Terry Crews: Defying Age, Conquering Fear & Prioritizing Rest

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In terms of this thing called life, Terry Crews is on cruise control.

Just 25 years ago, the host of America’s Got Talent was sweeping floors for $8 an hour before landing the audition that sparked his rise to stardom. He has done everything from being the lead man in the iconic Old Spice commercials to starring in both big-screen and award-winning TV series, and lending his voice to video games and animated films.

Crews’s success has not only stemmed from pure talent and hustle; it’s also due to creating and establishing habits that have set the table for success. He spoke with M&F about some of the keys he’s learned throughout his career, why he no longer believes in competing, and just how important a good night’s sleep has proven to be.

Terry Crews Stopped Competing and Comparing Himself To Others When It Came To Training and Found Peace

At 55, Crews is in better shape than many guys half his age, and he takes his wellness just as seriously as any acting role he has had, or his responsibilities as the host of AGT. During his football career, his focus was on being the strongest and fastest he could be. While that helped propel Crews to the NFL, he realized how damaging that mindset is as the league gets younger every year. No awards are being handed out for outdoing what the next guy is doing in the gym. Training now is all about peace.

“It’s my spa time,” says Crews. “I don’t look at it like I’m trying to get this specific bench press, or I’m trying to look better and be better than someone else for that matter. It has nothing to do with anyone else. The best thing I could do for the entire world is to make the most of myself.”

By removing the need to compete and compare himself to others, Crews believes he has saved himself from many injuries. His wakeup call came in 2010 when he suffered a torn bicep from overdoing things in the gym. On days when he wants to go heavy, there’s no need to push beyond four reps before moving to the next set. He also runs four miles each day to help keep everything fine-tuned.

Terry Crews Learned to Redefine Fear

Crews has starred alongside some of the biggest names in Hollywood and has managed to steal many a scene, whether he was playing a badass or in a comedic role. Even with a quarter-century of experience in front of the camera, there are still nerves. He believes that if there are no nerves, then you don’t care. Instead of succumbing to those emotions with each take, Crews has taken control of them.

“What I learned over the years was not to call it nerves,” he said. “What I do is say I’m excited. If you call it nerves, it’s fear-based. Fear brings more fear, which causes things to descend. Have you ever seen somebody choke at a sporting event? That comes from fear. It comes from thinking, what if I miss? All of a sudden, you miss, and then it goes down from there. When I say I’m excited, that’s more like, give me the ball when it’s time to go.”

Crews’s start in Hollywood came from that same drive. After retiring from the NFL in 1997, he moved to Los Angeles to pursue a new career. He made ends meet by sweeping floors and doing security before getting his first big break on the extreme sports show Battle Dome, where he played T-Money. It was the first role he auditioned for, and he told himself he wouldn’t go back to sweeping floors. Twenty-five years later, ‘T-Money’ has a new ring to it.

Terry Crews Is All About Discipline

Crews has been practicing intermittent fasting for over a decade. His workouts are already determined before he starts. He has a morning, afternoon, and nighttime vitamin routine and likes to rise and sleep around the same time each night. He’s able to work out with 20 and 30-year-olds and not feel out of place, and he doesn’t take this for granted as many former football players he competed with and against are no longer here.

“I’m 55, and a lot of the players that I played with have passed away, which is crazy,” Crews said. “If as many people passed away at Apple as have passed away in the NFL, people would say, wait a minute, we need to check out why our people are dying like this.”

Sleep Doesn’t Make You Weak

Crews would land his big-screen debut in 2000 with The 6th Day, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger. From there, it was all gas and no brakes. From TV shows, movies, and commercials, he took every offer that he felt was right for him. Who would have time to sleep when you’re living your dreams? Things were great until one day, Crews developed a migraine headache that he couldn’t shake. His body began to ache, and he experienced difficulty breathing. Rightfully, he scheduled a visit with his doctor.

The diagnosis was exhaustion. “I’m like, what?” Crews said. “I heard people say, they’re exhausted. I would think they’re just lazy. That was my mindset.”

The prescription was rest. For three days: no phone calls, no meetings, and no disturbances. He also incorporated melatonin into his nighttime vitamin routine before bed. “It changed my life,” Crews said. He also learned that by outworking everyone, he wasn’t always doing what was best. “Every time I woke up, I was more impactful, more efficient, and I was doing things so well that it made people notice.”

He also learned that by outworking everyone, he was overworking himself. With a new focus on being selective and not overextending himself, Crews says you’ll notice the true growth in the second half of his career compared to where he was in the first half. Each night, bedtime is 8:30 p.m. He starts his wind-down by shutting his phone off and then lowering the temperature in the bedroom. He then closes the blackout curtains and takes a Natrol brand melatonin gummy before he brushes his teeth. He rises a little before five the next morning.

Given the health scare that forced him to prioritize his rest, Crews advises everyone to start doing the same. “I can honestly say sleep saved my life,” Crews said. “You can’t live your dreams without sleep.”

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