1. MADISON HILDEBRAND, 29
Three years ago Madison Hildebrand, a real-estate agent and star of the Bravo show Million Dollar Listing, was hosting a party at a glass-walled Malibu property when a supremely fit specimen took off his shirt to go swimming. "We all went inside so we could stare, guys and girls," Hildebrand says. "I thought, 'There's no reason I can't be that healthy.' I bought the biggest package my trainer offered."
The Basic Routine: Hildebrand's twice-a-week trainer-led sessions kick off at 6:30 a.m. "I have to exercise before I get any text messages or voice mails, before the world starts," he says. "At night I'm exhausted." During the hour, he has to do "all sorts of painful things," he says. An average set includes bicep curls, jumping up onto a foot-and-a-half-tall box a couple of times, push-ups on a medicine ball, lunges, jumping rope, and what Hildebrand calls chick sit-ups, in which you hang your legs off a bench and lift them up.
The Philosophy: On taskmaster-free days he goes hiking, paddle boarding, surfing, or biking. "I'll attempt to go to the gym, but I usually think it's gross and leave," he says. "I live in Malibu for a reason."
The Motivator: Competition. Seeing someone more in shape than he is makes him want to sweat.
The Diet: Lunch is gourmet fare—his office is next to his home, and he cooks for himself and his assistant—lamb ribs, chicken parmigiana, spinach salad with strawberries, pine nuts, and goat cheese. "I like to eat a lot of ice cream," he says, "but if there's a choice, I usually make the healthier one."
The Trouble Spot: Hildebrand would like to bulk up his shoulders, which he describes as "dinosaur blades." "Also, my collarbone sticks out," he says.
2. DAVE SALMONI, 34
An upcoming date with a pretty young thing inspires most guys to work out, but Salmoni, Animal Planet's large-predator expert, says he ups his gym time when he's got a meet-up with something "big and dangerous." When he's planning a rendezvous with an animal, he shows his trainer videos of how it attacks, and his trainer devises exercises to help him defend himself. Salmoni, who lives in Toronto, then practices the moves for about two months, and "for a few days before I travel, I just live in the gym," he says.
The Basic Routine: These days Salmoni's doing his "cat workout," which helps him face lions and tigers. They come straight at their prey and hit at about shoulder height. So at 11 each morning, he does what he calls the "get off me," a sit-up mixed with an incline bench press with a twist. "I don't have to worry about fighting for 20 minutes," he says. "If I'm still fighting then, I'm going to be dead. I need to be ready to sprint for five minutes." This means doing "super-sets:" 100 squats, then 100 push-ups, then 40 chin-ups, and no rest in between.
The Gear: Salmoni never met a gym toy he didn't like and uses hurdles, medicine balls, or bars (to hang from) to give his workouts variety. He wears a mouth guard because he grinds his teeth when he exercises. "I look like a fucking ogre," he says.
The Motivator: While it's true that Salmoni wants to keep trim for the camera, he's also logging long sweat sessions simply to save his life. "Especially after a long trip, when the last thing you want to do is leave the couch, it's an easy motivator that I'm going to be faced with something that could kill me," he says. "That gets you off of the couch."
The Diet: When Salmoni's watching his diet, he eats mostly meat and grains, such as brown rice, chicken breasts, oatmeal with flaxseed and fruit, or low-fat meatballs his friends call "turkey balls." But he's not a total martyr. Sometimes on Fridays he'll have a pizza. "It's a little bit more oil and grease than I would normally allow myself," he says.
The Trouble Spot: His calves, which he calls "the skinniest on the planet." He refuses to wear long pants in the gym so he won't forget how thin they are and says, "If anyone wants to throw a jab at me, they'll mention my calves."
3. DAVID BROMSTAD, 36
The winner of HGTV's Design Star (and now the host of Color Splash, which is also on HGTV) has a fitness philosophy that's pretty similar to that of the average guy. The designer, who lives in Miami Beach, Florida, would like to get to the gym five or six times a week but usually finds himself there closer to three. "It's a challenge sometimes," he says. "When there's a lot going on in my life, I'll realize I haven't been in a week."
The Basic Routine: Bromstad is so slight that he doesn't do any cardio exercises, only weight-bearing ones. "I would like to do cardio," he says, "but I'd waste away." Usually he concentrates on a muscle group a day—for example, chest one day and shoulders and back the next—usually in the evenings between 6:30 and 8:30. But he tones his abdominal muscles for about 45 minutes at the beginning of his gym session. "That's my warm-up," he says. "Who wants to do abs at the end of the workout?"
The Beginning: In college, Bromstad decided he was sick of being scrawny. Frequent workouts—and a diet of peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches and ramen noodles—helped him gain 30 pounds of muscle. "That's how I did it back then," he says. "I doubt it would work now."
The Motivation: He likes the visual effects of exercise, but he also appreciates the mental results. "I feel better about myself," he says. "I'm more confident, and everything just goes better."
The Diet: As much protein as possible. Bromstad drinks a protein shake in the morning and eats protein bars throughout the day. He works in some real meals as well. "I eat a sandwich for lunch and a salad or a buffalo burger at night," he says.
The Downfall: French fries and potato chips. "You can put a chocolate cake in front of me and I wouldn't care," he says, "but you put a bag of Checkers French fries in front of me and it's all over.