by Dan Albert
Photography by Michael Neveux
James Ellis’ self-described nerd-to-body of steel transformation came during his years as a student at Indiana State University. Corn fed, you say? Well, maybe when he was growing up in a small Indiana country town. Nowadays, as a successful fitness model and actor in Los Angeles, he favors a higher-protein, lower-carb, zero-fat diet approach.
Ellis left college with a degree in elementary education, a minor in physical education and a couple of local bodybuilding titles on his résumé. Within a few years he’d logged dozens of magazine covers as well as appearances on shows like “Gene Simmons Family Jewels,” “Sunset Tan,” “Bones,” “Scrubs,” “Party Down,” “Rizzoli & Isles,” and “Days of Our Lives. James has also appeared on such talk shows as, “The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien,” “Late Night with Jimmy Kimmel,” “Chelsea Lately” and “The Ellen DeGeneres Show.”
How did he do it—and how does he keep getting it done? Here’s the word from the man himself.
“Jesus Christ is always my number-one motivator, as I always want to be the best I can be in Him.”
IM: Let’s start with your stats—what are your age, height and ripped bodyweight?
JE: 34, 5’11”, 175 pounds.
IM: What do you do for a living? Any sponsorship contracts?
JE: I do full-time modeling and acting jobs through my manager and agencies. I am also a sponsored athlete of Scitec Nutrition, Schiek Sports Fitness Gear, Cyclone Cup and Icon Meals.
IM: What’s your sports background?
JE: Cross-country, track and basketball, and in junior high I also wrestled. In college I was a stunter for the Indiana State University Cheer Squad, two time national champions. I also love to waterski, wakeboard, snow ski, snowboard, surf and break-dance.
IM: How did you get into bodybuilding and weight training?
JE: I was introduced to weightlifting my senior year of high school through a weightlifting class. I got serious about it my sophomore year of college because I had a couple of roommates who enjoyed lifting. Several years later I won two bodybuilding shows, Mr. Indiana State University and Mr. Wabash.
IM: Who was your inspiration early in your career in the fitness and bodybuilding world, and who is your inspiration now?
JE: In bodybuilding it’s Jay Cutler. In fitness it was Max Wettstein early on. Later I was inspired by Greg Plitt, and I still am.
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