Amoila Cesar is a highly sought-after celebrity trainer in Los Angeles, sculpting actors, singers, rappers, and athletes into more elite versions of themselves. His current list of clients includes rapper 2 Chainz, NBA players Julius Randle and Boogie Cousins, and reality TV stars Jack Osbourne and Colton Underwood of The Bachelor. He’s also worked with hip-hop stars Drake and Ludacris and Golden State Warrior Kevon Looney, who reached out to Cesar after seeing the success he’d had with other NBA players. Cesar also makes regular appearances on the Ellen show as one of her “hunks” and exudes incredible charm for someone who gives his clients “75 minutes of hell.” Because of his charisma and skill set, Cesar has started making a name for himself in Hollywood, and his career is arcing toward him becoming just as famous as his clients. Ovation recently caught up with Cesar to discuss his work ethic, taking his shirt off for Ellen DeGeneres, and the Kardashian who most needs his help.
What was the one break or secret sauce that allowed you to become a celebrity trainer?
You just have to put out good work. I really just tried to do a good job with everyone in front of me—the housewives, the weekend warriors—and they were my business cards. The athletes and rap stars saw what I did with them, and they simply reached out to me on Instagram. They said, “I want to be next,” and that’s literally how I started. I have not reached out to any single client. Not one. Every single client I have reached out to me on social media.
The very first time a celebrity reached out to me on social media, I thought it was a hoax. I thought it was a fan page. I thought they were hacked, so I ignored it. Then they called me. The funny thing is I have no idea how they got my number. Getting a call from one of your favorite entertainers or athletes, it’s surreal.
You are all business in the gym when you are training a client, and you don’t seem afraid to challenge celebrities when they need it. Is it difficult for you to push some of these people past their comfort zone?
I think I have a different dynamic when it comes to my clients. I already come in as an authority figure because I am demanding so much from you. I am demanding you to be great, so I get to boss you around for 60 or 75 minutes of hell—and I love that. I am respected in my field, and these people reached out to me to help them achieve what they want. They are a fan of my work already, so that’s the greatest honor—to be idolized by people I idolized. I think it’s a mutual respect, and that gives me the authority level to boss these guys around.
Why don’t you tell your clients your rates when you start working with them?
I establish my value by giving them great work. I always say, “Listen, pay me after. And pay me what I’m worth.” I think when I started that philosophy, it made them appreciate me more, and I’d rather have them tell me what I’m worth because that means whatever they pay me, whether it’s too little or too high, that sets the mark and lets me know what type of trainer I am and what kind of influence I have on you. If it’s too high, that means I’m a badass trainer. If it’s too low, that reminds me I have to get better.
How did you regularly end up with your shirt off on the most popular TV talk show in the world?
A couple years ago, Ellen [DeGeneres] was looking for a replacement hunk for her main hunk, who was off shooting Magic Mike 2. A friend of mine told me to submit a photo, so I did, not thinking I had a shot at getting the job. A couple weeks later, I get a call from Warner Television; they asked me to come out and audition, so I did—and I beat out hundreds of guys—and the day I auditioned was the first day I was on the air. It was funny because once I finished the audition and got the job, they said, “Great, now take off your shirt and go onstage.”
A celebrity client who put you on the map with NBA players is Julius Randle. His career was kind of stuck until he met you, and the way you transformed his body in less than five weeks is almost legendary amongst NBA players. How did that happen?
Julius came to me, and what I love about him is he takes no days off. He’s an incredible worker. We’re cranking now at 5:30 in the morning.
He is the easiest person to coach because of his desire to get better. If I ask him to jump, he just asks how high. He is a blessing to me and a blessing to any team that he goes to. I love his work ethic, and I have a sentimental attachment to him because he really helped me spread my wings in the NBA. A lot of guys reached out to me after they saw the transformation with Julius; they all want the Julius Randle package and the results that he had.
Who’s the one celebrity client you’d love to work with?
It’s funny because I’ve been saying this for years, but if I could have one client right now that I want, it’s Rob Kardashian. I feel like he has been America’s child that we wanted to see get better. I try to work with my clients at a mentor level, as well as a trainer, because I think it’s so important to work on people’s confidence and whatever it takes to help them get back on track, and I’d love to work with Rob if he wanted me to.
To hear more about Cesar’s life as a celebrity trainer, subscribe to the One Degree of Glamorous with Tom Zenner podcast on iTunes.