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Taylor Kitsch: The Men's Health Interview

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Taylor Kitsch talks about the return of Friday Night Lights (tonight), as well as his charity work, why it's important to be a role model for kids, and how he motivates himself to work out in the new Men's Health.

Taylor Kitsch Picture

In his breakout season as the volatile fullback Tim Riggins, Taylor Kitsch appeared on the cover of Men's Health in January, showing us how to eat our way to a six-pack.

Last month, he took part in the Nautica Malibu Triathlon, which benefits Children's Hospital Los Angeles, but not just to show off his abs. Taylor is out to support fitness activities for kids.

In an interview with Men's Health, Kitsch talks about childhood obesity and the magazine's new initiative, Men's Health FitSchools. His advice can also help you shape up, too.

Men's Health: What can we expect in the premiere of Friday Night Lights?
Taylor Kitsch: Some intense stuff happens in the first episode with Landry (Jesse Plemons) and Tyra (Adrianne Pilicki). It's going to shape their characters for the rest of the season. I'm excited to see it myself.

Men's Health: How about the rest of the season?
Taylor Kitsch: Episode 2 might be more intense than the first. Tim Riggins is even more lost this year. He goes to Mexico with Jason Street (Scott Porter) and he lets loose. Last year, Riggins was very dark, but there's better balance this year. At times, he's comic relief, but there's also a serious matter with his best friend who has an idea to go for stem cell surgery, which he thinks will probably make him walk the next week. His friend has tunnel vision, so he's trying to figure out how to get through to him.

Men's Health: Is the mood as intense on set as it is in the show?
Taylor Kitsch: We have a lot of fun when we shoot the football scenes. Kyle Chandler (who plays Coach Taylor on Friday Night Lights) and I chuck the ball around in between takes. Just yesterday I was thinking, 'Man, I'm getting paid to throw the ball around and run routes.' I just laughed. It's really fun.

Men's Health: Growing up, did you have a coach like Eric Taylor?
Taylor Kitsch: I played junior hockey and I got traded to the worst team in the league. I didn't want to go over there, but it was truly a blessing in disguise because my coach was an amazing man. He was really personable and very non-judgmental. That's what Coach Taylor is like. He listens and gives you his best advice. You don't feel like you're being judged when you talk to him, and I think that's so commendable for any coach or teacher.

Men's Health: You've been doing commendable work yourself. Tell us about your charity work for children.
Taylor Kitsch: I went into the Children's Hospital in L.A. a little over a year ago and it changed me. Ever since then I've been working with the hospital whenever I can. The Nautica Malibu Triathlon this year was great, just being around the kids and fitness. The kids had a little race and I handed out medals to them. So they're super excited already and then when they come to the finish line and see the medal, they just freeze. Just seeing their faces and talking to them, you get their sense of energy and life. It's a great feeling. I think I get more out of it than they do.

Men's Health: Three of the 10 fattest cities for kids are in Texas, where you live. Why is everything and everyone bigger in Texas?
Taylor Kitsch: Austin has to be the most active city in Texas. But you drive through these small towns and all you see are fast food chains. It's frustrating at times because so many kids are getting diagnosed as clinically depressed before they're 10 years old. There's a reason for that depression that goes beyond friends - it's what we're eating, and being sedentary.

Men's Health: Are you involved in any health programs for kids like Men's Health FitSchools?
Taylor Kitsch: Not yet, but it's definitely something we're working towards. I'd like to help kids inside the hospital and outside, as well. I usually go in the children's hospital and talk and read to kids who are terminally ill.

Men's Health: Why is it important for you to be a healthy role model for kids?
Taylor Kitsch: Video games and computers have become babysitters for kids. Parents have to lead by example. I have two little sisters and I help my mom raise them. You just try to give them knowledge piece by piece and tell them, '[By eating well and being active,] you're going to feel a lot better about yourself, you're going to be able to do better at school, you're going to have more energy in sports.' I think it's about self-empowerment, as well - giving kids choices. It starts with coaches, teachers, and especially parents, by living healthy themselves.

Men's Health: Okay, let's talk about your workout. How do you motivate yourself to train hard early in the morning?
Taylor Kitsch: I'm not a morning person, but you're never going to regret going to the gym. When you have your workout behind you, you feel a lot better. You have this energy that probably 90 percent of people aren't going to have today because they didn't do it. It just gives you a kick-start. It's also time to clear my head before the day. Especially if you're dealing with work or personal crap, it just gives you that stress relief. Take it out on the weights, go for a hard run.

Men's Health: What's your favorite abs exercise?
Taylor Kitsch: You're on your butt and your knees are right by your chest; your feet are off the floor. Your buddy has a 10-pound medicine ball and he literally chucks it at you for 90 seconds. You're throwing it as hard as you can back to him and he's calling you out as you do that. If you give one throw back that's a rainbow, he'll whip it at you harder. It's really high intensity. You want to get up and punch the guy in the face, but the pain makes you feel incredible after. He's in your face throwing it as fast as he can or he'll go like 8 feet back. Or he'll walk all the way around you and you'll have to toss it in all directions. It's good for your lumbar spine as well so it's a complete core exercise.

Matt Richenthal is the Editor in Chief of TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter and on Google+.

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Friday Night Lights Quotes

Billy: Texas Forever.
Tim: Texas Forever.

All I wanted to do was come home.

Riggins

Friday Night Lights Music

  Song Artist
Muzzle of bees Muzzle of Bees Wilco iTunes
Song Evergreen The Brian Jonestown Massacre
Song Bang a Gong (Get it On) T. Rex