Jason Kruppa

IMG_0473-webThis article originally ran in the 2014 September/October issue of Scene Magazine

Aaron Williamson is a health advisor and fitness trainer to the film industry. He has helped craft the physical transformations of Jamie Foxx in Django Unchained, Zac Efron in Neighbors and Josh Brolin in Oldboy. He recently finished molding Game of Thrones star Emilia Clarke into legendary action heroine Sarah Connor for Terminator: Genisys.

Let’s talk about the beginnings of your methodology as a trainer. Where did you first start thinking about the best way to approach transforming someone’s physique?
I never really had any intention of getting into personal training. Initially, my whole fitness journey began with wanting to be a professional body builder. In the Marine Corps, I began studying human anatomy specific to training, as well as nutrition and supplementation. But it wasn’t until years later that I was able to really showcase my approach to fitness, after destiny kind of brought me to New Orleans and I found myself in the middle of the film industry.

My approach stems from my understanding of the human body and my own personal training over the years, as I tried to work around the injuries I incurred in the Marine Corps, and then later, getting on stage as a body builder. And now, also adapting what I’ve learned to the needs of an actor who typically doesn’t like to do traditional free weight training but instead more functional training. Combine all that together and you have my approach, which I think the big screen has shown to be extremely effective.

You spent some time in Okinawa. How did that stay influence your current career path?
Anyone who’s been in the military knows this: when you go overseas to a place like Okinawa, you typically become a “PT stud” – a fitness badass who takes training seriously – or an alcoholic. It’s usually one of those two. There’s really not much to do. We get up early in the morning, do our field training, do our normal platoon or company PT (physical training). And then, during any off time, it’s not like there’s many places you can go in Okinawa, because you’re somewhat confined to the base. The gym for me really became my sanctuary. No matter how tired I was, I looked forward to it every day. In the fitness world, we call it “getting bit by the bug.” It’s when you really fall in love with and become passionate about fitness. There’s a little bit of an addiction to it. You feel good, you get those endorphins going and you see results. That’s where it all started for me, back in 1998 at Camp Schwab, Okinawa, Japan. I was there for a little over six months. I came back just a completely different person and that was due to fitness.

Now you’re in New Orleans and you are regularly working with actors that are working on movies here. You’re also traveling and consulting with people and actors who are working on movies around the world. When an actor first comes to you, what’s the first discussion you have with them? What do you ask them, and then typically what are they asking you?
First off, I ask what their character needs to look like for the film. Nine times out of ten, that’s usually why they’re training: they have to look a certain way. Once we figure out what their character needs to look like, and what their movement is throughout the film, then we address what their physical limitations are. One thing I would have never guessed is that a lot of actors have preexisting injuries of some sort. Or, they never completely healed because they are going from film to film without a break. They don’t allow themselves enough time to recover completely. So, we have to figure out what we can and cannot do. Then, we address nutrition, which is the key piece of getting them the way they need to look. Those are the three topics that we spend the most time on.

And what’s the next step? Do you put them through a series of tests to see what they’re capable of?
The first few days are an assessment in the gym. I’ll take them through a series of different exercises with free weights and doing functional plyometric stuff just to gauge their level of fitness. I need to see where they’re at endurance wise and strength wise to figure out the right exercises to incorporate in. I have to not only prevent them from becoming even more injured, but to actually strengthen where they are weak because of the injury. There’s more!

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Alegria III

by Katherine Bosio on September 11, 2010

photo by Jason Kruppa

On Saturday, September 11, New Orleans-based fashion designer John Joseph Delgadillo and a panel of highly trained fashion professionals will be selecting six designers to compete in the third annual Alegria design competition. Sponsored for the second consecutive year by The Louisiana Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (LA/SPCA), Alegria: The Fashion Show is a competitive fundraiser offering local designers the opportunity to showcase a cohesive collection of eight original designs. The winner will receive $500 in cash, a new sewing machine, a cutting table and mannequin, a full magazine spread featuring designs from the winner’s collection and more.Alegria: The Fashion Show began in 2009 when Delgadillo and local designer Aurora Knox first showed their designs in the name of animal welfare. “Alegria was much simpler then,” Louisiana SPCA event coordinator Lisa Keitges said. “It wasn’t until Alegria II, in 2010, that the LA/SCPA joined forces and we decided to add both a silent auction and a design competition,” Keitges said.

photo by Mark Glaviano

There’s more!

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THE FASHION SCENE

by Kevin Barraco on August 26, 2010

As Scene Magazine approaches its one-year anniversary, the September issue seemed the perfect opportunity to showcase the future of the fashion Scene. Over the next few weeks leading up to the September issue, we’ll be posting the best in fashion everyday with commentary from our fashion writers.

Our goal was simply to unify film, music and fashion. We enlisted designer John Delgadillo, along with fashion writers Katherine Bosio and Alisha Andrepont, to craft five photoshoots exemplifying the best in fall fashion. We carefully selected five of Louisiana’s top models, hired photographer Jason Kruppa, and began selecting looks from boutiques around New Orleans.

For our backdrops, we’ve chosen two pivotal locations in the Lower Garden District of New Orleans. A neighborhood that saw many homes and businesses shuttered after Katrina, the Lower Garden District now rises with great bravura.

Built inside of historic brick warehouses on Richards Street, Second Line Stages is New Orleans first built-for-purpose soundstage facility. A worldclass, LEED-certified green facility, Second Line was instrumental in luring Warner Bros superhero epic Green Lantern to New Orleans from Australia. The comic book movie has called Second Line home for most of 2010. Find out more about this world-class facility at www.secondlinestages.com.

Just a stone’s throw away is the Music Shed. The welcoming recording studio is quietly tucked away on Euterpe Street, and boasts a client list that includes R.E.M., Norah Jones, Robert Plant and New Orleans staples such as Dr. John and Kermit Ruffins. The Music Shed also sound serves as a resource to the film industry, a valuable resource within walking distance of Second Line. Find out more about the Music Shed at www.musicshed.net.

Together, these businesses form the cornerstone upon which an entertainment corridor is being built. And they are doing it at the center of a city that is being rebuilt.

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