In the fitness world, Greg Plitt was a legend. Loved by both fans and those he worked with, Plitt’s gregarious laughter and indomitable personality left impressions with everyone he met. From fitness to movies, business to fun, Plitt could do it all.
Fitness was in Plitt’s bones
Plitt discovered a love for fitness as a young age. Born in Baltimore, Maryland, Plitt joked about how his father gave him a choice between reading and working out, and the young Baltimore native chose the workouts. In an interview with Iron Man Magazine, Plitt describes the start of his lifelong love with fitness,”…One summer I was supposed to read so many books to advance from the second to third grade. My dad would come home from work, see me playing ball and ask how the extra reading sessions were going. I told him I was too busy to look at books; I was playing sports all day. That didn’t go over so well.
He gave me a choice: I could either read for 30 minutes a day or do 100 laps in the pool, 300 situps and 300 pushups. I took the workouts. After two weeks he upped the ante, adding 100 laps, situps and pushups. Eventually we were able to agree on more reading and a bit less workout, but what I learned when I eventually got back to the playing field was that I was quicker, faster and stronger than the other kids. From an early age I saw what the benefits of working out were, and I incorporated that throughout my life.”
Plitt went from wrestler to West Point grad
Young Plitt competed in high school as a wrestler, and earned accolades as both a state and national champion. After high school, Plitt eschewed an offer from the United States Naval Academy in close-to-home Annapolis. Instead, Plitt chose to attend the United States Military Academy in West Point, New York. Plitt described the choice and experience to Iron Man, “…they have 30,000 candidates each year and take only a thousand. It was a $250,000 education, paid for by the government. I got offers from both the Naval Academy and West Point, but everybody thought I was just going to go to Annapolis because [my sister] Virginia was there, and it was close to home.
That really bothered me. I do admit, though, I did have a big fear of leaving home, being away from my family. They are my temple, my foundation. In the end, I felt that being on my own, not close to home, and having to fend for myself if I hit rock bottom would build the intestinal fortitude that would make me a better person in the long run.
I wrestled at West Point for a year, but the first year is so intense, my grades were dropping—we did seven hours of training a day. As a plebe I had to do the upper classmen’s laundry and shine the floors, memorize the front page and the sports page of The New York Times, clean the toilets—stuff like that—along with my own duties. It would have taken about 54 hours in a day to do all of that and wrestle as well, and there are only 24 hours. It was pretty overwhelming, but you find out that you may fail as an individual, but as a team you will succeed. The expression at West Point is, you need to ‘cooperate to graduate.'”
After West Point, Plitt served 5 years
From West Point graduation, the second lieutenant served in multiple places, including Fort Bragg, Fort Benning, Afghanistan, Korea, and then back closer to home in Washington D.C. Plitt continued to pursue his love for fitness, and as an Army Ranger he found a strength deep inside of himself that matched his outward strength and he became a role model for the platoon members he led in Korea. In the Iron Man interview, Plitt explains what it was like to serve in Korea and how it felt to lead, “…Here I was, 22 years old in Korea, in charge of 45 guys. I was the second-youngest person but was the platoon leader. It was considered a hostile area; we were on the DMZ, which separates North and South Korea. Shots were fired every day across the lines. You’re dealing with soldiers who are away from their families. Some of them came from the streets, were given a choice between jail and the Army.
You become their role model; I ended up being a marriage counselor, a financial adviser. Slowly the attitude is gone and is replaced with pride. It was like a positive cancer, spreading through the company. Being a part of something so much bigger than yourself, that collective group, was so empowering. It was the greatest time in my life.”
After the Army, it was time for the ‘Big Apple’
After Plitt served his mandatory 5 years with the Army, he opted to walk away. The future fitness titan talked about how he had once dated a woman in New York who worked as an actress. Plitt was fascinated by her ability to become someone else when she practiced lines, and described how the experience with his ex turned a light bulb on in his head. Once he left the Army, Plitt went on to New York and began his career as a fitness and model mega-star. The young veteran described his quick success once arriving in New York; he told Iron Man, “[After a week in New York]…A friend called and told me Robert De Niro was casting a movie and that I should call my agent and try to get them to see me. I told him I didn’t have an agent. I asked him for the address and went down there. I made up an agency number, using my cell phone number. I sat there for an hour, then got a reading, and the next thing I knew I got booked for a scene with De Niro and Matt Damon in ‘The Good Shepherd.’
I got a cover with a major magazine after my first test shoot as a model and ended up with some lines in a major movie the first time I went for it. You can imagine how stoked that got me. No more doubt—that really sparked the fire in me to become an actor.”
Coast to coast: Plitt packed up and moved
But soon, Plitt had gone as far as he could in New York and packed his bags for sunny Los Angeles. The actor and model told Iron Man about his decision to pick up and move, “When I would come out to L.A. for a shoot, I would shop around—agencies, places to live. I knew I would move there someday but wasn’t sure exactly when. I had a dream one night when I was still in New York about doing a major film or photo shoot. I woke up about 5 a.m. and said, “I’m in the wrong frickin’ city; I have to get out of here.”
I worked out at the gym in the building for an hour, came back up, took pictures of the place I was leasing, put them on Craig’s list at about seven o’clock and got a call around 8:30 from somebody interested in looking at the place. He came over at 11, loved the place and asked when he could move in. I told him that, along with the room, he would have to take the bed, the desk, this and that…. He said he’d take it all.
