In a circa 2021 health panorama filled with limitless burpees, boot camps, and reside streaming cardio, Rashid Shabazz, also called “Roc,” is sticking with bodybuilding because the go-to coaching methodology at his suburban Atlanta health club, Roc Health.
A former IFBB professional bodybuilder, Shabazz’s affinity for hypertrophy-style exercises isn’t simply nostalgia or affirmation bias. No, he’s prescribing “bodybuilding for the lots” as a result of it really works. Full cease.
It labored within the Sixties and ‘70s in bodybuilding’s “Golden Age.” It labored within the ‘80s and ‘90s when Lee Haney (Shabazz’s mentor) and Dorian Yates dominated the game. It labored within the early 2000s, when Shabazz gained his professional card as a light-heavyweight on the NPC Nationals (2004) and went onto a good IFBB profession, highlighted by two Mr. Olympia appearances (2008 and 2010). And it’s been working ever since along with his private coaching shoppers of all shapes, sizes, and expertise ranges — from highschool athletes to busy mothers to Shabazz’s most well-known shopper, NBA Corridor-of-Famer and Olympia Weekend Ambassador Shaquille O’Neal.
“I nonetheless pay homage to my bodybuilding roots, and I’ve gotten most people to not solely purchase into this fashion of coaching, however get nice outcomes from it,” says Shabazz, whose celeb shopper résumé additionally contains NFL legends Ray Lewis and Shannon Sharpe. “Relying on how lengthy we do it and the way constant we’re, I do know we will get outcomes and alter the physique, as a result of we we’ve carried out it for thus a few years in bodybuilding.”
Shabazz and his workforce of trainers at Roc Health in Sandy Springs, GA are hellbent on proving that bodybuilding, mixed with neighborhood, remains to be the most effective path to a greater physique. And so they’re placing their cash the place their mouths are with the upcoming Roc the Summer time Problem, a 30-day nationwide transformation contest launching on July 5 — with a grand prize of as much as $5,000, plus different proceeds going to charity through sponsors.
“Quite a lot of the challenges you see today are nearly weight reduction,” says Shabazz. “With the Roc the Summer time Problem, we wish to discover the person who not solely drops essentially the most physique fats, but additionally places on essentially the most lean muscle. We would like folks to eat the proper meals as a substitute of simply ravenous themselves, and to raise weights as a substitute of simply doing cardio, to allow them to construct a physique that they’ll proceed constructing on.”
The Slicing Fringe of Physique Transformation
That phrase — bodybuilding — is off-putting, if not downright scary, to lots of people. Most of us wish to trim down and get leaner, not construct up and pack on measurement, and coaching like a bodybuilder would appear antithetical to this aim.
That’s a misnomer. Bodybuilding-style coaching is efficient for constructing muscle, but it surely’s additionally nice for dropping physique fats, and plenty of it. On the vitamin facet, bodybuilding is all about consuming on your targets, even (and particularly) when that aim is to drop physique fats.
In the end, these eager to shed some pounds (which is a overwhelming majority of the American inhabitants, each women and men) wish to change — to rework — their our bodies. And no athletes on the planet know the way to create one of these change higher than bodybuilders.
Shabazz’s programming at Roc Health is unequivocally bodybuilding, albeit a contemporary model – one that mixes the modern group health mannequin with bodybuilding’s bedrock coaching ideas of train choice, load, quantity, and depth.
Roc Health provides hour-long courses day by day in the course of the week, beginning as early as 5 a.m. A typical class measurement is between 14 and 22, with a number of licensed trainers working the category and offering fixed teaching cues. Exterior of group courses, members can join conventional one-on-one private coaching, both with Shabazz himself or one of many different trainers on his workforce like Aaron or Omar Whavers (Shabazz’s nephews), IFBB Determine Professional Simona Douglas, or NPC Bikini competitor Nikki Raymond.
This class setup might look much like CrossFit and different comparable “purposeful health” gyms, however the exercises are solely totally different. As an alternative of field jumps, rope climbing, and Olympic lifts, Roc’s courses function members doing stations on staple bodybuilding workout routines like lat pulldowns, leg press, and Smith machine incline press — strikes that wouldn’t usually be integrated into a bunch setting.
“That is the innovative,” says Shabazz of his courses, that are provided as each co-ed and men-only teams. “I’ll take two, three, typically 4, of the most effective workout routines for a selected physique half and run folks by a circuit, grouping them collectively primarily based on their body weight and in the event that they’re attempting to construct extra muscle or lose fats. I’ll say, ‘Joe, you and Alex are going to be on the leg extension whereas Sam and John are doing leg curls. End your 5 units, then change workout routines and do 5 units of leg curls.’ Think about that, as a substitute of getting a giant room of individuals leaping up and down doing burpees.”
Coaching is only one piece of the puzzle. Roc Health additionally provides complete dietary steerage, starting from fundamental meals training to full-scale weight-reduction plan plans to meal supply. For the latter, Shabazz has a neighborhood meal prep firm he refers members to, and there’s even a restaurant across the nook from the health club, Chef Rob’s Caribbean Café, that he works straight with to supply wholesome menu gadgets — together with his namesake “The Roc Meal,” which consists of an 8-ounce, low-sodium grilled hen breast with contemporary herbs and crushed black pepper, jasmine rice, and streamed broccoli.
“We do every little thing right here — coaching, meal prep, cardio plan, all of it,” says Shabazz. “I’ve been privileged to do that so a few years that it turned second nature to move that info all the way down to athletes in addition to common folks.”
