First off, we want to thank you for giving up some time in your busy schedule to do this interview for us. For those people who don’t know you, can you shed some light on your personal background and let us know what got you into fitness?
My name is Michael Catanzaro. I am married with 3 children. I work as a CFO for a mid-sized property management company in NYC. I have been an athlete almost my entire life. Having grown up playing Football, Basketball, and Lacrosse. I played Football on the NCAA Division 1AA (known now as FCS) level at St. John’s University. As a result of my athletic background, personal fitness has always been at the forefront of my lifestyle. More recently, around April 2015, I took an even bigger interest in my personal fitness regiment. Leading into April 2015, I had a 7 year stretch in which I was heavily consumed by my career. I was so focused on getting to the top position in my field that I had very little time for my family, and for keeping up a solid fitness regiment.
After football was over in 2002 (the program was cancelled in my Junior year of college), I continued to stay focused on being fit. I was working out six days a week until around 2009. Then I started to fall off. I went through some major health issues at the end of 2009 that changed my view on life. I had a rupture in a pocket of my small intestines. While recovering from that, I developed a DVT in my thigh which ultimately lead to a Pulmonary Embolism(PE). At the time, I was very lucky to have survived the PE. Then about a month later I suffered a collapsed lung which was caused by the left over blood clot residue that built up in my chest cavity. After healing from all of this in January of 2010, I decided that it was more important to focus on getting ahead in life while I was still breathing. Instead of doing what most would do and focusing on my health, I started to focus more on work. I got married in 2011 and continued to climb the corporate ladder.
Fast forward back to April 2015, my wife had recently given birth to our second child and she was taking on a new approach to her diet. This is when I scaled back my hours(slightly) at work and recommitted to my own personal health and fitness. Having been out of the gym and not keeping up with my diet, I was weighing in at 255 pounds. So I started going to the gym everyday before work. I started eating better and more healthy. I lost 35 pounds between April 2015 and July 2015. And I haven’t looked back since. Now, I am still hitting the gym every day I want to show my wife and kids that anything is possible. I want to show people that you can juggle being a father to 3, work for a living (sometimes 60 hours a week), and still crush personal fitness goals. I want to inspire those around me.
Do you train at home or in a gym, and do you feel that one is better than the other?
I train at the gym. Although, I do mix in some riding on my mountain bike for extra cardio and leg sessions. I definitely feel better being in the gym and seeing what others are doing to achieve their goals. I find that it’s better to be surrounded by others in a gym, when I am looking for motivation.
Do you prefer to train with a partner, or do you get a better workout when you’re alone?
This depends on what I am doing. Most of my life I trained with a partner because I was training with a team. Now, I do a lot of solo training. It’s hard to keep a consistent workout partner when you work out at 5am everyday. I do find that I train slightly harder when training with someone. Its competition.
What type of diet do you follow, and does it change during the summer and winter seasons?
Currently I am following a vegan diet. No meat and no dairy. I do so while doing a 16 hour intermittent fast. I eat all my food between 12-8 pm every day. This hasn’t been challenging so far. I haven’t seen a dip in strength with the lower protein intake. But I will see how this progresses. It hasn’t been long. I’ve only been at it for 2 weeks. Prior to this I was doing an intermittent fast while eating meat and dairy. It was another hybrid diet. I incorporated the 21 day fix diet plan (measuring portions and limiting calorie intake). Tons of chicken with vegetables (as much as I wanted as they are almost calorie free), fruits, and grains. I try to stick to watching what I eat all year round. I don’t look at life in seasons, or being ready for the beach. I want to live for as long as possible and that starts with your diet.
What is your current age, weight and height?
I am 36 years old. I am 6’ 2” and weigh roughly 220 pounds.
What is your ideal weight, and how far off are you from that goal?
I used to think that 205 pounds would be my ideal weight. However, now I see that I’m trimming to a point where 215-220 pounds is probably an ideal weight for me. I’m cutting the fat, and adding the muscle.
What do you think of the BGM Fitness Apparel?
BGM Fitness Apparel is very cool. I love to wear it because it feels like I’m part of the team when I do. It has a natural organic type of growth to the line, where it feels like I’m out there promoting the line while working out in the gym. The style is very much something that I’m more than comfortable working out in.
Describe your current workout schedule?
I work out Monday-Friday at 5/530am at the gym. I isolate body parts by the days. Monday and Thursday is Chest and Back. Tuesday and Friday is Shoulders and Arms. Wednesday is leg day.
I’m trying something different on Saturdays and Sundays at the moment. I am going to Fit Body Boot Camp. These days are almost full body workouts. We can be performing 300 push ups, 250 Pull ups, 200 sit ups, 150 up downs, etc… It is a variation. Keeps the muscle guessing. If I’m not doing this on Saturday and Sunday then I perform another leg day on Saturdays.
What was one of your most memorable PR moments in the gym?
I think I have to go back into the vault for this one. In college we were always tested with our workouts while i played football. My personal best were 28 reps of 225 pounds on the Bench Press. 425 Bench press max, and we constantly competed on the leg press (called the sled). I can’t recall 100 percent, but I believe I got up to 1300 pounds on the leg press.
Do you use any supplements before, during, or after you train?
I take a pre-workout drink prior to training and that is it. For about 2 years I was drinking a protein shake and pre workout drink prior to workouts. Then following workouts I would drink a post workout drink with a protein shake. I stopped doing that when I started to diet using the intermittent fasting plan. I have seen no difference in my strength or muscle development since scaling back.
When it comes to fitness, where do you see yourself 5 or 10 years down the road?
I see myself continuing to get stronger and leaner over the next five years. My goal is to be in better shape at 41 than I was at 29. I look at guys like Jim Stoppani, Dwayne Johnson, and Mike O’Hearn who are all in their mid 40s and looking better than they did at 30. That’s my inspiration.
What is the best advice you could give someone looking to get into weight training, or fitness in general?
Leave your pride at the door. Don’t come into the gym for the first time worrying about how you look while benching the bar with no weights. Working out is like any sport, it requires tons of practice and hard work. If you commit to it and have discipline, than you will succeed. Don’t think that training by itself is going to change the way you feel and look. You must focus on your diet. It’s like an 80/20 split. 80 percent diet and 20 percent training.
Outside of the gym, what other hobbies or interests do you have?
I enjoy my time with my family. I come from a large Sicilian family. Family is everything. After that I still like to compete on the basketball court, football field, and golf course. I also enjoy snowmobiling.
What motto do you live by?
Work hard, stay committed, and good things will come to you.