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Summer reissue: I spent a week living like Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson and it nearly killed me

Everybody wants to be like The Rock but what happens when you actually try and live like him? Madeleine Chapman was foolish enough to find out.

First published May 18, 2016.

Gym, movie set, movie set, gym, throwback Thursday, movie set, gym. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s Instagram page is both inspiring and extremely repetitive. Whether it’s his known work ethic or an actual vibe, The Rock’s Instagram page feels disciplined. There are no surprises, just a lot of motivational captions for all 51 million of his followers.

A recent change to the constant stream of gym selfies, fan photos and movie sets, was the release of his new free app The Rock Clock. The Rock Clock is a clock by The Rock that allows you to wake up when his mighty Rockness wakes up. When I downloaded the app for LOLs, “Rock Time” was 4:15am. LOL.

From this historic day forward – I’m waking your ass up;). The #RockClock has arrived. This app is FREE. Download NOW in my bio. We’ve spent over a year engineering this app for you. Our goal was create a free, direct, uncomplicated, cool, motivating app to help us all get after our goals every morning. I also wanted to totally disrupt the traditional “morning alarm” system we all use on our phones. We created fun, cheesy bad assery alarm tones (yes, that’s me really singing and playing guitar to wake your ass up;) and one of my favorite features of the #RockClock is the dreaded snooze button does not exist. Absolutely BEST part of #RockClock is that I’ll be able to track all your goals and you’ll track mine. We’ll chase our greatness and kick some ass. Or get our asses kicked;) Either way, we’ll do it together. Enjoy the free app, share your goals with me and world by using the hashtag #ProjectRock. I’ll be shouting you guys out personally via video messages on this app, so let’s chase our greatness, get after it and as always have some fun along the way. Aaaaand one more thing.. there’s also a function where you sync your phone with mine and you wake up when I wake up. But your candy ass probably ain’t ready for that kinda magical action 😉🦄. #RockClock #ProjectRock #ByeByeSnoozeButton #HelloGreatness

A video posted by therock (@therock) on

But The Rock Clock doesn’t just promise an early rise, it promotes self-improvement, goal setting and finding your inner Rock. I wanted to find my inner Rock as much as the next Instagram follower so I decided to take it a step further and not only wake up when The Rock woke up, but train like The Rock, eat like The Rock, be The Rock. For one week. A white man had once done the same thing but The Rock had his reservations.

The poor guy couldn’t be The Rock because he wasn’t half Samoan. I am half Samoan so this should definitely work.

I found all his training schedules and eating plans online then set about telling everyone what I was doing to create enough public shame if I didn’t follow through. Would it be enough? I truly wasn’t sure; my shame threshold is abnormally high.

There was a general consensus that this was a very stupid idea but I played it down. I had joined a gym for the first time in my life the week before and felt like I should use it. But he’s The Rock, they said, and you’re you, a girl who used to play sport but now just slowly puts on weight. It’s only one week as The Rock, I said. Monday to Sunday. Seven days, six workouts. How hard could it be?

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I lived as The Rock for one week. Here is my diary.

Sunday 8th May

2:30pm Eating McDonalds in LynnMall surrounded by young families with small children. This is my Last Supper. Pray for me.

7:00pm There is so much food to prepare. Chicken breasts, canned tuna, potatoes, mixed veges, rice, rice, some more rice. Seven meals a day seems excessive but who am I to question The Rock. Only now realising how little I know about cooking and food and everything else in the world.

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7:05pm This is my second time doing meal prep. Did it all yesterday then went to a party, got back at 2am and ate half of the chicken I’d cooked while watching The Office.

8:30pm I’m supposed to be in bed already but this chicken is taking forever.

8:35pm Overcooked the chicken. And the beef.

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9:30pm Finally in bed feeling organised and accomplished. Too bad the week hasn’t actually started yet. The Rock Clock has been set for 4:15am and I’m starting to think this week might actually be quite fun.

Monday 9th May

4:15am What an idiot.

5:25am I never run and now I’ve technically been running for 45 minutes. I am exceeding my expectations. This is what being The Rock is all about. Maybe I could actually be a runner if I really put my mind to it.

5:30am Warming down, I look over at the guy on the treadmill next to me and see that his is set to the same speed that I was running, except he’s walking.

5:40am At home for breakfast. Cold boiled egg, cold pieces of cooked chicken and a bowl of bland porridge. Three things that are hard to eat in the same meal and even harder to keep down while still in a full-body sweat. Will post a gym selfie to Instagram like The Rock. Have to make it look inspiring and include a long, motivational caption.

