Trainer Paul on Cruise control

IT'S not everybody who gets one-to-one with the world's most famous actor - but Paul Etheridge had the privilege of keeping Tom Cruise at the peak of fitness.

IT'S not everybody who gets one-to-one with the world's most famous actor - but Paul Etheridge had the privilege of keeping Tom Cruise at the peak of fitness.

Ipswich-born Mr Etheridge was top star Cruise's personal trainer for a month while the actor and Nicole Kidman were in Britain promoting their movie Eyes Wide Shut.

The pair got on so well that on his next few visits to the country, Cruise would call him up to do fitness work.

“I can't say we were best buddies and would hang out together at night, but it was a lot of fun working with him,” said Mr Etheridge, 30, the new course leader for outdoor education at Otley College.

“I was just very lucky - I was working as a self-employed personal trainer at the time and a lot of the clients were people who were coming over here for filming for a period of time and needed someone to work with them.

“I got hooked up with Tom Cruise while he was here promoting Eyes Wide Shut for four weeks, and then when he would return to the UK he would call me up and we would work together again.

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“All the work was one-to-one and we had a lot in common because Tom has a huge interest in climbing, as I do and is a very competent climber - it was great to be able to talk about something other than fitness and nutrition.

“Most people I worked with as a personal trainer just wanted to keep their levels of fitness - it's not always easy when you are in hotels all the time, being plied with food and drink, or to keep your fitness regime on holiday.”

With Tom Cruise he was doing cardio vascular work and helping the star to improve his upper body strength, although he had a high level of strength and fitness already.

“I haven't heard from him since we worked together, but if he wants to come on a climbing expedition with me, he can give me a call any time!” said Mr Etheridge.

Educated at Copleston High, Mr Etheridge is Otley's action man - and is training to head out to France for three weeks to climb the North ridge of the Matterhorn mountain, with no guides or porters.

“I like to set myself a challenge each year because I believe what we do with our bodies is far, far less than our bodies are capable of doing - in our culture, we can give up too easy, so I like to challenge myself and push myself to the limit,” he said.

“We are aiming to get the summit carrying seven days of kit rather than leaving them at a base camp. Even though it will be summer and people on the ground in France and Switzerland will be getting a lovely tan, up in the mountains it will be down to minus 20C and the windchill factor and rain could make it even more uncomfortable.”

At Otley, he teaches students the outdoor life - training them to be leaders for outdoor courses and activities such as mountaineering, climbing, mountain biking, canoeing, kayaking and other sports.

“It may be flat Suffolk, but we are doing mountaineering! To see the interest the students have is absolutely fantastic and I want to pass on to them my enthusiasm and knowledge in a fun way so they can see how much fun can be had in the outdoor environment,” he said.

FASTFACTS: Tom Cruise

Cruise, 45, was last year named the 2006 world's No 1 star according to the annual Celebrity 100 power list, which ranks the famous based on earnings and buzz - he is the only celebrity to have topped the list twice.

At school is was on the soccer and wrestling teams, but took up acting after losing his place on a wrestling team, due to a knee injury.

Films include Eyes Wide Shut, Top Gun, War of the Worlds, The Last Samurai, Vanilla Sky, The Minority Report, and the Mission Impossible series.

He always said he was not into extravagant gifts, but when he started dating new wife Katie Holmes, he bought her a jet.

As well as a host of acting awards, he has been voted one of the 50 most beautiful people in the world and named as “Sexiest Man Alive”.

Enjoys skydiving, scuba diving, climbing and piloting his Pitts Special S-2B stunt plane

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