Well, we’re coming to the close of another year—and, if the Mayans are to be believed, pretty close the end of existence—so I thought it would be a good idea to do a fun post and keep things interesting.
2011 was a pretty big year for ol’ Roman, and a lot of the things that I’ve long wanted to accomplish came to fruition. Some of them were the result of a lot of hard work and planning…while others just fell into my lap. Both are great, in their own way.
It’s important to note upfront that as I look over this list, the thing I’m struck most by is how very little I am responsible for. That is, while all of these things are either achievements to be proud of or events and memories I’ll cherish, I can’t really take credit for any of them.
You see, every item on this was the result of either leveraging a connection, or simply being gifted with an opportunity. And those connections and opportunities, as much as I’ve worked for them, belong to you as much as they belong to me.
I have you—all of you—to thank for helping me develop my business to the extent where, in 2011, I’m considered for things I wouldn’t have been in pervious years.
The growth of my business and the growth of my presence are indelibly tied together, which means that every time you link to this blog, or retweet something I’ve written, or like one of my ridiculous Facebook posts, you help me take a step further along the road.
You help me with every thing that I do—just by being part of the Roman Empire.
And so, this list is dedicated to you, and it’s with the utmost humility that I ask you to accept my thanks, and beg that you take credit for whatever small glories have yet or will soon attach themselves to my name. Therefore, when you read this, I ask that you view this not as a list of moments celebrated with braggadocio, but rather as a list of things that are acknowledged to be as much yours as they are mine.
Without all of you and your support, I wouldn’t be where I am, and I would have no shot at getting to where I’d like to be.
I should mention that these things aren’t listed in any particular order, and I would hazard to say that the list is incomplete. With that in mind, let’s take a quick look at some of the highlights of 2011, and the #RomanEmpireExpansion.
It’s fitting that I should start here, because, after all, writing kick-ass programs is how I make a good part of my living.
I very intentionally say “we” here, because, as it happens, all of my programs were partnerships of some kind. Final Phase Fat Loss is a partnership with Joel Marionz, at least during the launch—I created the product and he helps with the marketing.
Finally, the breakout program of the year (at least from my view) is the Super Hero Workout, which I co-authored with Matt McGorry.
All of these programs were successful in every regard: not only did they sell well, but more importantly, they’ve all received rave reviews and have helped people hit their goals.
It’s hard to really think about which is the biggest success, because that depends on your qualifier. However, if I had to choose one, it would the Super Hero Workout—if only because it was entirely a labor of love. Although the workouts weren’t something I’d been using for years (as in FPFL), I got to unite two of my loves: training and nerdery.
In terms of training, I finally got to address muscle building, and was also able to design a program based on progression and periodization. That was awesome. More personally, the comic book aspect of the program made it one of the most fun things I’ve ever worked on; truly, I enjoyed every part of creating it, from writing the workouts to selecting a comic book font that was just right.
Again, the most important thing is the outpouring of support I’ve received, and the emails talking about results and thanking me. So, to thank you, I’m running a super sneaky sale on Super Hero.
So sneaky you can’t even see it. If you go to the page, the price will be listed at 87. HOWEVER, when you click add to cart, the price will be 47 bones. It’s like a sneaky Easter egg trick in a video game.
And, the only way to know about it is to read this blog. So, just my little way of thanking you for reading and being awesome.
If you don’t have it, now’s the time to pick it up.
Speaking of Super Heroes, this is a cool little highlight from 2011. Because of the success and attention SHW got, I became known as the super hero trainer. Okay, not really. I became known as the trainer who probably knows the most about comic books because I was (am) a big nerd.
Which is basically the same thing.
Anyway, Men’s Fitness asked me to look over Batman’s workout and critique it. Yes, the real Batman’s workout. Which makes me his trainer.
Here’s the deal: a book called The Batman Files was released earlier this year. The book is almost like Bruce Wayne’s scrapbook; it begins with drawings by young Bruce and continues through his war on crime. It’s filled with newspaper clippings, crime scene photos, schematics, and Batman’s notes—including those on his workouts.
That’s where I come in. I was asked to review the workouts on behalf of MF. I should note that this book is published by DC Comics, so, depending on which Batman storyline you follow, this is actual canon.
