The thing was, Yuan wasn’t a personal trainer. He was, however, a martial artist, an actor, a fight coordinator — and he happened to be in the process of training Daniel Craig for his action scenes as James Bond in “Skyfall.”
Yuan wasn’t interested. Then his manager told him who had made the request.
“My manager goes, ‘It’s Tim McGraw.’ And I go, ‘What? The country guy?’” Yuan, 58, tells The Post with a laugh. “I had no knowledge of the whole country music thing, but I knew the name Tim McGraw.”
The country superstar — or one of his assistants — had come across Yuan’s name, most likely in connection to his having trained Craig, or perhaps Henry Cavill for his pre-“Superman” flick “Immortals.” Yuan says McGraw told him he wanted to try something a little different to help him fine-tune his fitness and get in the shape he desired.
So Yuan, suspicious but curious, agreed to fly to Nashville for a one-week trial. That quickly turned into five weeks.
Seven years later, they’re still working together, and McGraw is releasing his own wellness book, “Grit & Grace: Train the Mind, Train the Body, Own Your Life,” out Tuesday. McGraw will discuss the book with Jenna Bush Hager at the Union Square Barnes & Noble on Monday at 7 p.m.
McGraw credits Yuan in the book for having shaped his “fitness attitude and workout plan over the past seven years more than anyone else.”
When Yuan first linked up with McGraw, the musician was already an avid runner and using the P90X regimen.
But Yuan helped him change things up, incorporating ground gymnastics, yoga, martial arts, Tai chi, and animal flow — movement meant to take a body back to its primal roots.
“I started reading and researching about what the human body is capable of doing, but we no longer do very much of because of everything that’s available, like cars and technology,” says Yuan. “Tim totally bought into it and loved it.”
McGraw encourages his readers to embrace Yuan’s cycle of “21-day chunks,” in which you commit to three weeks of one particular activity, such as swimming or bodyweight strength training.
“If you do something for 21 days in a row, it basically becomes a habit,” says Yuan, who can be seen in the upcoming 2020 remakes of “Mulan” and “Dune.”
“It gets you into a thinking process and into a physical practice process, and without knowing it, you start to jones for it. You crave it, if it’s not there.”
McGraw certainly seems to crave peak fitness. Yuan says the singer is, physically, the hardest-working person he’s ever trained.
“That’s a compliment, but it was also a critique,” says Yuan. “I said to him, ‘You need to not train so hard because you’re going to tear apart your body.’ ”
It’s been a hard lesson for McGraw to learn. At a March 2018 concert in Dublin, Ireland, he performed his hit “Humble and Kind” and then collapsed on stage from dehydration.
Yuan suggested McGraw had likely not given his body enough rest after flying overseas and jumping into another workout.
“I [told him], ‘You’ve got to tone down the training,’” says Yuan, “and I think he’s taken me up on [that].”
But you wouldn’t know McGraw has toned anything down, given the sizzling six pack he shows off in the book.
Unfortunately, Yuan says there’s no secret to the 52-year-old’s abs. They’re courtesy of a good diet and core exercises aplenty.
“Hard work,” he says. “It’s just hard, hard work.”
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