5:45m Nope, I can’t do it.

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6:00am Back at the gym for my first ever full leg workout.

6:01am 100 weighted lunges?!

6:30am Why are there so many exercises?

7:00am Never done leg extensions before. Three sets of 20 reps sounds alright. I’ll put the pin at 30kg.

7:02am Have done 5. Think I’m more suited to 24kg.

7:03am 15 down and better switch to 18kg.

7:05am 12kg for the second set, here we go.

7:07am It doesn’t go below 6kg. Goddammit.

7:40am Making a real effort to not stall the car with my trembling legs on the drive home. People are loving the gym selfie. Lots of likes and support. Interesting.

8:30am Sculled a Powerade in the shower. Tried to shave my legs then had to sit down instead before they buckled.

9:00am Walking to the train and just realised how heavy my bag is. There must be at least 3kg of food in there that I’m supposed to eat today.

9:05am Kind of need to use the bathroom. Will wait until I get to work because the train is here.

9:10am Definitely should’ve used the bathroom at home. This is becoming uncomfortable.

9:30am Train has stopped on the tracks and hasn’t moved in ten minutes. If my pants had a fly I would unzip it to free my bursting bladder but it doesn’t so instead I whimper quietly and hunch forward. Something tells me that The Rock doesn’t have to deal with this sort of thing.

9:40am Finally arrive in town and hobble to the bathroom.

9:42am Yeeeessssssssss.

10:00am Enter the office to workmate asking “How have the first five hours of being The Rock been?” It’s only been five hours? Can feel time continuum shrinking and folding around me. Four days is three seconds. Two seconds is a lifetime. It’s only been five and a bit hours since I woke up. Life is eternal.

2:00pm Onto my fourth meal of the day. Rice, chicken and veges. Think I may not have put enough water in my rice because it is dry.

5:00pm The Rock has said he works for 12 hours every day. No way am I telling my boss that I’ll work 12 hours. I’ll go home now as per usual even though I showed up an hour late. This is not sticking with The Rock’s schedule but neither did the rice so we’re even.

5:30pm Fell asleep on the train home and dribbled on the window sill.

7:30pm Monday nights are family night dinners at Aunty Henga’s. Was going to ask if there would be chicken and rice but remembered it’s a Samoan family dinner, of course there’ll be chicken and rice.

9:oopm I’ve never had a protein shake before but it’s not bad. Apparently it looks “disgusting” and “undrinkable” because I’m allergic to dairy products and used water instead of milk.

10:00pm Face is slowly expanding like Will Smith’s in Hitch. Turns out whey protein powder contains whey. No more protein shakes for me. Feel like I should get an easier workout due to no recovery substances but before I can think of a compromise, I fall asleep.

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Tuesday 10th May

4:15am Wake up and can’t move. Is this what rigor mortis feels like because I might be dead. At least my face has deflated overnight.

4:30am The only thing worse than leg day is trying to do cardio the morning after leg day.

5:15am Can’t bring myself to post a gym selfie two days in a row. Does The Rock take all his own photos or does he have someone with him at 5am? There are some full body shots on his Instagram and I want to know if he uses self timer.

Not self timer

Not self timer

5:30am Eat my boiled egg and tuna in the car at the gym. Praying that I don’t fart while trying to lift something.

9:15pm Today was exactly the same as yesterday. Nearly pee’d on the train, ate too much dry rice, fell asleep at my desk and on the train. I’m not even halfway. Help me.

Wednesday 11th May

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4:15am Feeling a deep sense of regret and despair at the sound of The Rock’s voice this morning. Hump Day is no joke. Leg pain has not weakened, instead has been joined by back pain.

4:30am Think I’ll go on the rowing machine today. Can’t possibly be worse than running.

5:30am It’s way worse. Now I need to stretch my back.

5:45am Whoops, fell asleep for a bit there.

6:00am I think I should say hi to some of the other early gym dwellers. Seems rude not to.

6:15am I nodded, he stared, he did nothing, he carried on with his life.

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6:45am They just said a maths riddle on the radio and I know the answer. Basic maths is my forte, just ask my year 4 teacher, Mrs Taylor. Texted in my answer and am now awaiting the coming glory.

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6:50am They repeated the riddle and I misheard it the first time and sent in the wrong answer. They read out all the incorrect text answers, including mine. Like Mulan, I have brought dishonour on my family.

