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Studio shot of Harley Pasternak in a black long-sleeved shirt, smiling
Photo courtesy of Harley Pasternak

Harley Pasternak Inc.

The Hollywood fitness guru and former U of T grad student turns his marketing game up a notch

He’s been training celebrities for years. Now Harley Pasternak (MSc 2000) wants to make it easier for average folk to have the body of a star.

The 35-year-old author of 5-Factor Fitness and 5-Factor Diet was in Toronto in October to promote his new line of fitness products, which includes a unique kind of barbell that he launched recently on QVC in the U.S. and the Shopping Channel in Canada.

Pasternak says the so-called “Harley bar” is a four-piece weight that can be used as a bar alone, a barbell, or as dumbbells. “My clients are always in a hotel room or in their trailer on set and they need something that provides a variety of excercises,” he says.

At the same time, Pasternak is also promoting a snack bar that he developed drawing on his background in nutritional science and 5-Factor principles. All 5-Factor snacks have at least five grams of fibre and 10 grams of protein, and less than 10 grams of sugar, he says.

Pasternak’s fondness for the number five sounds gimmicky, but it’s based on solid health and nutritional advice. His 5-Factor program calls for five 25-minute workouts a week. The 5-Factor diet requires adherents to eat five daily meals requiring no more than five ingredients and five minutes of prep time. True to form, Pasternak guarantees results in five weeks.

Yet, in an age where people often want a quick fix (cabbage soup diet anyone?), Pasternak says he is not out to sell gimmicks. He argues that almost everyone can find 25 minutes a day to exercise and five minutes to prepare a meal. Pasternak says his aim is to “eliminate barriers” for people who want to lead a healthier lifestyle.

Long before he became a fitness guru and worked with a Hollywood who’s who, Pasternak did graduate study at U of T – a time he calls his “nerd years.”

While attending U of T, Pasternak teamed up with the Defence and Civil Institute of Environmental Medicine at Downsview military base, where he helped test subjects’ muscular strength and muscular endurance after being exposed to high doses of caffeine and ephedrine. Outside the lab, says Pasternak, he was the “gym guy.”

“I had two different vocabularies,” he says. “During the day I would use words like ‘efficacy.’ Early morning and late at night I would use words like ‘sets and reps.'” Pasternak cites his MSc degree on all his diet and fitness books, credentials few other celebrity trainers have.

Having made the leap to self-branding, Pasternak says he wants to take on health and fitness issues globally. “I never get tired of helping people transform their bodies. Celebrities or not,” he says. “My next goal is more about getting the country healthy, the world healthy. What gets me more excited now is more of a global perspective on obesity.”

Alumni portrait video:

Harley Pasternak discusses his U of T experience

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