Michael B. Jordan has a new(ish) partner in the fitness and wellness space.
The actor, producer and filmmaker has teamed with Propel for the launch of the Propel Your City Project. Designed to “bring people together for movement,” the multi-city project will support the efforts of fitness organizations dedicated to addressing barriers to wellness in their communities. The initiative kicks off this summer in Los Angeles, Detroit, Houston and Atlanta, and per the brand, Jordan helped identify and spotlight the organizations selected.
The Propel Your City Project will boost WalkGood L.A. in Los Angeles by securing centralized studio space; Trap Studio in Detroit by expanding ongoing Yin Nights events and doubling equipment available for loan; BLK Beetles in Houston by launching its first monthly Movement & Mindfulness Experience; and Atlanta Run Club in that city to help support weekly track events.
The Hollywood Reporter caught up with Jordan over Zoom to find out why he linked up with Propel, what wellness practices are key in his routine right now and the strategy behind his shirtless scenes.
I know you’re really thoughtful about who you link up with, how did you first get into business with Propel?
To be brutally honest, it first came through a partnership with Creed III. [Propel] was one of the brand sponsorships that I had in the film, and they were great. It was also great working with their execs and [hearing about] the vision they saw for this rebrand. For me, being very selective about the brands that I do partner with, the bigger picture is always the most important thing. What good are they doing? Obviously, there’s business there and it involves money and all of that good stuff, but what are you really doing for the community and for the people who are actually using your product?
Health and wellness in the community and within my culture is something that is really, really important to me. They were down for all the things. Propel Your City is an initiative that they initially brought up with me and they told me about their goals and the plans they had to roll it out. I felt that it aligned with some of the work that I wanted to do. They’re starting in L.A., Detroit, Houston and Atlanta and they’ve identified organizations and companies that are already doing the work, which is really important. Each city is different and they need different things, so not having a broad, one-size fits all approach is really smart. Sometimes you gotta listen before your brain comes in and says, ‘This is what you need.’ You need to listen to what the actual want is from the people who are going to have these individual fitness goals.
What have you learned throughout this process?
It’s really an individual journey. I think it can also be paralyzing sometimes when you think about how you want to change, like, “I want the summer body,” or, “I’m trying to lose this much weight,” or, “I have to fit into this thing.” Whatever it is, sometimes you end up doing nothing. But what Propel is really trying to do is get people active to find out what they are passionate about, what they care about and help them on their way to work out. You don’t have to work out by yourself. Bring a friend. Also, go to Propel’s Instagram where you can enter to win $500 for your fitness goals.
Whether you want to do a jump rope competition, hop skip, hike, bike, swim, whatever it is, that $500 can go towards reaching your goals. That’s a really smart approach. Also, partnering with WalkGood L.A. is great, it’s a young, entrepreneur-based company that specializes in hikes, wellness, yoga, and they do sound baths. They have a big men’s group following and that really helps break down those stigmas behind meditation and mental health and those things we perceive to be not as masculine but at the same time, is very universal. WalkGood L.A. is an embodiment of all of those things and they are the type of company that we want to partner with and help support. They didn’t have a physical location so now we’re working on trying to get them a space so they can have consistency. One thing about changing your body and working out, if there’s no continuity or consistency, you’re not going to reach your goals.
You mentioned yoga, meditation and sound baths. What is your relationship to those things?
My sister does sound baths all the time. I haven’t partaken in the sound bath just yet but I’m open to it. For me, meditation has been big. Meditation is something that really keeps me even keeled. In our industry, we’re dealing with all types of highs and lows with curve balls getting thrown at us, whether that be through the media or whatever we’re dealing with. It’s a lot of opinions that can get inside your head and it’s important to be able to clear your mind and sit still. Meditation allows for that reset so you don’t stress yourself out. Stress is serious and can take a physical toll on your body from high blood pressure or causing your hair to fall out, things like that. Meditation has really helped me out a lot. Especially with directing, it’s a big responsibility with a lot of stressors and it’s been great to help me be able to sit still for a minute.
What’s your meditation practice?
I’ve been meditating for a long time. Even growing up, my mom and dad were really big on meditation so I’m fortunate to have a pretty good relationship with meditation that goes back awhile. It’s really catered to the person and if you can do three minutes, amazing. If you can do 10 minutes, amazing. If you do 10 minutes, I can guarantee that it will change your day-to-day tremendously. I don’t really do guided meditations as much, but verbal affirmations and breathing are really important. Taking deep breaths to reset, sometimes a simple three or even seven breaths can help. If you take time to close your eyes and take deep breaths, you can reset your entire mood and energy in a really, really big way.
Fitness and wellness seem to go back a long way for you. Who was the guide you got you there? Was it your parents?
My parents weren’t big on fitness and wellness, they were really big on spirituality and meditation. As far as fitness, getting in shape and working out, I feel like I’ve always been an athletic person and very competitive. It started for me from having that competitive nature. That was the initial driving force for me as a young person. Then, you start to realize how everything else factors into your health, from what you eat and what you put into your body. Being an actor also had an impact as I learned from the physical roles I’ve played like Vince Howard [on Friday Night Lights]. Playing a high school football player to the boxing roles I’ve done [in Creed], I learned about training and how to keep up my body as it’s a direct reflection of the success you have on screen. In hindsight, I can see for myself and I know it’s the same for a lot of young people out there, it’s hard to find a real guru or North Star for how to get in shape and take care of your health, both mentally and physically.
For many people, you are that inspiration. It has had a big influence on your career and I’m curious have you ever shied away from putting your physique on display or had a moment where you didn’t want to take your shirt off?
Only recently. [Laughs] I think it’s been such a plus in my life and in my career, and look, we’re only going to be at this age once and have the ability to play these roles, to be physical and take my shirt off. I’m in my physical prime right now in this moment. So I have been, like, yeah, we’re gonna milk this. [Laughs]. But lately, I’ve started to really think about and daydream about the future and what roles and what direction I want to go in so there have been moments where I want to throw on a suit rather than a tank top. Maybe go for a shirt over a fitted tank, you know what I mean? My team and I have done a really great job at strategically figuring out when is good to be [People’s Sexiest Man Alive] or when it’s really cool to just chill and put on some sweats and a t-shirt.
I want to break down the façade that celebrities or actors have where they are put on such a pedestal or being untouchable, unreachable. That’s part of the allure of the business and that’s great, but it’s also really good for people to know that we’re all the same. We put our shoes on most of the time just like everybody else. If we don’t stay on a diet, we’re not going to get results. Letting people know that we follow the same steps to success is really important. Also, know that success can look different for everyone.
Interview edited for length and clarity.
This story first appeared in the July 14 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.
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