An imposing lifestyle11.10.2007
Discipline, optimism and an understated but fierce competitive fire drove Vasco to win the last Ironman Classic Men?s Open Light Heavyweight bodybuilding ...
NEW YORK MILLS ? The traits it has taken to sculpt the prize-winning muscles that shape Matt Vasco are the same that have helped sculpt the path of his life.
Discipline, optimism and an understated but fierce competitive fire drove Vasco to win the last Ironman Classic Men?s Open Light Heavyweight bodybuilding crown on June 2 at Henninger High School in Syracuse.
Those things also kept him focused while living in the projects of Newark, N.J. after his father was imprisoned.
?It kept me on the straight and narrow,? Vasco said. ?I credit bodybuilding for 90-to-95 percent of my getting out.?
Vasco was unable to train a couple years ago after completely ripping his triceps muscle from the bone during a workout. He had previously finished second in the competition, and swore to his diabetes-stricken daughter that he?d bring home a trophy.
?For 18 months I prepared everyday,? Vasco said. ?When I finally won, that was pretty rewarding.?
For the three weeks leading up to the competition Vasco consumed only three things: whitefish, brown rice and water. When telling the story he repeats whitefish, brown rice and water several times to mimic the redundancy of the diet.
?You have to be totally committed to this sport,? Vasco said. ?Bodybuilding is unique in itself because it?s a lifestyle.?
He moved to the area from New Jersey after being stationed at Griffiss Air Force Base in Rome in the 1980s. From there, he worked at the Fitness Mill and recently opened his own training business called Empowerment Squared. He?s quick to point out the squared means the dedication both he and his clients engage in together.
?I believe in walking the walk,? Vasco said. ?I like to lead by example.?
At 49 years old, he takes pride in the fact that he could win a regional competition against bodybuilders much younger than himself. He claims performance-enhancing drugs are prevalent in the sport, but claims to never have used them himself. Interestingly, he shows little contempt for those that do.
?That?s why I?m still around,? Vasco said. ?I?m going to be 50 years-old and I?m in the best shape of my life. That?s the unfortunate things about any kind of drugs. If you?ve been using them all your life, eventually it?s going to take its toll.?
He plans to compete nationally next year in July. He?s already training for that and plans to compete in the masters division.
?I know if you train harder and eat smarter, you can hold your own against these guys,? Vasco said.
He has no plans on retiring any time soon, reasserting the point that it?s a lifestyle. Not bodybuilding would be a lifestyle change. However, there?s a large part of him that likes to get on the stage and pose for the judges.
?That?s the greatest thrill. The actual competition,? Vasco said. ?Everything else is great too, but I have to fulfill that competitive edge.?
As to how he will do on the national stage ... he has no idea. He can only control his own progress.
?I?m really competing against myself,? Vasco said. ?I seek to improve every time I take the stage. I only have control over one person.?