That having been said, the workouts were written by someone who doesn’t really understand physiology as it applies to training, and thinks that having an iron will is enough to become super human.
Here’s a look at the workout:
This workout is ridiculous. On his “off” days he’s running 20 miles at an elite level. I tore the workout apart, because personally I don’t think it’s possible for a mortal man, even one who has all the money and steroids* in the world. Most importantly, this type of training just doesn’t leave him any time for actual crime fighting. Personally, I think if he reduces the volume by half and the frequency by two days, it’s a better fit.
So, take it from Batman’s personal trainer: don’t try the workout at home.
If you’ll forgive me for a mini-rant, I believe the draw of Batman is that he IS a normal guy, at least at his core. Batman makes us think that you don’t need to be born with super powers, or be a mutant, or even get bit by a spider—he does all of the amazing things he does while limited by his humanity.
Batman embodies possibility. We’re all drawn to him, in a certain morbid way. To use one of my favorites quotes from author Neal Stephenson, Batman makes us feel, “that under the right set of circumstances, [we] could be the baddest motherfucker alive.”
We’d all like to think that if we had billions of dollars and our parents were gunned down, we’d train our whole lives and be like Batman. However, we understand we’d still have limits—or else we’d want to be Superman.
That’s what makes him appealing, and it’s sticking to that realism that makes Christopher Nolan’s interpretation so compelling. And, by the way, Nolan agrees with me so much that Batman’s ailing physical form with be a plot point in the Dark Knight Rises. The movie takes place 8 years into the future, where a “less physically fit” Bruce Wayne is pushed to his breaking point by Bane.
At least that’s what it felt like. As you know, writing is the larger part of my passion for what I do. I’ve always said that writing is one of the more satisfying forms of masturbation, and I believe that. I also believe that in a lot of ways, you can make a comparison between writing and sex: it’s always exciting to (ahem) break new ground.
To that end, one my focuses this year has been breaking into new publications, instead of just writing more articles for places I’m already established. Oh, of course, I wrote a few great articles for T-Nation and the like, but recently I’ve been aiming elsewhere.
This year, I had a series of 15-minute workouts published in Men’s Fitness, was interviewed about sleep for Men’s Health, wrote a piece on digital publishing for Speaker Magazine, and even popped up in Fast Company talking about fitness trends. This is all supremely gratifying, because it implies that the perception of my expertise is growing beyond fitness, and now encompasses aspects of business, marketing, and even publishing. It’s really incredible.
One of the biggest developments has been a partnership with AskMen.com—I am writing for these guys about three times per month, exposing me a whole new (and very large) audience. The best part is, AskMen allows me to re-purpose some of my old content, which means that I can give great info that I’ve written over the past two years and use it, rather than just let it sit on the back burner. (I’m sure there’s another joke about sex there, but I am taking the high ground on this one.)
I’m breaking out of fitness and into more mainstream media outlets, as well. In addition to Fast Company, I’m currently working on a piece with Details magazine.
It’s funny how life works. One of my New Year’s Resolutions in 2010 was to have some TV appearances in 2011.
I’ve detailed each of these appearances in their own posts, but suffice it to say that they were both fun experiences. I’m looking forward to more like this, and will be pursuing a lot this year.
As a complete aside, since we’re on the subject of TV, I was actually called by the production company that handles the Biggest Loser, sometime in March of last year. They asked me to submit a tape, and we went through a few rounds. As I understand it, I was in the final running to replace Jillian Michaels, but at the last minute they chose Anna Kournikova.
I know, what a cliché move right? Dumping the busty brunette for a hot blonde right before the big dance? Jeeze, I felt like they ruined my prom.
Okay, not really. I understand the direction they went in, even if it didn’t work out. The point is that some of the previous TV exposure created an opportunity, and it was cool to be considered.
While I am not on the Biggest Loser, I do have big plans for TV, so I’ll keep you posted.
While we’re on the subject of exposure, let’s talk about this ridiculous experience.
Yeah, I was on a billboard. In Times Square of all places. Check it.
