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Mt. Lebanon native, actor Manganiello: Mind focus is the key to fitness

| Thursday, Dec. 5, 2013, 8:55 p.m.
Anna Paquin and Joe Manganiello in 'True Blood'
Joe Manganiello and Arnold Schwarzenegger in 'Sabotage'
Joe Manganiello's book, 'Evolution,' includes this picture of him as a skinny adolescent.
John P. Johnson/HBO
Joe Manganiello (left) and Robert Patrick in HBO's 'True Blood.'

“True Blood” fans might find it hard to believe their beloved ripped werewolf was ever anything but built.

Actor Joe Manganiello, who plays the brawny Alcide Herveaux, doesn't shy away from his scrawny past. The first page of this new book, “Evolution: The Cutting-Edge Guide to Breaking Down Mental Walls and Building the Body You've Always Wanted” (Gallery Books, $26), features a photo of the author as a skinny adolescent.

It's there, he writes, to remind readers that “ everyone possesses the capability to look the way he or she wants.”

“These are all the lessons I learned,” says Manganiello, who uses the book to detail methods he used to shape his body into the powerhouse it is now for his role in “True Blood,” as well as for movies like “Magic Mike.”

“Evolution” debuted Dec. 3, and the Mt. Lebanon native is coming to the Settlers Ridge Barnes & Noble for a book-signing Dec. 7.

“It's really exciting to be able to come back to Pittsburgh,” says Manganiello, a Carnegie Mellon University graduate.

When it comes to fitness, it's clear Manganiello isn't interested in excuses. He's also not keen on quick fixes.

“In this day and age, there is a lot of misinformation,” he says. “We've created a fitness industry that floods the market with information — some is good and valid and some is a bunch of junk. People aren't taught what works.”

Focusing on the mental aspects of working out is key, Manganiello stresses. Much of his book is dedicated to motivation — ways he finds it and suggestions for keeping it.

“The body is capable of incredible things, but our minds talk us out of it,” he says.

Manganiello says readers can benefit from his firsthand experience with the workouts. His target audience is everyone from high-schoolers who've never been in a gym to anyone looking to take their training to the next level. With tons of pictures, it's also good for those who simply want to see “the shirtless guy from ‘True Blood,'” he says with a laugh.

Manganiello's mentor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, wrote the foreword, in which he recounts his request that Manganiello speak at famed bobybuilder Joe Weider's memorial. Manganiello was hesitant and said he wasn't sure he was worthy to perform such an honor. Schwarzenegger insisted.

“As Joe stood at the podium at the Weider memorial and told the crowd how proud he was that he had gone from being the little boy dreaming while he read the Weider magazines to being the man on the cover of the most widely read fitness and bodybuilding magazine in the world, inspiring the next generation, I knew I'd made the right choice,” Schwarzenegger writes.

Manganiello admits he teared up the first time he read his idol's words.

“If nothing else ever happens past this book, that foreword alone means I've done something significant,” he says.

Manganiello, looking fit as ever, stars alongside Schwarzenegger in the upcoming film “Sabotage,” to be released in the spring. He plays a member of a DEA task force that becomes the target of violence after a big bust.

The experience involved some “really nasty work,” he says.

“We trained alongside the men who do that for a living,” he says. “I have nothing but respect for those guys. These guys protect us and keep us safe at night.”

Manganiello stays tight-lipped when asked about the upcoming final season of “True Blood.” When audiences last saw Alcide, he seemed quite content as lead character Sookie's latest love interest. Will that happiness last all season, or will the ubiquitous Bon Temps drama catch up with the couple?

“I know what happens, and all I can say is, ‘I called it!'” he says.

Rachel Weaver is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-320-7948 or

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