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8:40am On the train and still embarrassed about texting in the wrong answer. This is the sort of thing that keeps me up at night.

9:00am Woken up by the man next to me trying to gently push my sleeping body off him so he can get off the train. I don’t think I drooled on him but can’t be sure.

1:00pm Chicken and rice again. This is the longest day in history.

2:00pm Dear God it’s still going.

6:00pm Fell asleep on the train and missed my stop. Only woken by my head hitting the window dangerously hard. Woman in front of me turned and asked if I was okay. Overcompensated for my embarrassment by yelling “YES I’M FINE THANKS HA HA”

6:15pm Where am I.

7:30pm Finally home from God knows where.

8:00pm In bed. I have been extremely lucky in life so far and everything is relative but today might be one of the worst days of my life.

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Thursday 12th May

4:15am I slept for eight hours. Why does it still feel like I’m getting up five hours too early?


5:30am Usual cardio, usual death.

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Not making a face, it was arms day

6:45am There’s another maths riddle on the radio and once again I know the answer because I am Rain Man. But doubts are creeping in. They’re reminding me of yesterday’s shame. But then again, if I call in I could win a prize. I never win prizes.

6:45 and 15 seconds No, don’t do it. Don’t embarrass yourself on the air. That droney, monosyllabic voice of yours is too recognisable.

6:45 and 20 seconds Don’t be a pussy. This is your chance for glory.

6:45 and 25 seconds What would The Rock do?

6:45 and 30 seconds Oh my God it’s ringing. I’ve never been on the radio before.

6:46 I’m on the air. They repeat the riddle and I give my answer as if it’s a question. 65? There is zero confidence in my voice and zero enthusiasm.

6:50am Introducing #AndNew Riddle Champion, Madeleine Chapman. Redemption. Victory after defeat. An act of courage worthy of a heavily worded, poorly credited quote in image form.

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9:00am Still riding the high of winning what will most likely be a very disappointing prize pack. This is how life as The Rock is supposed to be. Just a whole bunch of free stuff and working out. Except now I have to drive all the way to Piha for work.

12:00pm On a set visit for work and they’re shooting in a dormitory filled with bunk beds. Everyone is joking about how bad it is but I would pay good money to take a nap on one of those thin, thin mattresses.

12:30pm Goddammit I forgot my food. Stomach is rumbling and it’s making me nervous. How sensitive are the microphones on a film set?

2:00pm Working from home for the afternoon like a true adult and desperately trying not to fall asleep. According to The Rock’s schedule, he gets about four hours of sleep a night. In other words, he should be dead.

6:43pm Just had the following conversation with my cousin.

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I’m usually a very boring person but this is getting out of hand.

7:00pm At the liquor store shopping for tequila. It’s Press Club tomorrow which means a day off work to eat and booze in Hamilton. The Rock only drinks tequila. Just tequila. Tequila on the rocks. Straight tequila. I assume he drinks fancy white sipping tequila so I buy a small bottle of Pepe Lopez.

Friday 13th May

4:15am It’s leg day again but my legs still hurt from Monday. I don’t think that’s how it’s supposed to work.

5:00am SUCCESS. While sweating out my body weight on the elliptical, one of the regulars walked in and said hello to me. I’ve done it, I’m a true gym regular. Too bad he’ll probably never see me again after today.

Self timer

Self timer

7:00am Look at my legs in the mirror for ten minutes, trying to see any muscle. Don’t act like you’ve never peered closely at your stomach after doing ten crunches.

8:00am Work up a sweat trying to shave my legs again.

9:00am Trying to bulk eat because I don’t want to take a container of chicken and rice down to a fancy lunch.

11:00am Fell asleep in the van going to Hamilton.

12:30pm At Press Club and people are mingling after getting either a wine or beer at the bar. Trying to figure out how to magically transfer tequila from tacky bottle to classy glass.

12:45pm It was easy, just did it under the table.

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1:30pm What is the etiquette re: asking for seconds at a fancy sit-down lunch?

2:00pm Still sipping this tequila as if it’s not Pepe Lopez.

5:00pm We’ve migrated to another bar and people have ordered food platters. Slowly building up my resistance to the glorious food that will soon be emerging.

5:15pm The food platters have arrived with all their yellow carb goodness. I cradle my tiny bowl of olives and pickles and try not to cry at the injustice.

