by Mick Sandoval
March 20, 2011
A Dip In The Chilly Waters
Before flexing his muscles on MTV's The Real World, Scott Herman was a self described 'weakling.' At 12, he found weights in his father's basement and embarked on a rigorous six-days-of-the-week, two-hours-each-day fitness program. He also changed his diet to a high-carbohydrate plan of pasta, bagels, rice and grilled chicken; then added Syntha-6, a protein supplement, along with multivitamins for added nutrients.
Ten years of training has given Scott Herman superhero looks and the confidence to match. He doesn't deny that the muscles help him in the dating arena, but he says they've also given him the strength to stand up for what he believes is right.
In response to the recent LGBT attacks and gay teen suicides, Scott has been a vocal advocate against discrimination. "It's not a problem we can ignore any longer," he says. "I've learned when you ignore bullies, they find someone weaker to pick on. Maybe it's the big brother in me speaking, but I want to be a shield for guys who may not be strong enough to take a stand."
In his latest shoot, Scott was convinced to take a dip in a cold New England lake in his underwear. The photographer said it would be symbolic of the dip he has taken in his fight for gay rights. Lucky for us, Scott bought it.
Where did you shoot these latest photos?
They were shot in a lake in Maine.
Early spring in New England is still chilly.
I am a New Hampshire boy. The cold is my friend.
No one said the life of a model was easy.
It isn't that the shoots are super hard. It's sitting around for long hours that can be a drag. I'm always on the go. When I arrive at a shoot, I want to bang out the pictures as quickly as possible.
Are you willing to do anything to get the perfect shot?
Most anything. [Laughs]
Would you shoot a swimwear spread in the arctic?
Heck no. I give everything I do 110 percent, but my dad taught me a valuable lesson when I was young. He said, "Work smart, not hard." I'd prefer a swimwear spread in front of a green screen where they bring in a graphic artist to superimpose arctic scenes into the background.
Would you swim naked in a leach-infested pond?
I may be a model, but I ain't stupid. [Laughs]
There was a serious side to the lake shoot.
I did it as a symbolic nod to the dip I have taken in the fight for gay rights.
What made you take the plunge to publicly announce your support of gay rights?
I have spent my whole life standing up to bullies. I first became publicly involved with the gay community while filming The Real World: Brooklyn. We did a lot of work with gay teens during the show.
Studies show that gay teen suicide attempts are four times that of heterosexual youth.
In high school, one of my friends came out junior year and I saw how the other guys treated him. I didn't like it. I remember thinking, enough is enough. I had to do something about it, so I made it known that if anyone picked on him, they would have to answer to me.
Were you as fit then as you are now?
I found fitness when I was 12. I was a very quiet, introverted, weak kid. I needed an outlet for my frustrations, and so I began to workout in my basement with my dad's old weight equipment. The basement was my place of Zen. I could be anything I wanted to be down there. I could push myself as hard as I wanted, and each day became physically and mentally stronger. Fitness gave me confidence.
Is it true you were working as a fitness trainer at 14?
Not exactly. I started working at Gold's Gym when I was 14. The other trainers took me under the wing, and I would offer advice to new members. I found I genuinely enjoyed teaching others how to better themselves. I was training people full-time at 18 and making a pretty decent living from it.
Do you agree that accepting differences in others is part of a healthy lifestyle?
It sure is. It's so important to be surrounded by positive energy. It is truly the lifeblood of your existence and to reaching your goals! I found that standing up for my friend in high school gave me a sense of power,
It was the first time I realized how powerful it is to stand up for what is right. If I can be a shield that gives strength to others, then that is what I am going to do.
Were you prepared for the negative feedback you would receive for supporting gay rights?
Not at all. I didn't realize the enormity of the hatred out there.
How has the fitness community reacted to your stance?
For the most part, they've been OK. However, some people continue to leave pretty rude comments on my Youtube videos. They call me 'fag lover.' I get called gay a lot—like it's a bad thing. At the end of the day, I could care less what anonymous fools say, because most of them would be too cowardly to say those words to my face. They have to wake up every morning and look at themselves in the mirror. I am not going to waste my time on their nonsense.
The locker room has long been a place for athletes to air discriminatory remarks against gay men. Do you react when you hear teammates jokingly calling each other fairies?
To be honest, I used to use words like 'gay' and 'fag' with my friends simply because I didn't realize why it was wrong. My brother and his friends have called me a 'fag' for as long as I can remember. I didn't know what it meant when I was younger. I only knew it was meant as an insult. Now that I know better, I do not use these words, and if I hear them being used jokingly, I say something.
What do you say?
I simply point out that when you call someone gay in a negative way, you are saying that being gay is wrong.
How do you feel about gay men in the locker room?
Changing in front of anyone doesn't bother me. You can Google search my name and see me in my underwear. It's no big deal to me.
Would you feel comfortable showering next to a gay athlete?
I have never cared much for showering in front of other guys, straight or gay. I value my privacy.
What other issues are you passionate about?
My number one passion is fitness. I love to exercise and push myself to new limits. I also like to push others to meet their fitness goals.
In this busy world, why is it important that we set aside time for fitness?
Fitness is more than just looking good. It is important to set time aside for fitness because you need to take care of your body if you want to live long and enjoy a full life. Exercise is a great way to release stress and negative energy. You will be a happier human being if you exercise.
How much time is necessary?
The average person should spend no more than 45 minutes to an hour exercising a day. It's all about building a routine. Once you make fitness a permanent part of your life, it always will be. Also, be sure to stretch in the morning when you wake up and before you go to bed.
How has being fit changed your world?
I owe my whole life and career to getting involved in fitness at a young age. We all have a purpose in life. I was lucky to have been able to find mine in fitness.
Does your partner share your passion?
She does. She would have to. This is what I do for a living. Scott Herman Fitness is my life, and to have someone not involved would make for a huge gap in our relationship. I need someone that is going to support me 100 percent.
Does she share your feelings about gay rights?
She sure does. I couldn't be with someone who didn't have an open heart to everyone.
Scott, it's commendable that you would come out publicly in support of gay rights. But if you knew then what you know now, about all the criticism and hate mail you would receive, would you have been so vocal in your stance for gay rights?
I know in my heart what the right thing to do is and I will continue to do it no matter how hard the journey may be.