Kelley Johnson, star of the Bravo TV show, “Below Deck,” is a former Marine whose athletic good looks and easygoing charm have made him a huge hit with viewers. Kelley, a deckhand and second engineer, co-stars with his sister, Amy Johnson, on “Below Deck,” which chronicles the lives of crew members who work aboard a luxury yacht.
In an exclusive Examiner interview, Johnson discussed his military background and revealed the fitness secrets behind his sizzling physique.
“Below Deck,” which is in its second season, has become a surprise hit, thanks in part to engaging story lines involving Kelley’s romance with fellow deckhand Jennice Ontiveros and his heartwarming relationship with sister Amy.
Johnson, who was recently named “Man Candy of the Week” by InTouch magazine, was a soldier in the U.S. Marine Corps before becoming a reality TV star. The 6-foot-1, 185-pound Texas-born heartthrob is an officer and a gentleman, in every sense of the word.
During his deployment, Kelley was involved in the historic rescue operation involving Captain Richard Phillips, who was taken hostage by Somali pirates in the Indian Ocean in 2009.
The incredible rescue was made into a 2013 movie starring Tom Hanks called “Captain Phillips.” The film received six Academy Award nominations, including best picture.
Below, Kelley, 27, shares his thoughts on being a Marine, fame, fitness and family.
Question: “Below Deck” fans love your smoking-hot looks, but may not be aware of your impressive background in the Marines, especially your part in the Captain Phillips rescue. Can you discuss that?
My unit was tasked with security once suspected pirates were brought on board. After the Navy Seals took the shots on the pirates, we brought the remaining ones on board the USS Boxer. From there, eight of us were selected out of 116 of the Marines in our unit to escort and turn over the pirates to U.S. officials in Djibouti, Africa.
It was a humbling experience, and getting to spend time with the pirates (two weeks) was probably the most shocking experience of my life. I learned about the hardship he endured in his homeland, and what drove him to do what he did. I am so lucky to get that perspective instead of what the news feeds you. It was an amazing deployment, and one I will never forget.”
Question: You’re obviously in great shape. Do you follow a particular diet?
Luckily, I don’t have to. I have a very high metabolism. I’m pretty sure many people would despise me if they saw what I ate all the time. I have a terrible sweet tooth, and once I start, I can’t stop. I think what helps with my lack of strict diet is that I slay myself when I work out. I don’t take the gym lightly. I go to destroy my muscles and be done with it.”
Question: What is your workout routine? Many Marines do CrossFit. Do you?
I actually do not do CrossFit. I see too many people injure themselves because of poor form. I have tried it but I like to push myself in the gym alone. Right now I am two a days at the gym, but it’s mainly just back and biceps one day, chest and triceps the next. Then I do legs one day. Yes, I hate legs like everyone else! And shoulders on the last before a day of rest.
The most important thing for me is to eat the calories I need to keep my weight steady. I found a routine that works for me, but everyone’s body is different. My routine changes, or at least the workouts do, because changing your movements really helps psych your muscles out.”
Question: Your relationship with your sister adorable Amy is really heart-warming. Will you continue working together on future charters?
She actually just finished working with me on a sailboat. I love my sister and would work with her anytime. I think we can butt heads, but at the end of the day I trust her completely. There is nothing better than having someone you can trust 100 percent on a boat, no matter what you say to them. It’s refreshing, and the answer is 120 percent yes! I would definitely work with her again.”
Question: How are you handling overnight fame and having throngs of fans now that you’re a TV star?
I have been asked this by friends, and the truth is that I feel the same as before. I don’t think I’m famous by any means. I worked and just had cameras recording what I did for six weeks. I am very blessed by the love shown my way, but do I think I’m special? No. I work for a living just like everyone else. But I am very grateful for all my fans. I love everyone who is supporting the show and the cast members.”
You can keep up with Kelley Johnson’s adventures on Instagram and on Twitter at @KJBombDotCom.