t get caught up in the rat race cause if you’re wrestling, you don’t wanna be in the rat race anyway. You’re meant for something different with all the ways to make money out there. I encourage guys that if that happens, call me, tweet me, I’d be happy to chat with you. I do start ups all the time and we help brand new companies with their branding and with their digital marketing. Any of those guys, man, I’m happy to have a free consult, sit down to do a phone conference, and hopefully get ’em on the right path.
Alex Obert: Getting into your wrestling career, the first question I have, what was it like on NXT Redemption working main event programs with promo time and lengthy matches?
Gabe Tuft: It was the best thing that ever happened to us. Before, when on Smackdown and RAW, things were happening so quick, we would just sit there and hope for a match. If we got one, it was really short and there’s no time for promos. We couldn’t develop our characters. And all of a sudden, while on the C show, Vince just didn’t care about that. It was obvious because the writers were like, “Well, they don’t care so do whatever you want.” Tom was one of the main writers and he just came up with these great ideas, he came from a soap opera background, so he loved storylines. He was into writing not just a story for this week, but a story for five or six weeks, which as you saw, was something that happened. And we got tons of mic time, long matches, and I loved it. Hawkins loved it. It helped us develop our characters. And we had this miniature cult following and they loved it. Some people on social media were just saying that NXT Redemption was better than RAW and Smackdown. I don’t know if that’s true, but I had a great time. I enjoyed the fact that the fans loved it and they appreciated it and they liked the storylines and matches. We’re not Jerichos, we’re not Ortons, we’re not Cenas, we don’t have that many years under our belt, but we had a good time. And we think it was pretty entertaining.
Alex Obert: What’s your take on why WWE chose to abandon the competition format on NXT Redemption midway through the season and basically turn it into what the WWE version of ECW was?
Gabe Tuft: I think it was just a lack of anybody in a position to make decisions that cared. I just think it was kind of fallen off the radar, they had too much going on. The competition, it just started going on forever. The writers didn’t really think past this week, they never really thought into the future, it’s just what’s going on that week. “Okay, we’ve got Cena to wrestle, we’ve got Orton to wrestle, these guys wrestle. We’ll spend two minutes writing NXT.” That kind of thing. So it just kind of became it’s own different show, the whole competition just suddenly disappeared! (laughs) Nobody had any idea what was going on.
Alex Obert: A true wrestling veteran, William Regal, was apart of NXT Redemption. What did you learn from him?
Gabe Tuft: Regal is just a book of knowledge. And it was little things like ways to engage the crowd, how to pick one single person out of the crowd that was an agitator and to make eye contact, getting that person riled up so the people in the crowd would get riled up, just ways to work the crowd. How to work differently and creatively, how to build a story creatively, how to take our time. There’s a lot of stuff that the vets can offer, a lot of knowledge that you just can’t get in FCW and you can’t get unless you work with the guys in the ring, whether they’re there to compete or watch your matches and give you advice. It was not something that he just dished out. He was quiet at first and then he understood that we cared and we wanted to learn, so he gave us a little more and a little more and before you know it, he was helping us out quite a bit.
Alex Obert: You also worked a lot with Matt Striker on NXT Redemption. What was your relationship with him like backstage?
Gabe Tuft: Striker’s a great guy. He would always pull me aside and give me advice. Him and I are buddies, again, great guy. Another guy with a lot of knowledge, a great amount of knowledge for creating a story that’s interesting, not just going out there and wrestling, but telling a story. It’s just kind of a lost art. That’s what those vets have to offer. And Striker would watch every match and watch every promo Hawkins and I did. He’d sometimes pull me aside or grab me and grab Hawkins and say, “Real quick, just wanted to tell you this, this, this. Maybe try this or may I suggest you talk to the writer and try something like this? You got nothing to lose.” And ninety nine percent of the time, he was right. He just had a ton of good ideas that came to fruition for us.
Alex Obert: When you were originally on Smackdown, you shared a locker room and was on the Bragging Rights team with Edge. Do you have any fond memories with him?
Gabe Tuft: (laughs) This one time, it was me, Edge, and I think Kane were backstage, I don’t know where it was, maybe the trainer’s room watching the show. And there’s this little tricycle in the back, a kid’s tricycle. I remember Edge hopped on it! (laughs) Just to see this big six foot whatever guy on this tricycle, then I swapped out and I got on it. He’s a great guy, man. Another guy that has so much knowledge, he’s funny, he’s humble, stuff like that would happen all the time. I think there’s a picture floating around somewhere on social media of me on that bicycle. That was a good night!
Alex Obert: One of the wrestlers you are friends with, Johnny Curtis (Fandango), what did you think of his NXT Redemption gimmick, and do you think it would have been as successful as Fandango? And what are your thoughts on why they changed it?
Gabe Tuft: (laughs) I loved his NXT gimmick. That creepy character that Curtis had during NXT Redemption where he was kind of like a little creepy, a little pervy, that was like him just being silly. He would do that kind of stuff all the time while joking around. We used to call him Creepy Curtis. I loved the gimmick and I thought it was great. I think they changed it because I think Hunter and Vince wanted a character, something over the top that people could latch onto. The Creepy Curtis character was good, but obviously it doesn’t stick in your mind the way the Fandango character does. You see him in those pants, the whole character put together and I remember him. I know exactly who he is and what he does. But I think parts of that character from NXT carried over to the Fandango character too. You can kind of see that in him.
