Friday, December 03, 2010

Adding Muscle to Our Cause




An interview with fitness model and ‘Real World’ ally Scott Herman

By Steve Charing

You may remember Scott Herman as the aw-shucks hunk on The Real World: Brooklyn. That intense show first aired in January 2009 and featured an eclectic cast that included a Mormon, an abused woman, an Iraq veteran, gay man, a bisexual and an openly transgender woman. Scott was one of the straight people in the house.

At the age of 12, Scott began lifting weights, and then at 14, he held various jobs at Gold’s Gym in Methuen, Massachusetts. After eventually being promoted to manager, he became a personal trainer at 18 and has been training men and woman of all ages ever since.

Before moving to Brooklyn to appear on The Real World, Scott not only managed the fitness department and sales department for “Answer Is Fitness” located in North Attleboro, MA, but he also developed and ran a highly successful DJ company called “Galaxy DJ’s”. In addition to this work, Scott attended and received his BA in Business from Merrimack College in North Andover, MA. Concurrently, he acquired his real estate and financial advising licenses.

Scott’s modeling career really started to take off his senior year of college after he entered and won the Men’s Health “Iron Abs” contest in November 2007. He made a series of personal appearances and began traveling to New York City for castings and other events, and the more he became acquainted with the city, the more his interest in becoming a professional model/actor grew.

In December 2007, Scott sent his audition tape into The Real World: Brooklyn and was selected from a pool of approximately 50,000 to 70,000 applicants. He moved into the Real World house six months later and, as a result, he stayed in Manhattan. He has since relocated to New Hampshire.

Scott, 26, is also an accomplished athlete and enjoys sports such as wresting, soccer, running cross country, boxing and kickboxing. He spends his days going to castings, the gym, and updating his fitness website.

Scott Herman is also a dedicated ally in the quest for LGBT rights and recently joined the NoH8 campaign and The Trevor Project—an organization dedicated to prevent LGBT teen suicides.

Just before Thanksgiving, Scott was kind enough to take time out of his busy schedule to be interviewed for Baltimore OUTloud following one of his workouts to discuss his Real World experience, his career and his activism on behalf of the LGBT community.

Steve Charing: When you started lifting weights as a teenager, did you ever have any idea that you would eventually be an international celebrity—especially in the fitness world?

Scott Herman: I had no idea. My goal at the time was to become big and strong like the superheroes in my comic books that I idolized.

SC: The general public first became acquainted with you on The Real World: Brooklyn. How did that experience help transform your life?

SH: The Real World: Brooklyn gave me a crash course on social media and kind “threw” me into the middle of the entertainment world. The show allowed me to take GIANT steps in my journey to becoming who I am today by allowing me to network with a lot of great people. I was always taught to listen and learn and believe me I learned as much as I could from everyone I met!

SC: Throughout the episodes of Real World, you were one of the very few who interacted positively with the only transgender person ever to be in the cast, Katelynn. What set you apart from the other roommates?

SH: I was brought up by my parents to treat everyone I meet with respect, especially if they are good people. But I think the main difference was that I wasn’t looking to draw attention to myself or to anyone else while on the show. My goal was to go there, make some new friends, and pursue my goals whether they got me camera time or not. At the end of the day, I know what it is like to be bullied and picked on. That was the whole reason I started working out in the first place; because I was a victim of it myself. So by nature I don’t pick on others, I prefer to make new friends instead.

SC: My recollection of these episodes is that Kat seemed to have caused a lot of tension. Would you care to comment on that?

SH: Katelynn sure liked to stir the pot. I love her; she is one of my close friends, but even SHE will admit to that! Katelynn is a genius… seriously. She is extremely smart, enjoys playful banter, and knows how to make it happen (smiles).

SC: The show only offered occasional glimpses of your sculptured body. Were the producers unaware of how appealing your physique would be?

SH: I realized that the producers didn’t have too much air time with me because I wasn’t a “controversial” roommate. Maybe if I had been more outspoken I would have had more air-time, but to be honest I was still working on coming out of my shell while on the show. My season was focused on transgender awareness and Iraq Veteran “abuse,” which I think are two greater causes than how ripped my abs are (smiles). So I wasn’t bothered by it. Rather, I am blessed to have been a part of such an amazing experience.

SC: As a straight man, you have taken up LGBT equality and anti-bullying as significant causes in your life. When did you first realize that these issues were important to you?

SH: When I was 12 and was constantly picked on at school. I decided that I was going to get big and strong so that I could protect myself and my loved ones. I just don’t put up with negative people and I am not afraid to jump in the middle of any kind of bullying even if it has nothing to do with me. I take pride in being able to protect those who can’t fend for themselves. We are all here for a reason; maybe my purpose is to be a shield for those who can’t wield a sword.

SC: Having an ally such as you for LGBT issues is critical for the movement. How are you using your celebrity to effect change?

SH: I am just “being me.” By this I mean, yes I go out of my way to talk about LGBT rights; but also in my daily interactions I lead by example. My community page on Facebook has an EXTREMELY large portion that is gay male [oriented], and if they leave comments on photos saying I look good I say, “Thank you.”

I believe leading by example is just as important as talking about equality. I have also gotten involved with some amazing organizations such as The Trevor Project. I recently gave a speech at an event for the foundation and talked about how bullying was a big part of my life and that is how I can relate to the recent attacks in the LGBT community. George Takei was also a speaker there, and it was great to listen and learn from him as well. He is an amazing public speaker.

SC: Your involvement with The Trevor Project was clearly motivated by the recent spate of suicides by LGBT teens. What, in your view, is needed to combat bullying in schools and in the workplace?

SH: People need to “grow a pair.” Seriously, there is power in numbers. Straight men and woman are SO WORRIED about being labeled “GAY” that they don’t want to stick up for someone being bullied even if they know it is the right thing to do. Also, there is no HONOR or PRIDE in “turning the cheek,” or “walking away” from a bully, especially if you CAN do something about it. People need to realize that when they ignore a bully they just go find someone else to pick on. If we start to band together against the people who have hatred in their hearts then maybe they will be too scared to find another victim.

SC: As to your fitness career and your website, many theories have evolved over the years regarding weight training techniques. Would you mention some of the recent changes in thinking that you offer and what are some of the myths in weight training?

SH: The fitness industry is CONSTANTLY changing. My goal is to help people to understand that there are MILLIONS of different ways to train the body and that I am going to do my best to find experts in as many areas as possible so there will always be fun new workouts to try. But my BIGGEST pet peeve is when people think that CARDIO is the answer to weight loss. NOOOOOO, a proper MEAL PLAN and Circuit Training are the way to lose weight. So if you have questions, join the most positive community on Facebook and let us help you reach your goals!

SC: Have you kept in touch with the cast of Real World? How did Ryan eventually make out in Iraq?

SH: I talk to Chet all the time and he is doing great things. He has his own YouTube channel and does very well. He is also in the midst of starting a clothing line. I am VERY excited for him! I talk to JD and Ryan at least once a month and Baya and Katelynn too. Sarah—I haven’t heard from in a while because she has been doing challenges and Devyn—I haven’t heard from since I left NYC last September. Ryan made it out of Iraq safe and sound and is now in school, living with his new girlfriend, and traveling around the country giving speeches about his time in Iraq and promoting his book An Angel from Hell.

SC: So is there a book by Scott Herman in the future?

SH: Yeah, I’ve been thinking about it.