Source: Men's Health
On a Saturday night in 2013, after a long day at work, a 19-year-old Sam Asghari walked into his two-bedroom LA apartment that he shared with two other roommates. He turned on the light, looked around, and realized he was alone.
Asghari just cashed his last paycheck and spent it all on bills and food. He had no money left, and he was exhausted. His grueling work schedule — working as a Best Buy clerk, Gold’s Gym sales rep, and nightclub bouncer — allowed him just four to five hours of sleep a night. It was catching up to him, and he coped by “stress-eating” unhealthy foods.
“I was eating Doritos for breakfast, fast food, sugar, candy, no protein, a lot of carbs, and drinking sugary sodas,” Asghari says. “My nutrition was extremely horrible. The stress and the fear of not going anywhere [in life] combined gave me my depression.”
With nobody around, Asghari turned on college football to pass the time. On the TV, the former lineman saw a reflection of his former self.
“I was living that life six month ago, and I was no longer there,” he says. “I was disappointed in myself. I thought, ‘I wish I could go back and change things.’ When you look back, and you know you could’ve done better and put in the extra work — knowing that was so disappointing for me.”
Asghari says he was cut from University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s summer football program before his freshman year. After losing his chance at a scholarship, he was forced to move back to Los Angeles. Working out was no longer a priority — but he continued to eat like he did when he played football. 6-foot-2 Asghari was tipping the scales at 290.
But that night in 2013, he realized he had to make a change.
“I could either continue going through the same thing or I could give it another 100 percent,” Asghari says he told himself. “I didn’t want to have to deal with that depression and disappointment anymore. I had to restart.”
In the six months that followed, Asghari dropped nearly 100 pounds. His new physique and healthy lifestyle changed his life, leading him to modeling, which turned into acting. And acting led him to getting cast in Britney Spears' 2016 “Slumber Party” music video. That, of course, sparked a romance with the pop star. Two years later, Spears and Asghari are stronger than ever.
Asghari was born in Tehran, Iran, on March 4, 1994, the youngest of four. When he was 2, his father, Mike, moved to LA to work as a tow truck driver, hoping his family would eventually be able to join him in the States.
Back in Tehran, living with his mom and sisters, Asghari focused on soccer and dreamed of a career in sports or law enforcement. “Anything that didn’t require much education,” he says with a laugh.
In 2006, a then-12-year-old Asghari joined his dad in the U.S. It was decided his sisters, Maddy, Ellie, and Faye, and mother, Fatima, would stay behind. “I had to leave my friends and family who I was very close with, and I knew I was moving away and never coming back."
After getting to LA, the teenager threw himself into sports. His freshman year of high school, Asghari joined his first U.S. football team, and he found community on the team, the same way he did back in Iran. It led to him participating in a football program at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. But, after getting cut before his freshman year, Asghari went back to LA to play for Moorpark College.
He then gave up on football completely, and left Moorpark to enroll in Los Angeles Pierce College to study criminal justice. While at Pierce, Asghari worked three jobs to support himself.
After hitting rock bottom that night alone in his apartment, Asghari quit his jobs at Best Buy and the nightclub to focus on a career in fitness. “I told the general manager [at Gold’s], ‘I want to be a personal trainer, and learn about the human body and the scientific aspects of it,' and he said, ‘Sam, whatever makes you happy.’”
Asghari says he signed up for Gold’s Smart Nutrition course, which taught him about nutrition, anatomy, and personal training. And he taught himself about fitness by watching YouTube videos.
Within months, Asghari began working as a personal trainer. He focused on his own physique by getting stricter about his fitness regimen, arriving to work two hours early to get a workout in. Plus, he completely changed the way he ate.
“I allowed myself a $50 shopping budget every single week at the grocery store,” says Asghari, who mostly bought meat and vegetables. “Because of that low budget, I wasn’t able to buy other things that would break [my diet].”
Asghari says his meal plan consisted of 25 percent protein like chicken, turkey, eggs, and fish, 15 percent vegetables like broccoli, green beans, asparagus, and 25 percent complex carbs. “I didn’t eat for pleasure. My eating is now for nutrition and survival,” he says.
Within six months, Asghari went down to three percent body fat and was feeling more motivated and optimistic. But cutting weight soon became an obsession.
Asghari says he measured his body fat percentage every day with a BMI device that he kept in a drawer at work, ate only 1,500 calories, and burned about 3,000 to 4,000 at the gym.
“When you reach a certain level of accomplishment, you never want to let it go. Mentally, you get so paranoid. You think, ‘No, if I eat this, I’m going to go back,’” Asghari says. “I wasn’t hydrated properly while exercising, and I was passing out. That’s what happens when you’re so lean and you don’t have the right nutrition.”
Asghari realized he was going down a dangerous path and increased his daily caloric intake. He’s since maintained a healthier seven to nine percent body fat.
In 2015, his sister Faye, who had by now moved to the U.S., noticed her brother’s post-transformation, newly defined jaw line and bone structure, and suggested Asghari model for Michael Costello, a fashion designer who was a close friend.