This happened because of YOU. You and your votes, that is. Here’s how it happened: a start-up called About.me was purchased by AOL, and in order to bring some media attention for the company, they decided to purchase ad space on a digital billboard in the heart of Times Square.
So, to fill the billboard they held a contest to determine what profiles we be featured. Long story short, you voted for me, and I was in the top ten.
I cannot tell you the surreal feeling of walking through and seeing myself up there.
Fun story: way back when I first started fitness modeling, I remember telling a few of my friends how some of my shoots went. We were 21 and this was at a poker game at my buddy Mike’s house. Some guys were supportive, and others…well, not.
I got a lot of “oh, that’s gay!” and some “don’t quit your day job” type stuff. Mike, in particular, was not supportive.
My ego retaliated with a bold claim of, “oh yeah? Fine, haters. But one day I’ll be rockin’ a billboard in Times Square and you’ll all dying to play the Eric to my Vince. I will happy receive your apologies.”
Or something like that.
It’s crazy that such a moment has come and gone. Of course, I thought it would be a paid gig for some underwear company, but I’ll take it. As it happens, Mike and I no longer speak (he had a negative energy, as you may have imagined), but I’m still very open to the apology…hater.
Anyway, I have to thank a few people:
Jason Lengstorf, my web designer, who put the profile together in a way that I couldn’t have.
Diana Levine, an incredible NY based photographer who took the picture I wound up using in the profile (and some I used in magazines).
Heidi Vance and the About.me team. Heidi was my contact and a pleasure to work with; she really outdid herself organizing the event.
Thanks to those people and everyone else for the help on that one.
This is sort of like “Trainer of the Month” but “spotlight trainer” sounds less like a centerfold (to my great disappointment).
Sean Hyson, the fitness editor and Chief Bad-ass at Men’s Fitness was gracious enough to inform me that I’d been selected for this honor while we were at dinner together, and stuffing ourselves full of fried chicken and waffles at Southern Hospitality.
It’s a very cool accolade, and affirms that in addition to a piercing gaze and an uncanny ability to network, I also know what I’m talking about.
Unless he selected me simply because I bought him fired chicken and waffles. In which case it’s a ringing argument for cronyism.
Either way, it was awesome, and I got to share three of my best overall fitness/lifestyle tips. Here’s a picture.
Those are pretty good tips, so write ’em down or something.
Officially, that is.
In 2011, John Romaniello was honored to be included on a list of people who like talking about themselves in the third person.
Wait, that isn’t correct.
It was a list of the Top 100 Most Influential People in Health and Fitness (which has a lot of capital letters so, clearly, is very important). Compiled by health start-up Greatist.com, this list includes people like Craig Ballantyne, who is awesome, and Jillian Michaels, who is not.
The point is, this is a very solid assemblage of talent and I’m happy to be included, despite the fact that I will have to murder some of my best friends in order to get to the top of the list.
For those keeping score at home, I came in at number 45; so, if I may paraphrase the great philosopher 50 Cent, that means there are 44 motherfuckas who better watch they back, fool. I think 50 Cent said that. He may have also said something about magic sticks, but I forget.
Once again, I wrote an entire blog post on this.
However, it was a truly interesting experience, and certainly one of the highlights of 2011. I got to meet some really interesting people (shout-out to Mark and Camille), as well as become exposed to a culture radically different from my own.
Unfortunately, Tim and his girlfriend fell ill, and a chunk of the trip involved caring for them when it seemed certain that if the microbial infection didn’t kill them, the hospital would.
That said, it was good overall. And, I got to spend quite a bit of time with Tim, which led discussions about everything from Dungeons and Dragons to Intermittent Fasting.
Leading us to…
Speaking of Tim Ferriss, I’m being featured in his new book, the 4 Hour Chef. But that’s not until next year, and we’re talking this year.
Well, his Holiday Teaser app for iPad (and Kindle Fire) features me as well. More to the point, it features my Intermittent Fasting synthesis as well as some of my workouts, including video me working through a barbell complex. It also features a bunch of tasty recipes for everything from mashed cauliflower (better than it sounds) and tequila hot chocolate (every bit as good as it sounds).
The best part, I think, is that Tim opens by discussion a rant of mine about Dungeons & Dragons.
