Actor Robert Patrick works to stay fit — but those 6 a.m. call times can be killer

Like many of us, Robert Patrick says finding the time to work out is a chronic issue.
(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

The liquid-metal death robot in “Terminator 2” was virtually indestructible. But actor Robert Patrick, 58, feels the pain of being human.

“I’m developing more injuries as time goes by,” said Patrick, who played the liquid-metal T-1000 in 1991. He specifically mentioned an issue with the bursa in his right hip. “Every time I was jogging it flared up.”

A cortisone shot and stretching regimen under the guidance of an orthopedist helped, but he’s traded jogging for fast walking on a treadmill, set at an incline. “I walk about as fast as I used to jog anyway,” he said.


But there are other aspects of fitness that make Patrick as human as the next man: the demands of job and family make sticking to a regular regimen a challenge.

“I admire movie stars who are incredibly fit,” he said. “I know what it’s like to have six-pack abs, but it’s damn near impossible to maintain that all the time. My biggest challenge is staying active with the schedule I have.”

Patrick described working 12-hour days on the set of the CBS show “Scorpion,” which has its Season 4 premiere this Monday, and described how early he needs to rise to get in an hour-long workout and still be on set by 6 a.m.

“It’s a battle I don’t always win,” Patrick said of waking so early. In addition to the treadmill, he rides a stationary bike, uses a rowing machine, does martial arts on a heavy bag, and has free weights and a bench.

“If I didn’t have all that stuff at home, I don’t know when I’d do it,” he said.

Robert loves his job and is grateful for the work, and says the job itself can be a workout.


“The job is physically demanding,” he said. “There is not a lot of sitting.”

But there is action. He described repeated takes of sprinting — chasing a bad guy 20 years his junior — for one scene. Although there is a gym on set, it’s hard for Patrick to partake.

“I wear a suit on the show,” he said. “If I get too sweaty there is the process of the makeup and the hair again.”

For many an actor, the concept of endless access to trainers and personal chefs is a myth. “If I asked a trainer to show up at my house at 4 a.m., he’d say, ‘What?’”

Patrick faces many of the same challenges any working family man does, including the age-related owies.

“Football and baseball dominated my childhood,” he said. “I’ve been fit my whole life, but as I get older it’s about dealing with injuries.”

I know what it’s like to have six-pack abs, but it’s damn near impossible to maintain.... My biggest challenge is staying active with the schedule I have.”

— Robert Patrick


And since he can’t train like he did in his Terminator days, “I find myself more focused on diet to stay lean and mean.”

A multitude of surveys state the No. 1 reason people give for not exercising is lack of time. Patrick still manages, but not at the level he’d prefer.

“If I had my druthers, I’d go back to Gold’s Gym and do the cross-training with weights I used to do when I was on the CBS show ‘The Unit.’ I put on a lot of muscle and really enjoyed that.”

But for right now, he said of starring on “Scorpion,” “I want to fit in the suits they make for me.”

Fell is a certified strength and conditioning specialist and owner of



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