Mark Wahlberg: Better Than Fit

Actor takes his life and health to the next level.

By Sondra Barr

From a troubled youth that landed him in jail to a now lofty perch as Forbes third highest-paid actor of 2020, Mark Wahlberg is an authentic bad boy turned good. Achieving this rare feat had nothing to do with luck and everything to do with Wahlberg’s steely determination and tireless work ethic.

The Perfectionist

Although he’ll turn 50 next year, Wahlberg’s got more going on in his life than men half his age––and better abs too. From intense workouts and a strict diet (more on that later), to a near obsession with preparation (he’ll go over a script dozens of times before filming a scene), the only thing missing from his minutely scheduled life is a bathroom break. We know this because Wahlberg shared his typical daily routine on an Instagram Story. In a nutshell, he wakes up at 2:30 a.m. to pray, workout, eat, repeat––with strategically placed time slots dedicated to picking his kids up from school, take calls, and spend time with the family. By 7:30 p.m., Wahlberg hits the sack for another go around the following day.

According to a recent Men’s Health interview with reporter Ben Court, Wahlberg admits he works like a psychopath and has a bootcamp-like existence. “You always give 110 percent, then you will never have to live with regret,” is his reasoning.

The Delinquent

Regret is never far from Wahlberg’s mind when he thinks back to when he veered off a dark, troubled path. While Wahlberg credits working harder than everyone else as the key to his success, where he learned that lesson is well documented. He served 45 days in an adult jail as a teen for assault and hate crimes.

In a 1993 statement, Wahlberg explained of the incident: “In 1986, I harassed a group of school kids on a field trip. Many of the students were African-American. In 1988, I assaulted two Vietnamese men over a case of beer. Racist slurs and language were used during these encounters, and people were seriously hurt. I am truly sorry for what I did.”

While Wahlberg has said there is no excuse for his actions, he pointed out to The Guardian’s Sophie Heawood that growing up the youngest of nine children in Boston, being bullied by his older brothers didn’t necessarily provide the best start in life. “When I walked out my door––violence is also all that was there,” he said. “I was always in trouble, and I was kind of little. In the circumstances where I was being preyed upon, at times, I had to protect and defend myself. It’s not an easy thing to navigate as a teenage kid who’s 5 foot 2 inches, 120 pounds, with grown men.”

The Movie Star

Waking up behind bars was Wahlberg’s abrupt wake up call. He realized prison life wasn’t what he wanted for his future. Payer and working out became his source of strength. When he got out of jail, he vowed to never return. “Instead of hanging out on the corner, I’d go to the gym,” he told Men’s Health for a 2005 cover story. “The gym was the exact opposite direction of trouble.”

The time in the gym paid off handsomely––pun intended. Buff, shirtless, and emanating a well-honed Boston ’tude, he busted into our collective consciousness as rapper Marky Mark and hasn’t left since (thankfully, the MM moniker has). For most rappers (unless you’re Will Smith, of course), it’s a far stretch from rapping out “Good Vibrations” to starring in blockbuster movies. We’re talking about Mark Wahlberg here, don’t forget. He does what it takes to get what he wants and being a star, well, that’s what he had his sights set on––at least initially.

Wahlberg estimates he’s been in nearly 60 films. Transformers: Age of Extinction (2014), Ted (2012), The Fighter (2010), Lone Survivor (2013), The Perfect Storm (2000), and Boogie Nights (1997) are perhaps his most memorable (and lucrative) ones.

“You do whatever it takes to become the part. So that means if you got to go to a SEAL boot camp for two weeks or you got to go on a fishing boat and hunt for tuna,” he said to Court about his approach to his varied roles.

The Businessman

Based on what you’ve read so far, it’s not surprising that being “just” a movie star wasn’t the end goal for Wahlberg. He’s all about the big picture and diversification. He has two production companies: Closest to the Hole and Unrealistic Ideas, which are behind an impressive list of shows including Entourage (based on Wahlberg’s early career), Ballers, Boardwalk Empire, and McMillion$.

“It’s one thing to have a career and wake up every day thinking, Okay, what’s the next job?” Wahlberg said for a 2010 Men’s Health profile. “But I want to build something that can last forever, something that my kids could venture into if they’re interested.” He’s giving his kids lots of options, duh!

If you’ve driven past a Wahlburgers, he’s part owner of the namesake casual burger and bar restaurant chain that just opened up their 46th location––in Key West, Florida, in August––during a pandemic, no less. Side note: the chain also inspired the aptly titled Wahlburgers reality show that chronicled Chef Paul Wahlberg and his famous younger siblings (there’s Mark, of course, but also Donnie Wahlberg) as they launched the now ubiquitous burger chain. Because, why not?

Wahlberg also has ownership in Aussie-based gym chain F45 (find out how you can try their workouts at home in the sidebar); Performance Inspired, a supplement company he co-founded with a former GNC executive; and a Chevy dealership. If that weren’t enough, he launched an athleisure brand called Municipal in July.

Let’s just say Wahlberg hasn’t been slacking this year. And, while you might feel a tinge of envy hearing that he’s been quarantining with his wife and four kids in a Beverly Hills mansion complete with pool, golf course, basketball court, and gigantic home gym, don’t forget, he’s earned it, the only way he knows how, with hard work. And, yes, from what we’ve read he’s still waking up 2:30 a.m. while in quarantine.

“The only way to do this is the right way. You can’t cut corners in life. You might get away with it here or there but ultimately if you want anything with real substance, with a real solid foundation…you gotta work,” he said in an interview with The Tuff Juice with Caron Butler podcast.

The Philanthropist

As he approaches the back nine of his life, Wahlberg is mindful that he has the power to do good and perhaps right (or at least assuage) the wrongs of his youthful transgressions. “All the success and all the things that I achieved, guess what? You can’t take it with you,” he told Men’s Health in 2020.

Which is why in 2001, Mark and one of his brothers, Jim, established The Mark Wahlberg Youth Foundation. According to the foundation’s website, it was established “For the purpose of raising and distributing funds to youth service and enrichment programs.” Over the years, MWYF has raised more than $10,000,000 for organizations across the country, it’s also built basketball courts in the Boston area for Boys and Girls clubs. Meanwhile, MWYF holds annual events like summer camp, which provides kids from the Boston inner city area the opportunity to experience Maine for a week of classic camp activities and an annual Christmas party with Santa that gives thousands of gifts to youth every year.

“There’s no luggage racks on a hearse, right? What do you do with it? How do you make the most change and move the needle in the most ways? I didn’t have to look any further than out my window where I grew up,” he said. “I didn’t have to say, ‘Is there a crisis in the world that I can get involved with––you know, rain forests, animals, and all this stuff.’”

“I know that God didn’t bless me with all this to say, ‘Forget about where you come from and just go off and do you and have a great life.’”

Super Fit After 40
Mark Wahlberg takes his workouts to the next level. You can too!

After going to a F45 class, Wahlberg was hooked. “I’m a fitness fanatic and I fell in love with F45 after I walked into a gym and saw people from all walks of life, all levels of fitness, working out together.”

The F stands for functional training, a mix of circuit and HIIT-style workouts learned towards everyday movement; 45 is the total amount of time for sweat-dripping, heart-pumping fun, according to the company’s website.

To try free F45 workouts, head to YouTube and search F45.