Tim is a stand-up guy and this book going to be pretty huge, so being featured in both the book and the app is really awesome. It’s going to bring me some more exposure, which, in combination with a number of other projects, will create even more opportunities.
Since I’ve become known for Intermittent Fasting of late, I suggest you download the app. Plus, it’s free. (Note: I’ll be releasing my entire IF protocol in an ebook within the next few weeks. If you don’t want to spend $700 on an iPad, you can grab it for less than 1/10th that soon.)
Which reminds me…
This was sort of a surprise. However, I have spent over a year now experimenting with just about every form of intermittent fasting available (article coming soon), and word gets around. Still, it was a shock that I had such a tremendous response to my blog.
I’m truly looking forward to releasing that program, because I know you’ll get a lot out of it, and it’ll bring my theories out into one place.
Keep in mind, I didn’t “invent” IF. I didn’t popularize it, either. It simply crossed my desk and I’ve gotten into it; I don’t take credit for anything other than my own synthesis. Then again, no one invented “not eating” – and it’s ridiculous that people argue about which style of not eating is the most effective. The fact that I think it’s ridiculous may be one of the reasons that I’ve become more known for it, simply because I am not beholden to any one “style.”
I’m generally not dogmatic, so I feel that, when it comes to a subject that draws strong reaction *cough Tim Tebow on the Paleo diet training crossfit while driving an electric car and using artificial sweeteners cough cough*, a more moderate voice tends to be appealing. Or, as one of my Facebook readers it, “you’re not an asshole about it.” Awww, you sweet-talker, you!
Whatever the case, I’m really looking forward to talking more about IF in the coming months, and even more so to helping the new people IF is bringing into the Empire—which is actually a lot. In point of fact, “intermittent fasting” is now the number one search term that brings people to my blog, ranking above my own name. This is not surprising, as I am ranked number one on the Big G for that term.
So, keep an eye out for LOTS of intermittent fasting stuff in the very near future.
I mentioned in a previous blog that I was going to branch out from digital publishing and write a print book. Not just any print book—a best-seller.
Bold words, but I’m confident in them. The first step is complete: I’ve written a kick ass book proposal with my co-author, Adam Bornstein. Roughly 45 pages of epic epicness, we poured some extra awesome sauce on it with the help of our literary agent, Scott Hoffman, of Folio.
As you might imagine, I can’t currently talk too much about it. However, I can tell you that the book is geared towards men (don’t worry ladies, there will be a second book for you), and the thrust is using various training and diet methods to maximize every aspect of your life, starting with fitness.
We start shopping it around during the second week of January, so fully expect some updates.
My clients absolutely killed it in 2011. It was incredible how many people had truly astounding results.
Clients like Andrew Edwards went from lean to leaner, getting from 17% body fat to 8% while getting stronger. Skeptic turned evangelist Colin Wilson lost just about 60 pounds, getting to 9.9% body fat without losing any of his impressive strength. Dudes like Gary V; despite the fact that our schedules sometimes forced us to take entire months off from training, he has made incredible progress—the guy can now bang out pull-ups and chin-ups for multiple sets of 10.
Ladies like Mel Caporn and Jen Graham saw their abs—impressive for a woman of any age, but both of these women are in their 40s.
Then there are guys like Claudio Espinoza—guys how have radically changed their lives along with their physiques. Guys, like Claudio, who have become very dear friends in the process. And of course, there are newer clients like Daniel Ketchell and Matt Somero; clients who are making strides in their physique who went out of their way to send very thoughtful Christmas gifts.
I can’t possibly mention everyone, but please know that I love you all, and that I’ve read every single email and smiled at your results. Helping you has been the great honor of my life, and I can’t wait to continue in 2012.
There were SO many more that I’d love to write about: taking business coaching clients; being asked to speak at events; getting invited to watch Jets games in the ultra-VIP Green Room at the Meadowlands; coming up with new product ideas every week.
Unfortunately, you don’t have the time to read much more, as this post has gone on way longer than it should have.
I just want to say again that I truly appreciate you all, and that I recognize how instrumental you are in the above achievements, both great and small.
Thank you for your support, and I look forward to helping you in 2012.