A former gym instructor was tasked with keeping Hollywood stars in shape on the set of The Lord of the Rings prequel The Hobbit.
Peter Jackson’s forthcoming film features the likes of Martin Freeman, Sir Ian McKellen, Benedict Cumberbatch, James Nesbitt, Cate Blanchett, Elijah Wood and Orlando Bloom.
And it was the job of Craig Budgen, 28, to help the celebrated cast stay fighting fit during filming in New Zealand.
Craig, who was a promising footballer in his teens, became a fitness instructor when injury cut short his playing days at Stockport County.
Working at gyms including Total Fitness in West Strand Road, Preston, he ventured into consultancy roles and is now a personal trainer to a variety of celebrities including actors and models.
Last year he spotted an intriguing advert for a training role around 12,000 miles away in Wellington.
He said: “It wasn’t specific and didn’t say who I would be training, but I decided to go for an interview.
“I landed in New Zealand on the Sunday, had an interview on the Wednesday and started the following Monday.
“The challenge for the guys on The Hobbit was getting them through a full day of filming in a heavy costume.
“Their costumes were anything from 20kg to 40kg and they were in them for up to 16 hours a day.
“Obviously if you add an extra 40kgs to your weight for 16 hours and you’re moving around filming fight scenes, the risk of injury is quite high.
“ It was a lot of strength work, so if they were shooting a scene where they were fighting or running they could do a take, recover, do a take again and keep going, so the film looked the part.”
Craig worked closely with the Northern Irish actor and former Cold Feet star James Nesbitt, who plays a dwarf called Bofur in the adaption of J.R.R. Tolkien’s adventure.
He said: “I was a consultant to the full cast and I was available to all of them. James Nesbitt was one of the main cast members that I worked with and that was really good.
“He was really down to earth, exactly as you see him on TV. It was a great experience.”
Craig, who lives in Manchester, said his success in his chosen field more than made up for missing out on a career as a professional footballer.
He said: “Everything happens for a reason. What I’m doing now doesn’t feel like a job and I never feel like I’m working. Football wasn’t my passion like this is.”
Craig’s next project is an online weightloss programme he has devised called The Xcellerator Programme, in which he hopes to give people the knowledge to change their lifestyle.
To find out more visit www.lifeproadvance.com.