It all started, Steve Edwards recalled with a little-boy pout, when he became jealous of Cristina Ferrare, his co-host on "AM Los Angeles," the local morning talk show on KABC-TV.
"She was suddenly getting physically fit," Edwards recalled, referring to the publicized exercise regimen Ferrare recently adopted to regain her shape after the birth of her baby a year ago.
Edwards, a lifelong exerciser and veteran of two marathons, decided he'd like to adopt a new regimen too. So Margaret Weitzman, an associate producer for "AM Los Angeles," hired Carol Ramirez, a 28-year-old private trainer, to accompany Edwards on runs and to introduce him to weight training. She saw it as a good show project.
'On and Off' Runner
Although weight training is new to Edwards, physical fitness is not. He's been a runner "on and off" for a long time, he said, and cites Dr. Kenneth Cooper's "Aerobics," published in 1968, as his "initial inspiration."
Since September, Ramirez has been putting Edwards through his paces, first helping him step up his running schedule to four times a week. (He sometimes runs 10 miles a session, often in the hills around his Encino home.) She also supervises five weight-training sessions a week, being careful to have him work different muscle groups on alternate days to help prevent injury and undue fatigue.
Ramirez conducts her training sessions around Edwards' schedule: He's usually at the studio by 8 a.m. and stays until late afternoon, returning telephone calls and preparing for the next day's show. Often, Ramirez will coach Edwards, formerly the host of "Three Three O" (KABC-TV) and co-host of "2 on the Town" (KNXT-TV), in his home exercise room, where occasionally the family joins in the routine. Other times, she'll swing by the studio to put him through his paces.
Look of Disdain
"Cristina thinks I'm too thin," Edwards said, making a face as he pumped some weights. When she says so, Edwards retaliates: "I give her one of my 'Cristina' looks," Edwards said, adopting a look of disdain.
Or, he may roll up his sleeves to show off his biceps, which began bulging impressively, Ramirez said, after just a few weeks of weight training. Muscles are new to Edwards. Pointing to a weight-training machine in the corner of his home exercise room, he said, "I've always had this, but I used to call it sculpture. Before now, the most exercise I ever got with it was moving it in."
Edwards also pumps free weights. He began with 10-pound barbells in each hand and is now up to 20 pounds per hand. Said Edwards, who refuses to take his new shape too seriously: "I think I've lifted the Queen Mary. But I've always wanted to look like Popeye. And if I keep up this weight training another three or four months, I'll really get obnoxious."
Ramirez and Edwards are reporting their progress on the show this morning. "We'll reveal whether I've come out as an Adonis or a Don Knotts," he said. Results are expected to be good. (By early November, the 5-foot, 10 1/2-inch Edwards had dropped seven pounds, down to 155 pounds.)
The measurable effects of exercise, plus health benefits, are more important than its competitive aspects, Edwards said. He doesn't remember his exact marathon times, for example. "I think the one in Chicago was around 4:20," he said, acknowledging that he prefers a leisurely pace and that he is "faithful but not compulsive" about exercise.
"Many people run because they're high-powered, high-energy types and need to do it to manage stress," he said. "But I'm not a highly stressed person."
To keep himself on the straight-and-narrow fitness path, Edwards said he has considered hiring Ramirez to check up on him once a week or so after the show project is over. "A trainer is the ultimate California indulgence," he added.
Throughout Edwards' new fitness regimen, his wife, Jean, whom Edwards describes as "very fit," has provided lots of encouragement, he said. And their daughter Julie, 9, sometimes joins in the sessions.
But Edwards believes their 16-year-old son, Greg, is mostly amused by his iron-pumping dad. "He looks at me as if to say: 'Oh, Dad, you're too old and puny for this.' "
Fitting in Fitness
Occupation: Co-host, "AM Los Angeles," KABC-TV.
Regimen: Five weight-training sessions and four runs a week.
Fitness motivation: "With exercise, you can see measurable results."