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TJ Hoban: From Runt to Ripped


One quick glance at the peeled physique of T.J. Hoban, and it’s preposterous to imagine that the 6’, 185-pound sliced and diced actor and fitness model was once, as he referred to himself, “a runt with Coke bottle glasses, braces and a bowl haircut.”

Even harder to fathom is his high school homecoming date back in Chicago calling him shortly before the affair to let him know she was still going—but with his best friend.

I can just hear T.J. belting out The Heavy’s, “How You Like Me Now?”—with a smile as wide as Dennis Wolf’s shoulders.

Today Hoban is one of the most sought-after fitness models in the industry, and he isn’t doing too badly in Hollywood either. You may recognize him from his recurring role as “Rex” on the sitcom “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia,” starring Danny DeVito. Or flashing his eight-pack on “The Young and the Restless,” “Mike & Molly” and “CSI: NY.” As a kid he was embarrassed to take his shirt off. Now he gets paid to show off abs that are deeper than Donald Trump’s pockets.

L.T.: Tell me that the homecoming tale is just that.

TJ: No, a true story. It was freshman year, and her name was Krystal!

LT: She may be regretting that decision these days [both laugh]. So, take us back to the beginning.

TJ: When I was a kid, I was considered a runt—skinny, with the thick glasses, braces, weird hair-do, the whole nine yards. On picture day in grammar school they would line us up shortest to tallest, and I was always at the front of the line. I couldn’t even talk to a girl, let alone get a date. And when I did, for homecoming, you know what happened. I was so excited. I bought a new outfit, a corsage and rented a limo only to be crushed.

I was so upset about always being overlooked. I asked my mom for a weight set that year for my birthday and have been training rigorously ever since. I turned my garage into a gym, joined the wrestling team and trained like “Rocky” fighting for his life.

Training became my release, my ground zero. No matter what adversity life threw at me, I knew I would always feel better and think about things in a positive light after an exhausting workout. At the time I wasn’t sure if it was because I felt more empowered or that I was so drained, I didn’t have the energy to worry anymore. Now I realize it was the endorphin rush and stress release. Either way, working out became my therapy, and I have used it ever since to cope, reset and focus on changing my life for the better.

LT: What was your size when you started the “Rocky” routine? How about when you graduated from high school?


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