Animal Planet TV show host trains for expeditions at State Street gym
It was when he was darting lions in Zimbabwe and had to dodge one charging right towards him that Forrest Galante realized he’d better start training.
“If I hadn’t had the mobility and flexibility to dodge and drop as quickly as I did, that could’ve been the end of my life,” he told the News-Press.
Luckily, the Animal Planet TV show host and wildlife biologist escaped, and has been training at Variant Training Lab in downtown Santa Barbara since February.
Mr. Galante moved to the city when he was 14 and graduated from UCSB in 2009 with a degree in biology with an emphasis in marine biology and herpetology. He is now the head of the Santa Barbara Stingrays Youth Rugby Club, a member of the spearfishing club and has a home and a boat in Santa Barbara.
He scored one of the highest primate survival ratings on Discovery’s “Naked and Afraid” in 2014, and now has his own show “Extinct or Alive,” which follows Mr. Galante as he travels the globe in a search for animals he believes have wrongfully been deemed extinct.
So far, he discovered two animal species thought to be extinct to be alive: the Zanzibar Leopard and the Fernandina Tortoise. In addition, he found six other species not presumed to be extinct but haven’t been seen in a long time, including a species of monkey, sharks and more.
With this adventurous lifestyle outdoors, spending weeks and sometimes months on expeditions diving, mountain climbing, hiking through jungles and canoeing down rivers, Mr. Galante is subject to many injuries.
“I think I’ve broken 11 bones now in total,” he said. “It’s great because every single expedition is so different — one’s in the Arctic, one’s in the jungle, one’s in the desert — that we have to prepare and train differently, so I’m very fortunate to have the resources of this place to fix me when I get back and help me get ready for the next one.”
He first limped into Variant Training Lab with a torn groin after an expedition in South Africa. Through mobility, flexibility and strength training and help recovering and healing from trainers at Variant, Mr. Galante was and has been able to bounce back from his long expeditions.
“Something we care about a lot here is how you actually move, because movement does matter,” Jacob Trapp, Mr. Galante’s trainer, told the News-Press. “A lot of times, what you’ll see in a general gym is someone doing the movement and focusing on the beginning and getting to the end, but we actually care what happens in between, because those are the things that are correlated with injury.”
Mr. Trapp said that when the TV personality feels pain, he and the other trainers have him do specific movements to relieve that pain.
“I focus on making sure that when he does do my exercises, he’s doing them in a healthy way,” he said. “The most important thing is that he’s moving correctly.”
Now, Mr. Galante trains once, and sometimes twice, every day five days a week, and said he wakes up with more energy than he used to.
The lab was established by Dr. Maury Hayashida, a local physical therapist, clinical motor behaviorist, researcher and adjunct professor. He cultivated the “Test, Treat, Train” motto for Variant, which combines strength capabilities, injury treatment and movement optimization.
“We only know what we measure,” Dr. Hayashida told the News-Press. “That was the vision coming in. If exercise is medicine as they say, it’s best to prescribe it.”
Because of that, he said physicians first examine an individual, then hold lab tests based on that data and design a custom program for the trainee.
“His (Mr. Galante’s) charisma and his personality is really the epitome of life for us. He’s living a full life,” the doctor continued. “We’re all physical beings and this is our vessel to experience it. Our goal is to optimize longevity and performance of the body.”
While COVID-19 put a slight halt on Mr. Galante’s adventures, only allowing for three endeavors, he anticipates it will kick back up in 2021, and all his training throughout the pandemic will make him ready for anything.
“I feel very fortunate that a place like this exists within Santa Barbara where I know I can come to increase mobility, flexibility, strength and train, recover and heal,” he said.
To learn more about Mr. Galante, visit his website at https://www.forrestgalante.com.
To learn more about Variant Training Lab and its services, visit https://www.varianttraininglab.com.