I told him he could move in at six that same night. I took a cab to Brooklyn, rented a U-Haul with my pit bull, Quest, who I rescued a couple of months earlier [last year Plitt added Gunnar to the family]. I drove to Maryland, where I had all my stuff in storage. I called a girl I’d met in L.A., flew her to Maryland, and she made the cross-country trip with Quest and me. That was March 2006.
My first place out here was Marilyn Monroe’s old apartment in Hollywood—Harper and Sunset—and people who were looking at the star map would come up and look into the window. What did they see? This pit bull, barking his ass off; shortly after that I got evicted because I wasn’t supposed to have pets. Same story with the next place, so I ended up buying a house.”
From stardom to mega-stardom
Plitt soon became a giant name in fitness and modeling, even as his acting career skyrocketed. The young up-and-comer became a sponsored athlete for MET-Rx, Under Armor Performance Apparel, and Gold’s Gym. According to the bio on his website, Plitt starred in over 25 national commercials, for brands like Old Spice, Dodge, ESPN, Under Armor, and numerous infomercials. Once he moved to Los Angeles, Plitt’s acting career hit both the big and small screen as appeared in TV shows like Bravo’s Workout, HGTV’s Designed to Sell, NBC’s Days of Our Lives, and WE’s Mystery Millionaire. On the big screen, Plitt starred in huge films like, “The Good Shepherd,” “Terminator Salvation,” and, “The Grudge Match.”
Not just a pretty face, Plitt’s fitness endeavors became legendary
Plitt’s career in fitness earned him approbation from peers and fans, and he was hired as the face of Thierry Mugler’s Angel Men and Ice Men. Plitt was on a fitness magazine cover every month in a row for 5 years straight, breaking records. The fitness star was named one of the, “25 Fittest Americans,” by Men’s Fitness Magazine, alongside other well-known names like Will Smith and former President Barack H Obama. He was named, “One of the 60 Sexiest men Alive,” alongside Daniel Craig and David Beckham, and won, “Best Male Physique on TV,” for the Star Physique awards.
Maintaining a diet and working out weren’t jobs
Iron Man quotes him discussing his diet and workouts, “When you’re in great shape, you go through life in fifth gear, not in fourth. When others are walking through life, you’re running through it! I love living a healthy lifestyle; I love to be active. To me, the things I do outside the gym are just fun. I don’t consider them to be a workout, per se.
I have had days off, but I’ve never planned them. They happen on their own accord—usually things I can’t control—about once a week. Basically, though, I have a blissful lifestyle. I don’t consider what I do as a ‘job.’ I don’t work out just to try and look good; I do it for the journey and for the confidence it gives me.”
Plitt dabbled successfully in the world of business
Plitt also helped launch several successful businesses and spoke as a motivational speaker. Plitt’s website also tells of a man who loved to skydive, logging over 2,500 jumps, and golfing. His physique was also used as the model for Mr. Manhattan in the hit movie, “Watchmen.”
More than his accomplishments, Plitt improved the lives of those around him
Plitt wasn’t just well-known for the things he accomplished though. His personality and penchant for hard work and dedication earned him the respect and love of fans and peers alike. After Plitt passed away tragically while filming a video in 2015, Inside Fitness shared the words of those who had the pleasure of working alongside the fitness star, and they paint a picture of a man who was kind, dedicated, hard-working, and beloved. One personal trainer and model, Tyler Best, told IF, “I am deeply saddened to hear of Greg’s passing. Greg was a close friend and mentor. He was fearless, driven, and always told you how it was. Never at a loss for ideas, he always lived life with such zeal, more than anyone I’ve ever met. Oftentimes, we would sit at his house and just bounce ideas on how he could better reach and connect with his fans. Passionate and humble in all his endeavors, those who were close enough to call him ‘friend’ knew how solid he was. I will miss his laugh, his advice, and his uncanny ability to have a good time no matter where we were. Cheers to a legend, a friend, a soldier, a leader.”
IF cover model, Frank Sepe, shared these words with IF, “I, like everyone else, was saddened and shocked by the death of Greg Plitt. I had the pleasure of working with Greg for over a decade, and I could honestly say he was one of a kind. What made him so successful and separated him from the pack was his ability to lead. They say that leaders who are admired and respected have earned that admiration and respect. He didn’t follow a blueprint to get to the top; he led by example and did things his way. Well, this leader’s way positively affected the lives of a countless number of people. The dead are never dead to us, until we have forgotten them. Greg, you will never be forgotten. Rest in peace, my friend.”
Plitt wanted to be busy, and loved the bustle of his career
A true legend in the fitness and modeling world, Plitt was loved by those around him. Although he died young, he leaves behind a legacy of hard work, record-breaking accomplishments, and leadership for those who knew him. Wrapping up his interview with Iron Man, Plitt left fans with this line in regard to a question asked by the interviewer on where he would be 2 years from then, “Hard to get hold of, I hope, and with people having to get hold of my publicist a month in advance to set things up. [Laughs] Seriously, you’ll find me with a smile on my face. I will always be hungry, no matter what success I may have had, always pushing to get to the next level.”