Among many things, Mr. Romano is a well-known writer, debater, radio show host, previous gym owner, and a coach. Additionally, as many already know, he has been around the bodybuilding industry for decades. Romano is also a man behind many strong opinions; agree with him or not, he always pocess the ability to deliver fire fast intelligent answers to the questions he’s facing in one way or another.
So let’s not wait anylonger, let us instead dive into the interview and welcome Mr. Romano to Beyond the Stage!
RM: Mr. Romano, you’ve been around the bodybuilding industry for decades, what are your impressions and conclusions after all these years?
JR: That’s not an interview question, that’s the premiss for a book! ….. Geesh. Well, I guess if I were to condense it, I’d have to conclude that after 30 years in the industry I’m disappointed that we haven’t gotten more deeply imbedded in the mainstream. I know we’re a niche sport and all that, but I was watching the X-Games the other day and every singe event on there wasn’t around 10 years ago, let alone when bodybuilding started. I mean, freestyle snowmobiling – complete with back flips? Why is Red Bull sponsoring that and not us? (That’s a rhetorical question, the answer is obvious). What better main stream sponsor to endorse bodybuilding than Red Bull?? It’s disappointing that we can lay claim to the highest paid, most famous actor in the world, but his bodybuilding title (Mr. Olympia) is still as obscure as it was when Arnold first won it. I think that’s a tremendous failing on our part. A guy, who’s parents weren’t even born when Arnold competed, doing a back flip on a snowmobile has main stream sponsors and acceptance, but a world champion bodybuilder doing a back pose has nothing coming. There is so much good and helpful that bodybuilding could have brought to the masses, but we took it another way.
RM: You’ve decided to move back to the US after living in Mexico for a few years. What were the reasons behind that decision?
JR: I guess if I had it my way I’d still be living there. But, after three years in Guadalajara, and doing business in Guadalajara, the challenges brought on by the differences in culture (I’m being kind) were just too much for me and my family. It was especially relevant in our son’s education. No matter how much we paid for private schools he still wasn’t getting the quality education he’s getting here in the states. He’s a sophomore in high school now and doing much better than he could possibly have done down there, much happier too. My wife is an attorney and wanted to practice law again after pursuing her physique career. We owned a Gold’s Gym in Mexico, so it was a great opportunity for her to focus on competing. She qualified, got her pro card and competed in two pro shows in 14 months. That’s a fast track we could never have followed if she was still prosecuting criminals all day in south Florida. Plus, we’re all bilingual now and that’s a great asset to have these days. So, I look at it as a chapter in our lives that ran its course, and now it’s on to other things.
RM: You are considered by many; even a few of your adversaries, to be one of the best column writers in the history of bodybuilding, so I must ask you what makes a great writer from your perspective?
JR: Best writers “in the history of bodybuilding?” Whoa!!! That’s a mighty big mouth full that I’m not too convinced I deserve. There are certainly better writers than me, but I think I can hold my own. I guess if I am any good it’s because I’m writing about something I love and something I know well. I also have a hard time keeping my fingers still when I’m faced with some of the bullshit our industry pushes out. Some guys can keep their mouths shut, I can’t. I also think it’s because I write, every day, and have for many years. Steven King writes 10 pages a day, Hemingway wrote 500 words a day. I fall somewhere in between, probably 2,000 – 2,500 words a day. I put down the words because anything you do at that level you’ll do well. It’s like practicing the piano, the guy who plays for three hours a day is going to be pretty prolific after 30 years.
RM: What are your biggest interest/hobbies besides training and the sport of bodybuilding?
JR: I love to cook. It’s kind of ironic for a guy who has to constantly diet, but my wife and I usually afford ourselves a cheat day once a week and we make the most of it!! I really enjoy riding my bicycle – I guess that falls into working out? I’m also a car and motorcycle junkie, I follow politics, and I read a lot. I also spend a lot of time working around the house, remodeling, landscaping and general home improvements. And then there is the watch collection…..
JR: You know, people have asked me this before. The older I get the more I change my answer. When I was younger, I would say I would have done this or that differently, or had regrets about some of the decisions I’ve made… But, now I don’t. I have no regrets. Everything I’ve done and decided have lead me to where I am today, and today I’m a really happy and content guy. So, no, no regrets. Indeed some of the things I’ve done have been hard on me, but no regrets.
RM: What advices would you give young guys who want to pursue a pro bodybuilding career
JR: Don’t. Take up freestyle snowmobiling
RM: Time to finish up this interview; if you have any last words Romano, please enlighten us:
JR: Funny, I used to write a column called The Last Word…. Bodybuilding is a great pursuit. It probably saved my life. I grew up fairly obese and it was bodybuilding that got me to take an interest in my body and my health when I was 12 years old. I’ve been slugging away in the gym ever since. Other than rattling pots and pans over the stove, there’s nothing else in my life I can say I’ve been consistently doing, and trying to improve upon for 43 years. It’s true
bodybuilding is a fringe element of pop culture and few people understand us, but it truly does
bring a great many good and important things to our lives. We learn commitment, how to take on challenges, how to set goals and strive to achieve them and how to be true to ourselves. I’m very grateful my father called me into the family room when I was 12 to watch the 1972 Mr. Olympia and I saw Sergio Oliva hit a crab shot that nearly eclipsed his ears; it gave me something I wanted to accomplish and a life long pursuit of something I thought was insanely cool.
I’m grateful I found something that ignited a passion in me that attracted me to follow it for almost all of my life. It also gave me a career that I enjoy and a slew of incredible people that I call my friends. So, When people ask me about how to break into bodybuilding or what advise I’d give them, the short answer is usually to take up something else if they think they are going to eek out a tremendous career lifting weights and posing. It’s only going to happen for a scant few people and if you have to ask me, you’re probably not one of them. However, bodybuilding is one of the best things you can add to your life. You will learn so much about yourself, your life, how your body works and how life works. It’s a strange thing we do, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything else, not even doing back flips on a snowmobile.
RM: Romano, thank you for participating in this interview. As always it’s has been interesting to take part of your opinions and answers. Best of luck with your re-establishment in US, and have a great spring and up-coming summer of 2016!
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