Ghostbusters Star Ernie Hudson Trains to Feel Good. Looking Good Is Just a Bonus. |

Ghostbusters Star Ernie Hudson Trains to Feel Good. Looking Good Is Just a Bonus.

ERNIE HUDSON HAS been a central part of the Ghostbusters franchise ever since its start in 1984, so it took the actor a little by surprise when his presence at the premiere of the latest sequel Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire took the internet by storm. Notably, his large biceps and just how virile he looked, as if he were one of the newer, younger members of the cast rather than the old guard.

“It’s kinda strange, because this is the fifth Ghostbusters. I’ve been doing this for well over 50 years, and those same arms have been there all the time,” he tells Men’s Health.

You’ve probably seen the pictures by now: Hudson walking the red carpet in jeans and a fitted black tee-shirt, biceps on show, looking buffer than many people expected at the age of 78.

“I was actually a little embarrassed with the T-shirt, but my jacket had a smudge on it,” he explains. “I wasn’t flexing or anything, I didn’t really think about it. But it’s nice to be noticed. It’s flattering in a lot of ways. But when the age thing comes up, it’s like, ‘oh we’re surprised you’re still alive!’ It would be nice if they said I was sexy and then say I’m 78.”


Ernie Hudson on the red carpet in March 2024, looking strong (at 78!).

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Not that the actor known for work as diverse as Oz, The Hand That Rocks the Cradle, Miss Congeniality and Quantum Leap has much regard for any expectations and stereotypes around what it means to be a man of a certain ageHe’s seen too many friends place limits on themselves, and age prematurely as a result of that way of thinking.

“Their discipline changes,” he says. “They think they can say whatever they want and be a jerk, or that they don’t have to take as much responsibility. They think they have to do less physically, and so they do less. And you end up kind of diminishing yourself; you have no purpose. Whereas I think it has nothing to do with how old you are. There might come a time when I can’t do as much; we’re all getting older, these bodies aren’t built to last, but there’s no point in speeding that up, or using it as an excuse to be lazy or irresponsible.”

You might assume that Hudson is extremely strict and regimented in his fitness and nutrition, but he says there are no absolutes in his world. When he was young (growing up in a very religious community), he would fast for several days at a time, consuming only water. He doesn’t do that anymore, although he has found that his natural eating habits are a neat match for intermittent fasting; he tends not to eat anything before noon, or after seven p.m.

“We all have a little voice inside that reminds us who we are…maybe not so much as a voice as what I call a common sense factor,” he says. “We can look for answers, read books, go to seminars, ask someone else to guide us. But if we’re really honest with ourselves, we know what do. You know you should drink water. You know should eat fruits and vegetables. You know that fast food on a daily basis is not good.”

He also hasn’t had alcohol in years, after an incident at 19 when he blacked out and woke up in a drunk tank. “People had been throwing up in that cell, and the smell was so strong that I started throwing up. After that, every time I went to drink, the smell would turn my stomach, and I just couldn’t do it for years. I just ask myself; do I need this? I get a little paranoid with marijuana—actually I get a lot paranoid, and so I just feel none of that’s for me.”

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i have this trainer whos in his twenties and he pushes me like im in my twenties

Of course, his build doesn’t come out of nowhere, and Hudson credits his broad shoulders and noticeable biceps to his first-ever job, shoveling dirt. That frame has served as a believable canvas when it then came to building the physique of a boxer, an FBI agent, a SWAT sergeant, or whatever else a role required of him. And those roles kept coming, with Hudson still being cast in a hunk-adjacent capacity well into his sixties thanks to projects like Grace and Frankie.

“When I turned 50, people said, your body’s going to change,” Hudson recalls. “Nothing changed. Sixties, nothing changed. Seventies… there was a change.”

lose weight after 50


It was then, he explains, that he was “visited by Mr. Jiggles,” his term for the stubborn belly fat that appeared and was seemingly there to stay. “Fasting didn’t get rid of Mr. Jiggles. He just hung in there, you know, and he talks to you at night. He whispers: we need to eat something. And suddenly, I’m feeding Mr. Jiggles. So a couple of years ago, I thought: I need to get to the gym.”

Despite never having really liked formal workouts in the gym—”I’m just not one of those guys”—Hudson has stayed consistent, training three times a week. On Mondays, he works on coordination and balance. On Wednesday, he does Pilates for mobility. “Ever since I was a kid, I’ve always made a point of being able to touch my toes,” he says. “So at some point during the day, every day, I’ll do a stretch to make sure I can still touch my toes.”

Then on Fridays, he does strength training, which he has learned to enjoy more than he ever used to when he was workout out for roles. “You come away feeling really pumped, and that’s sort of fun,” he says. “I have this trainer who’s in his twenties, and he pushes me like I’m in my twenties. And on the days I don’t work out, I try to get in at least a half-hour walk at a nice pace, get the heart rate up over 110 BPM. That seems to be most effective for Mr. Jiggles!”

ernie hudson ghostbusters 1989ALAMY STOCK PHOTO

Hudson in Ghostbusters in 1989.

ernie hudson and bill murray in ghostbusters frozen empireALAMY STOCK PHOTO

Just as impressive, about 35 years later (in Ghostbusters again, with Bill Murray).

And has Mr. Jiggles been busted like one of Hudson’s on-screen monsters?

“He’s been subdued,” he says. “He hasn’t totally left the building.”

Following the recent thirsty response he’s received post-Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire, appreciation for Hudson is at an all-time high: a nice place to be for a man who will be turning 80 next year. But that’s not distracting him from what really matters.

“Remember Dick Clark? From American Bandstand?” he asks. “He always looked amazing. It seemed to me he looked like a perpetual teenager, until one day he didn’t. And we don’t know what the future holds. Maybe one day I’ll wake up and, well, who knows. So I’m not concerned with living as long as possible. I just want to live as full and complete a life as I can, to enjoy the time I have, to live a good life, and be an example of what God can do.”

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