“I was a very masculine guy — I played football and was in the police academy,” Asghari says. “At the time, my Sunday best was basketball shorts. My sister said, ‘I will take you to this audition, just come with me.’”
The tryout led to the 21-year-old’s first runway show in Palm Springs. One job led to the next, and Asghari booked his first commercial in early 2016 — a Super Bowl ad for Toyota Prius.
Asghari’s next big gig was on Fifth Harmony’s “Work From Home” music video, where he played a construction worker. Thanks in part to Asghari’s ripped physique, the video has nearly 2 billion views on YouTube.
Next came the “Slumber Party” casting — which almost didn’t happen. In October 2016, Asghari woke up to two frantic voicemail messages from his agent.
Sam, we’ve got a music video with Britney Spears. Do you want to do it?
We need an answer. We need you tomorrow.
“I got a call at midnight,” says Asghari, pointing out that music video leads are usually cast weeks in advance. “It went through so much to get to me. I don’t know if it’s some sort of a blessing or just meant to be.”
Two days later, Asghari was on the set, a mansion in California filled with massive stage lights, smoke machines, bubbles and dozens of backup dancers.
“I was excited that I get to meet one of the biggest artists of all time,” he says. “I had butterflies.”
Between takes, Asghari attempted to break the ice with the pop star with a little joke. “She said, ‘Hi, I’m Britney,' and I said, ‘I’m sorry. What’s your name again?’” Asghari says with a laugh. “I tried to be funny. I don’t think anybody got it.”
Spears and Asghari ended up talking during breaks, and, before the end of the shoot, they exchanged phone numbers. That turned into an invite to go out for sushi, and the rest is history.
They tried to keep their relationship quiet, but that didn’t last long. In December, paparazzi spotted the couple out while they were out on a date. Then, on New Year’s Day 2017, Spears finally made things Insta-official with a photo of Asghari putting his arm around her at dinner.
“After the video came out, nobody knew we were dating,” Asghari says. “I don’t think [she or I] had the intention to just be friends.”
Today, the couple gives the public a peek into their private relationship every so often with Instagram videos of their conditioning routines. In a video Spears posted on May 3, Asghari bench presses Spears’ entire body and does sit-ups with kisses for added motivation. The video has racked up more than 5 million views.
“The exercises, I come up with them, but the videos are because of my better half. She’s the video director,” he says. “It’s a very fun thing, and I look back at them and smile.”
Asghari says most of their workout videos are shot in Spears’ home gym, and they take about 20 to 30 minutes to do. “Working out together is always nice and we try to do it a couple times,” he adds. “It’s super healthy, mentally and physically. It takes your mind off of everything else.”
Spears said in a recent interview that her 12-year-old son, Sean Preston, usually shoots the videos she posts on social media, but says Asghari has pushed to make them more polished.
“He’s a trainer so everything has to be so perfect. We probably did 40 [takes] and I hurt myself,” Spears joked in an interview with The Associated Press. “It looked great, he did a good job and he edited it really, really well.”
When he’s working out on his own, Asghari says Spears still motivates him through her music — his favorite Britney song is “Stronger.” “I put my headphones in and focus on the exercise itself — that’s therapy for me,” he says.
During the couple's downtime, Asghari likes cooking for Spears. Some of their favorites are panini sandwiches, pesto pasta and chicken dishes. When they go out to eat, Asghari isn't afraid to bend the rules of his diet. “If the ravioli looks good on a date night, I’m eating it,” he says.
But they’re both busy, with Spears touring in the U.S. and Europe and Asghari juggling multiple projects. Spears, who has been in the entertainment business since she was 11, is a huge inspiration for Asghari — and he supports her, too.
“She motivates me more than anyone. It’s crazy how I can be humbled by a person like her. If I could be that humble when I’m that high in life, that would be the best thing,” Asghari says. “I grew up with three sisters, and my personality is just to be a supportive person for my family and she’s family. I’m always going to support her. She is another blessing that happened to me.”
With Spears’ support, Asghari is preparing to take his acting from commercials and music videos to the big screen. This summer, he will star in his first lead role in a movie. (He can’t yet give details due to contractual details, he says.)
“I’ve been preparing myself for everything ever since I was little, so it’s not surprising that everything is happening,” he says.
“When great things happen to me, it only motivates me and puts me in a position where I have to work even harder. I think about how far my family came, and everything they sacrificed for me to be here, so I never take anything for granted.”
Asghari says he is open to acting in all kinds of genres, including comedy, action, and drama, but just wants to make sure to take on roles that inspire others like the ones that inspired him growing up.
“When I was a kid, I would look at action stars, superheroes and even comedians with amazing performances, and they changed my life,” Asghari says.
“There are a lot of people that don’t have heroes in their lives. I want to be in a film that’s going to touch the most hearts.”
Sam and Britney's Couples Workout:
Standing partner crunch with kiss
Alternative: Each perform crunches 8 reps each
Lying/plank leg kick 5 reps on each leg, 10 reps total
Alternative: One person holds plank, other does push-ups 10 reps
Alternative: One person does hollow body hold, other does push-ups 8 reps
Partner sit-ups with kiss One person do 12 reps, then switch with your boo.