‘NCIS:’ Mark Harmon’s Go-To Form of Exercise May Surprise You

Mark Harmon is known worldwide as the face of NCIS. Starring as Leroy Jethro Gibbs in the most-watched scripted show on the air, Mark Harmon’s celebrity status spreads nations and demographics. And his hard-to-resist character – harboring long-term regrets, shying away from vulnerability, and putting all his energy into his career – keeps people coming back for more. 

Though Mark Harmon is known for his work on TV – starring in St. Elsewhere, Chicago Hope, Reasonable Doubts, and 240-Robert – before NCIS was even a twinkle in creator Bellisario’s eye, Harmon almost had a career in sports. 

'NCIS' star Mark Harmon
‘NCIS’ star Mark Harmon | Photo by Hannes Magerstaedt/Getty Images

Mark Harmon was a quarterback for UCLA and had quite a good shot at going pro. As the son of the College Football Hall of Fame Halfback and 1940 Heisman Trophy Winner, Tony Harmon, it should come as no surprise that Harmon’s got athletic blood running through his veins; he even enjoyed playing baseball. To put it simply, he was, and to this day still is, an all-around athlete. 

Though you may think that Harmon runs some old-school college football drills when it comes to working out, the man has found a new form of exercise that works quite well for him. During an interview with Men’s Journal, Mark Harmon discussed his football past, his TV career, and his go-to form of exercise, which – if you don’t know much about it – may surprise you.

‘NCIS’ star Mark Harmon says pilates “kicks [his] ass”  

During an interview with Men’s Journal, Mark Harmon was asked, “So what are you doing to keep in shape these days?” Mark Harmon responded:

“Pilates. It completely kicks my ass. [I had a] shoulder injury [that drew me to Pilates]. The physical therapist I went to was all about that. They kick your ass on these machines. I was a big runner after college — I used to do 60 to 70-mile weeks every week. I wish I had some of that back now. [Pilates] is all about controlling the machine, and that’s twice as hard.”

Men’s Journal

To all of you out there who knock pilates, take it from the 67-year-old former college football star who leads an action-oriented primetime show with ease: it’s a great way to stay in shape. And, the exercises are far from easy. Forced to “control the machine,” as Harmon notes, the workouts are physically demanding, and keep the body healthy. 

Mark Harmon discusses how fitness plays a role in his career 

As fans of NCIS know, each season consists of over 20 episodes; meaning, Mark Harmon’s life as the lead of a hit show is no walk in the park. He must wake up early and come to work, ready to get into character and snap into action. When asked how fitness plays a role in his career, Harmon stated:

“When you’re 18 to 22, you’re never out of shape. Training is what you do, it’s what you wake up in the morning doing and go to bed at night thinking about, and that’s your job, so to speak. I don’t know that that has changed for me. The job I have, whether it’s this job or some other job, I’m usually aware of that. It’s every bit as much about the physical as it is about anything mental. I try to take care of myself and try to eat well and try to get [my] rest. I don’t do the same stuff I was doing when I was 24 years old.”

Men’s Journal

To Harmon, every job is a physical and mental responsibility. He keeps his body in check – eats well and works out – which help keep his mind sharp. It’s that simple.