How To Get Prison Fit With Danny Trejo

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Danny, how often do you train?
I try to get to the gym three times a week, but when you're always on the move sometimes you have to do a little prison workout - press-ups, dips on the toilet and press-ups on the sink.
What was your typical prison workout?
We'd get to go to the yard and work with the weights - but my workout was mostly callisthenic because I was a boxer.
Where did you learn to box?
I had an uncle who used to fight in [amateur boxing contest] Golden Gloves. When I was eight years old, he was about 13. By then he was already a pretty good boxer. I want to say I was his sparring partner, but I was really his punching bag. So I either had to learn to defend myself or get my brains beat in.
Did that prove useful when you were in prison?
Oh yeah. Boxing in jail literally made me a celebrity. When you get in there and everyone knows you're a fighter they'll match you up with all the best fighters around. I was the lightweight and welterweight champion of every institution I was in back in the day.

How many was that?
Oh, there was San Quentin, Folsom, Soledad - those were the three major prisons. I was also in Sierra.
How did you get out of that life?
It was almost mathematical. I thought, every time I've been arrested there was alcohol and drugs involved. Every time. It was black and white. So it was clear to me what I needed to do. I got out of the pen in 1969 and cleaned up my act.
So how did you get into films?
I was a drug counsellor and one of the kids I was working with called me at 11 one night and asked if I could come down to his job because he said there was a lot of blow around. The kid was working as a PA on a movie set. So I'm there and this guy comes up to me and asks if I'd like to be an extra and I was, like, 'An extra what?' And he said, 'Can you act like a convict?' I thought it was a joke.
You've played a lot of convicts...
For the first few years of my acting career I never had a name [laughs]. I was always, 'Prisoner Number One' or 'Bad Guy'. The first name I ever got was in the movie Death Wish 4 and I was 'Art Sanella'. I loved it.

Do you find that people in the street tend to give you a lot of space when they pass you?
Yeah. But I don't look like a normal person walking down the street. I look like I just got out of prison. I have to remember that. On Sundays, when it's warm outside, I'll train at Muscle Beach with my buddy Craig Munson, who's a former Mr World, just so kids can meet me and I can sign autographs. I don't want the kids to be scared of me.
Which is tougher: San Quentin or Hollywood?
Well, the difference is, if somebody disrespects you in San Quentin, you stab 'em. In Hollywood, if somebody disrespects you, you move on to the next movie.

Coach Staff

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