DJ Steve Aoki, performing Sunday, puts his money on his muscles

This year, DJ-producer Steve Aoki plans to lay down hundreds of thousands of dollars in healthy bets — bets with friends that he will exercise and that they will exercise.

If people involved in these bets miss a physical workout, they owe each other cash.

What kind of exercising is involved?

The serious kind.

“If you do a 40-minute ‘Insanity’ workout, that’s considered a workout. Or an hour in the gym. Just enough where you’re really” worn out, Aoki says.

After the first three months of 2013, Aoki had already made 15 bets totaling $18,000. But he anticipates a large crop of bets this year.

“If I don’t work out at all, I’m likely to lose close to $200,000” in 2013, Aoki says.


“We’re just supporting each other to say, ‘You gotta work out or you gotta pay at the end of the day.’ If you don’t burn calories, you’re gonna burn money in your pocket.”

Aoki — who DJs Sunday at MGM’s Wet Republic dayclub then at Hakkasan nightclub — started down this road in a previous year with poker pro Antonio Esfandiari.

“Antonio Esfandiari is the one who got me into this,” Aoki says. “He’s the first one that did a year workout. I ended up owning him $2,000, which he donated to my charitable fund. He was a charitable man,” Aoki says. (The Steve Aoki Charitable Fund raises money on tour and elsewhere for existing relief organizations that help people in need.)

“I treat these bets like any other bets, like signing a contract,” Aoki says. “If I make money from friends, it goes to the charitable fund.”

Aoki makes many bets with music-industry road crew and managers and such for, say, $100 each.

“Most of these people I’m doing bets with don’t work out. That’s why I put these bets out there, so they’ll get healthier and treat their bodies seriously,” Aoki says.

“One guy I know is probably gonna get diabetes in 10 years because he doesn’t eat very well. I’m trying to get him to work out.”

But Aoki, 35, who is based in San Francisco, makes funny side bets too, like the one with his buddy Gary Richards (the music promoter who DJs by the name of Destructo).

“I have $100 bet with Gary Richards,” Aoki says.

“If we don’t call each other once a month and talk for five minutes about quality bromance kind of material — like homie stuff — then we each owe each other $100.”

So that’s how you get your old friends to call you.

Doug Elfman’s column appears on Page 3A in the main section on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. He also writes for Neon on Fridays. Email him at delfman@reviewjournal.com. He blogs at reviewjournal.com/elfman.