Students who have been flocking to the Stephens Fitness Center seeking a high-quality exercise regimen worthy of a celebrity now can work out with the help of one.
Michael Greenblatt, a new Dillon Gym fitness supervisor, is a model and actor who has worked with soap opera star Susan Lucci and knows heavyweight boxing champion Joe Frazier.
Previously a trainer at Monmouth University in West Long Branch, N.J., where he attended college, Greenblatt said his interest in acting began 10 years ago when he was a contestant on "Wheel of Fortune."
"I didn't touch the wheel too much," he said. "But that experience on 'Wheel of Fortune' made me realize how much I enjoyed being in front of the camera."
With his new interest in show business, Greenblatt sent packages of photos and a resume to acting and modeling agencies but received no job offers. Instead, he hit the jackpot in a pageant in 1992.
"I heard about the Mr. New Jersey contest. I thought it would be good exposure for me to start a modeling and acting career," he said. Little did he know that he would win the competition and serve as Mr. New Jersey for almost two years.
Greenblatt's first acting job was as Lucci's fitness trainer on two episodes of the soap opera, "All My Children." At the time, Greenblatt had not yet started his career as a trainer. "They thought that because I was Mr. New Jersey, I would know what I was doing in the gym," Greenblatt said.
During the O.J. Simpson trial in 1995, Greenblatt's colleagues at Monmouth noticed that he resembled Ronald Goldman — Nicole Brown Simpson's friend — especially when he came to the gym with his hair wet from taking a shower. "I realized, 'Boy, I could make myself look like Ron Goldman if I wanted to.' "
Greenblatt sent photographs of himself dressed like Goldman to several agencies and was chosen as "the number one look alike" to act in a television movie. Unfortunately, the movie never aired because of legal issues, he said.
Nevertheless, Greenblatt continued to pursue a career in acting and appeared in three movies. He played a businessman in "Deep Impact," a bodyguard to Christopher Reeve in the television movie "Rear Window" and a politician in the upcoming movie, "The Yards."
Greenblatt said being an actor requires persistence and politeness. "When I do land a job — for a TV show or a magazine — I send them thank-you letters whether I'm being considered or actually landing the job," he said. "You must be yourself — polite and courteous — and also make yourself known."
Greenblatt, who began working as a fitness supervisor six years ago, said his two careers "go hand in hand." He works the early shift at the University fitness center so he can have time to work on his modeling and acting in the afternoon.
He also credits his fitness career for some contacts he has made. "You never know who's going to come into the gym," he said, adding that he once spent more than an hour training actress Rhea Perlman when she walked into Monmouth's gym. Greenblatt said he slipped her his photograph as she left.
Greenblatt added that fitness training keeps him in shape as a model and actor. Each day, he runs three to five miles, does 500 sit-ups and lifts weights three-to-five times a week. Because his commute from the New Jersey shore to Princeton takes more than an hour, he has to start his workout early — usually at 3 a.m.
Considering the many unusual jobs he has had— from being a Ron Goldman look-alike to serving as Mr. New Jersey — Greenblatt reflected, "My life is so wild."