Strolling the Stroll
Shabazz’s final skilled bodybuilding present was the 2010 Olympia 202 (now the 212 division), wherein he completed a good 11th place months after a formidable 202 win at that yr’s IFBB Phoenix Professional. Throughout his profession, Shabazz was recognized primarily for 2 issues: his shredded, aesthetic physique in addition to his burgeoning private coaching enterprise, already in full swing thanks partially to the cachet of his well-known NFL shoppers like Sharpe and Lewis.
And never a lot has modified since then. He might not be profitable bodybuilding trophies, however he’s coaching others who’re. And he’s nonetheless in nice form: At age 53, he’s a shredded 200 kilos. As for his enterprise, Roc Health is larger than ever, as is the star energy of his celeb shopper roster — specifically, Shaq, who Shabazz nonetheless actively works with as the massive man’s “Chief Health Officer,” together with common appearances on the TNT actuality present Shaq Life.
A life-style and profession immersed in bodybuilding effectively into his 50s was inevitable. “It began a very long time in the past,” says Shabazz, tracing it again to the primary photographs he noticed in bodybuilding magazines within the Eighties of physique stars like Haney and Robby Robinson. “I’ve all the time beloved the way in which coaching made me really feel. However I additionally bought a kick out of taking every little thing I discovered in bodybuilding and instructing it to athletes I knew, like my little brother when he was in highschool taking part in baseball.”
After graduating from Jackson State College with a enterprise diploma, Shabazz held a company job earlier than leaving “to pursue what I needed to do for a residing, and that was bodybuilding,” he says. “I didn’t understand how I used to be going to really pay my payments or feed myself or something like that, however I knew that’s what I needed to do. And I used to be lucky sufficient to have the ability to parlay that over to an amazing profession, one thing I loved doing and the place I’m making a distinction. For me, it’s actually enjoyable taking a median individual and serving to her or him do extraordinary issues.”
Extraordinary issues can imply something from a middle-aged girl hitting a weight-loss aim to an elite athlete ending his profession with a Tremendous Bowl ring (Ray Lewis in 2013 with the Ravens) to a 30-something taking a health passion to the aggressive physique stage. Considered one of Shabazz’s present pupils is his enterprise associate and former abroad skilled basketball participant Ronnie Cropper, who’s presently coaching for the newbie Olympia Males’s Physique.
“After I ended taking part in basketball, I continued to have a robust want to compete,” says the 37-year-old Cropper. “After I determined to take my private health to a different stage, I sought out Roc and his 30-plus years of expertise within the bodybuilding world. He’s helped me create a extra focus-driven health routine, which is in the end main me to my aim of switching to a brand new sport and competing on a number of the largest levels in males’s physique and bodybuilding.”
The Subsequent Evolution of Health
With each aggressive and enterprise success underneath his belt, Shabazz’s eye is on the longer term — the “4th quarter” of his working life, as he places it. “Be legendary, go away a legacy. That’s what I’m attempting to do proper now,” he says.
A part of that entails working to maintain the health business on the proper path, which Shabazz believes must be influenced by each the present digital age in addition to the prior period of the ‘90s and early 2000s. For the youthful era, the tendency is to maneuver every little thing on-line, to make coaching extra digital. However in doing so, you lose human contact. You lose neighborhood.
“Factor is, even with this pandemic and the protocol I laid out at my health club with carrying masks and all that, you’ll’ve thought there’s no manner I’d have over 100 shoppers in right here — however we have now,” says Shabazz, who’s fast to share credit score along with his ex-wife and enterprise associate Gina Alexander for the success of Roc Health. “We naturally wish to work together with different human beings. You’ll be able to put an individual on the pc all you need, do simulations, and preserve them on the home, however they’ll nonetheless wish to discover a method to work together with one other individual.”
As for the coaching, Shabazz hopes the youthful period will recognize how he and his counterparts approached the health club throughout their heydays.
“The people who got here earlier than me, they bought huge and minimize on fundamental barbells and dumbbells,” he says. “My era had just a few extra toys, with the newer machines and all that, however I nonetheless paid homage to guys like Lee Haney by coaching old style. Proper now, every little thing’s within the digital age and is within the fingers of the youthful era. Hopefully they’ll take a little bit of old style and sprinkle it with the brand new college and make an enormous distinction. As a result of in the event that they cancel out their heritage and what we did earlier than them, our period goes to be utterly misplaced.”
Get Able to ‘Roc’
First issues first. As an alternative of obsessing concerning the distant future, Shabazz is laser-focused on his upcoming Roc the Summer time Problem. He’s not doing it alone, although. His Roc Health workforce — together with Alexander, trainers Aaron and Omar Whavers and Shaneese Bailey — are equally dedicated. Most essential are the “lots,” the hundreds of people who hopefully will tackle the problem and alter their our bodies and lives by bodybuilding.
“I really need this problem to be huge,” says Shabazz. “I would like it to be one thing that individuals stay up for and use not simply to lose some weight, however to placed on some lean muscle. That’s what’s going to maintain the load off — not working all day lengthy, reducing energy, and ravenous your self. For those who placed on somewhat lean muscle and burn somewhat physique fats, every time you do it you’ll get somewhat higher. And also you’ll be capable of preserve that weight off for good.”
The Roc the Summer time Problem is scheduled to start July 5. The problem is open not solely to Roc Health in-person health club members, however anybody coaching at house as effectively.
“You’ll be able to take the problem anyplace,” says Shabazz. “In the end, we’re trying to construct a health neighborhood that may do many issues collectively, together with journeys, cruises, seminars, workshops, networking, and extra.”
For extra info on the way to be a part of the Roc the Summer time Problem and particulars on entry charges, exercise program choices, before-and-after picture necessities, and extra, go to RoctheSummer.com.