Alex Obert: Do you have any memories with Daniel Bryan?
Gabe Tuft: Yeah, tons! Great guy, very humble. I’ve known him since we were in FCW. I didn’t know him on the indies, but a whole load of good things to say about him. He’s humble, he’s calm, reserved. I don’t have any crazy funny stories cause I didn’t ride with him, but he’s a great worker, dedicated his life to wrestling. And I can totally appreciate what he does.
Alex Obert: And also, any memories with Dolph Ziggler?
Gabe Tuft: I would call Dolph the asset to the company. He’s the man. I remember back in FCW, I had no idea who he was, before I even realized what the Spirit Squad was, I was having matches with him at the Bourbon Street Night Club in a little indy ring at a bar show. Dr. Tom’s like, “Hey, we’re gonna put this kid over.” So Nick would put me over in matches and he was really cool about it. Then come to find out, I’m like, “Oh, you were up there. You were Kerwin’s caddy. You were in the Spirit Squad doing stuff with Hunter and Shawn. Oh okay, and now you’re putting me over in Bourbon Street and you’re not upset about it? You’re calm, you’re collected, and you’re helping me.” He’s a good guy and he deserves to be in a top spot. He could bump like nobody else, he could put a match together like nobody else, the guy just sacrifices his body on a nightly basis for the company. So yeah man, he deserves a top spot. I’m proud of him, I’m happy to call him a friend, and he’s a great guy.
Alex Obert: I’d love to get into music a bit. One of the entrance themes that you were known for while in WWE was the theme that Curt Hawkins used. What are your thoughts on that theme, In The Middle Of It Now by Disciple?
Gabe Tuft: I love it, man! The first time that we came out to his music, it felt good. I felt like I had a really generic theme myself from the generic standard library. Darren Young and I had the exact same music, his just had a different musical instrument playing and tweaked a little bit. But it was the same exact track, I felt so generic. Hawkins has had his theme for as long as he’s been around. The lyrics are really cool, it’s all about paying your dues and we’ve been put through everything, here we are, we’re here now and it’s our time. That’s how I really felt, so it was cool, man. It hit home. I still have it on my playlist at the gym because it hypes me up. So yeah, I dig it, man.
Alex Obert: How long did it take for you to get tired of the NXT theme, Wild and Young?
Gabe Tuft: (laughs) I don’t know, a week? The whole Wild and Young thing just didn’t quite feel right.
Alex Obert: Which bands have you seen live?
Gabe Tuft: I’ve been to one concert. It was at the The Coach House in San Juan Capistrano, it was Marcia Griffiths and the Wailers, Bob Marley’s original band. It was a small dive venue. We sat front row at this dive venue and got to watch the Wailers and Marcia play. It was a real close, intimate experience and we were right there, right up front in this real small dirty venue. It was a blast, man, I had a great time. I’d love to see Skrillex live. I know Justin Gabriel’s a big fan of his and he’s seen him a couple times. Supposed to be really cool. I’m kind of a dubstep guy, so it’s right up my alley.
Alex Obert: Favorite and least favorite entrance themes?
Gabe Tuft: Batista’s music was always pretty cool, I dug his. Edge’s, I think that could be one of the best entrance themes ever. Let’s stick with that. I think mine was probably the worst! (laughs) My ECW theme was even worse, it was like the surfer theme. Legit surfer music with whatever that weird guitar is in the background. It was pretty lame. That gimmick just kind of died when I got called up cause I got called up out of nowhere and they go, “Oh by the way, you’re debuting tonight. And you can’t wear the surfer shorts that you’ve been wearing, you have to wear trunks.” And all of a sudden, I’m this big jacked guy in trunks trying to be a surfer and the gimmick just didn’t carry over. It was so lame. (laughs) It’s all about reinventing yourself and evolving.
Alex Obert: In closing, how do you plan to further develop Body Spartan throughout the rest of the year?
Gabe Tuft: We’ve got a lot of stuff planned for quarter two. A lot of videos. The book’s divided into three parts, it’s motivation and then there’s the workout and then there’s also the recipes. The recipes section, I’ve got a bunch in there that go with the nutrition program, so it should be really easy for people to follow the recipes. But we’re gonna do some video content where we’re gonna get in the kitchen and have episodes where we show recipes to go with nutrition programs with how you make it and what it looks like. We’re gonna be doing some in the gym stuff, demonstration videos. We’re coming up with something where we’re sketching out some kind of funny content, some entertaining stuff as well. We haven’t quite figured out how we’re gonna do it, but it’s definitely on tap for Q2. And also, there’s a really big contest coming up. We have all the details, it’s just a matter of finalizing it and getting the introductory video done. In Q2, we’re gonna launch it, this Body Spartan contest. I can’t say much about it, but I’m just gonna say it’s gonna be national, it’s gonna be big, and it’s gonna be different than anything that’s been done before.
Alex Obert: Very nice. I’d like to thank you so much for your time and I look forward to big things with Body Spartan.
Gabe Tuft: Thank you, sir! Thank you!