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6:00pm If we head back to Auckland soon I might even be able to get a good night’s sleep. There’s nothing that says you can’t get very drunk and also be effective the next morning at 4am.

6:05pm But history has proven it to be highly unlikely.

7:00pm Everyone else has finally gotten to a state of drunkenness where they are willing to join me on the tequila train. It’s 7pm. What a time to be alive.

8:00pm Heading back to Auckland feeling really good about tomorrow morning. I can sleep in the car then I’ll be in bed by 11 and can get another solid five hours of sleep. Honestly, I’m living a blessed life.

10:45pm Somehow between the car and the front door I have become narcoleptic. Can’t let self fall asleep before setting my alarm on the Rock Clock.

10:50pm Okay, phone is plugged in, just have to wait for it to turn on.

10:51pm This is harder than I thought.

10:52pm Just how dead was my phone before?

10:53pm COME ON IPHONE 4.

10:54pm Rock Clock is set so now I can-

Saturday 14th May

2:15am Sweet baby Jesus I feel sick.

2:17am Ugh.

2:18am Oh these cold tiles feel nice. I wonder what they’d feel like if I lay down on them.

4:15am Somebody’s yelling at me. Why is my back so cold? Am I outside? Oh my god I’m being kidnapped.

4:16am Never mind it’s just The Rock yelling at me from my room while I lay on these freezing cold bathroom tiles. Somebody shut him up please.

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Just having a quick nap

4:17am Fine, I’ll do it.

4:18am Just fell down the stairs. It’s carpeted down here, real nice to sleep on but The Rock is still hollering.

4:20am Sweet silence. My inner sensible voice says I probably shouldn’t be driving anywhere right now. Maybe I could run to the gym for my cardio. Actually no, it’s raining.

4:45am CRAAAAAAMP.

5:00am Have eaten some chicken (gross), oatmeal (gross), and drank a litre of water (good).

6:00am Successfully made it to the gym. Whether or not I had to stop and throw up on the way isn’t important.

6:15am My brother has always said the best way to get rid of a hangover is to sweat it out.

6:30am Sometimes my brother says some dumb things.

7:00am Final Rock workout is the chest. Judging by his giant pecs, it’s a good one. I’ve always considered my arms and chest to be quite strong because I can throw things a long way.

7:30am I have been living a lie.

8:00am I wonder if people will judge me for using the 4kg dumbbells.

9:00am Slept standing up in the shower and now am back in bed. The feeling of not having to fall asleep on the train today is indescribable.

12:oopm Actually feeling okay. Maybe my brother was right.

12:01pm Probably just a coincidence, he says a lot of dumb things.

3:00pm Have sent out a family group invite to Denny’s at midnight. Sunday is The Rock’s rest day and since I’m only doing one week (thank god), Sunday is my cheat day. Once the clock strikes midnight, I will Cinderella myself to Denny’s for a Rock-style cheat meal.

5:00pm Just counting down the hours till midnight.

8:00pm Oh man, I’m quite sleepy.

8:15pm Just weighed myself and I’m almost four kilos lighter than last Sunday. Again, I don’t think that’s how this is supposed to work.

9:00pm I’m falling asleep. Maybe I should just cancel the midnight meal and have it tomorrow. Except that wouldn’t go with the theme of this week which has been be awake when you should be asleep, be asleep when you should be awake. Will have a power nap instead.

11:45pm The Rock is yelling at me again but this time it’s a joyful sound. It’s a hummingbird on a summer’s day. It’s a baby laughing. It’s The Rock telling me I can eat whatever I want.

Sunday 15th May

1:05am It’s finally here. The fries are cold, the patty’s overcooked, but it’s here.

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1:30am Am now surely back to starting weight and all is right with the world.

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Scrolling through The Rock’s Instagram feed, it is easy to feel envious of his life. He’s always grinning; at the gym, on movie sets, eating pancakes. But that’s Instagram. I didn’t even try to look happy in my Instagram posts throughout the week and yet people loved them. There was so much encouragement and support and, weirdly, admiration. But in reality, at work, there was a whole lot of pity. Because waking up at 4am, working out for nearly three hours, and eating only boring protein is a horrible way to live.

I do not envy The Rock at all.

Of course there were benefits. I had to run to the shop on Sunday and somehow wasn’t sweaty when I arrived. It was great. For some people, it could be tempting to see how long you could live as The Rock and it would only do good things for your health.

You know what, maybe I’ll do just that. But I probably won’t.

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