Time for a ‘Body Break’ with Hal Johnson
As you may or may not know, sports and fitness have always played a pivotal role in my life. Growing up, I had the pleasure to watch a particular couple on the screen tell their story. The message was clear. “Keep fit and have fun.” Recently, I had the honor to talk to one of the members of Body Break Hal Johnson over the phone to discuss healthy living through fitness and nutrition.
Quick bio: Hal Johnson grew up in Toronto with his parents and sister. In high school, he was the captain of the hockey, baseball, basketball, and football teams. After his high school graduation, he focused on baseball and attended the University of Colorado on a baseball scholarship. Hal earned a business degree and was an all-star first baseman. He represented Canada at the World Baseball Championship. Joanne Mcleod (his life-partner) joined the track team in high school. A 4 time National and 7-time Provincial hurdle champion and represented Canada at many tracks meets around the world.
I thought with 25+ years of keeping us fit with a smile, it would be fun to have a quick 90-second interview with BodyBreak. Please enjoy!
1. Can you tell us about a little about Body Break?
Body Break is about keeping fit and having fun. Going out and staying active. In sharing our story we hope to inspire others to make changes in their own life.
Body Break offers Canadians unique tips for a healthy lifestyle that include exercise, good nutrition, and staying active.
Fitness should be fun. A trademark of Body Break is to give viewers a smile or a chuckle at the end of each show.
2. Did you have any obstacles before Body Break got going?
I went to multiple TV stations, advertising agencies, and corporations. Even though we believed in Body Break, it was not an easy sell. Body Break was turned down by many organizations.
As a result, I started thinking about who would be interested in promoting equality for everyone. Moreover, who would be interested in fitness and health programs designed for all Canadians regardless of physical abilities, sex, or ethnicity. we contacted ParticipACTION.
ParticipACTION is a non-profit organization, co-funded by the government and corporate sector. ParticipACTION is designed to promote fitness to Canadians. I looked at their brochure showing all types of people enjoying fitness and eating healthier (proper nutrition). We knew we were in the right place.
Body Break was funded in part by ParticipACTION. As time went on, we developed a relationship with Health Canada in 1993 to promote healthy, active living to all Canadians with the Vitality project. We continued to stress the importance of healthy living through fitness and nutrition.
3. Can we discuss the first ‘Body Break’ episode? Why is scouting a location important before filming?
Body Break started in 1988. We decided that finding ways to help people incorporate healthy eating and physical activity into their daily lives would be the primary goal for Body Break. It was essential that when we recorded Body Break that the day was glorious. Blue skies and plenty of sunshine were of real importance to the segments.
Scouting is very important. For instance, we scouted one location and found that we could do three shows (golfing, cycling, and gardening) in the same park.
4. You were a contestant on Amazing Race Canada? Can you tell us about your experience?
For those who may not know, Amazing Race Canada is a reality game show based on the American series The Amazing Race. It featured nine teams of two with pre-existing relationships who race around Canada for CA$250,000. The show produced by Insight Productions, in association with Bell Media. Broadcasted on CTV. Canadian Olympian Jon Montgomery is the host of the show.
When auditions were announced in Canada, we both instantly jumped at the opportunity to try-out. Casting began with an online site for the submission of applications and audition videos. I actually have some behind-the-scenes footage of the casting experience.
Teams included Tim Hague, Sr. & Tim Hague, Jr., Vanessa Morgan & Celina Mziray, Jet Black & Dave Schram, Holly Agostino & Brett Burstein, Kristen Idiens & Darren Trapp, Jamie Cumberland & Pierre Cadieux, Treena Ley & Tennille Dorrington, and of course Team Body Break. We still keep in contact with some of the members that were on the show.
The debut episode attracted a record 3.5 million viewers.
It was an amazing and phenomenal experience. It was really about pushing yourself that little bit extra and never giving up. We have a memory that we’ll always have…and it introduced Body Break to a new generation.
5. Body Break has appeared in a few other projects? Can we discuss them?
We appeared in an episode of Canadian sitcom Mr. D as candidates for a physical education teaching job. Mr. D is a Canadian television series starring comedian Gerry Dee. The series follows the misadventures of an underqualified schoolteacher named Gerry Duncan, nicknamed Mr. D.
In 2017, we returned to our Body Break roles to promote the Netflix original show Santa Clarita Diet in a faux infomercial. We spoofed ourselves. You should definitely check it out. Santa Clarita Diet is an American horror-comedy web television series created by Victor Fresco, starring Drew Barrymore and Timothy Olyphant.
Watch Hal & Jo Monday, Wednesday & Friday Keep Fit and Have Fun.
In addition to ‘Body Break’ they discuss healthy living through fitness and nutrition.