Staff Writer

It just seemed like a good idea at the time,” said J.R. Pinto, who teaches in the Department of Literature, Languages, Writing and Philosophy at Fairleigh Dickinson University’s Florham Campus. Pinto made his bodybuilding debut at the American Natural Bodybuilding Federation (ANBF) Jersey Shore Natural Pro/Am Competition on Sept. 27.

Pinto’s journey began when a fellow member of his gym suggested that he consider the sport. He began training and dieting on his own, but eventually started working with his coach, Vinny Galanti, who is a retired champion bodybuilder. Galanti, from Mahwah, N.J., still actively power-lifts and coaches professional and amateur bodybuilders.

Photo by Chris Lorenc, courtesy of J.R. Pinto
FDU Professor J.R. Pinto competes in the American Natural Bodybuilding Federation
Jersey Shore Natural Pro/Am competition on Sept. 27 at Brick Memorial High School.

The competition Pinto attended was held at Brick Memorial High School in Brick, N.J.

According to the official ANBF website, the competition was 100 percent drug tested, which required all competitors to pass a polygraph (lie detector) test with specific questions pertaining to personal Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) use. Urine tests were also conducted at random to test for HRT and performance-enhancing drugs.

Pinto said that he was quite nervous for his first competition, knowing his coach could not be there to support him.

But as soon as he stepped on stage, Pinto was pleased to find his best friend of many years, his former student Chris Lorenc, and several of his fraternity brothers from Alpha Kappa Lambda (AKL), all sitting in the audience waiting to cheer him on.

It was not long before images of the Pinto in his competition attire appeared on social media. Jeorgi Smith, a current student of Pinto’s and an acting/Quest major at FDU, said she was completely unaware of Pinto’s involvement in the sport until she saw the pictures on Facebook.

“I couldn’t believe it,” said Smith. If anything, Smith said she had a newfound respect for Pinto “to have the kind of edge and ambition to achieve a goal like that.”

Before he could even consider stepping on stage, however, Pinto had a considerable amount of discipline to endure. He followed a strict diet that consisted mostly of chicken, multivitamins, “carb-cycling” and staying far away from the FDU cafeteria.

The real challenge, said Pinto, was cooking the food himself in advance, having it with him at all times and eating more or less the same exact thing every single day. For the sake of time, he would occasionally rely on a protein bar, but he avoided protein powder and protein shakes at all costs.

“The body falls into place when it has all that it needs and nothing that it doesn’t need,” said Pinto.

His workout routine originally consisted of full-body conditioning to get into “shape.” However, leading up to the competition, his routine consisted of an hour of heavy lifting for three days straight, followed by a day of rest and concluding with a concentration on legs for two days per week.

Pinto’s brothers from AKL were also happy to join him at the gym on campus once the school year began.

As a faithful subscriber to Men’s Health magazine, Pinto has often looked to the workout routines and diets of Men’s Health to stay in shape. Pinto said that the workout routines in magazines like Men’s Health are excellent for those looking to get into “conventional shape,” but bodybuilding workouts and diets are incredibly different. He was very surprised to find that cardio was not a priority in his training as a bodybuilder.

For the competition, Pinto also had to undergo two cosmetic changes that were particularly challenging for him, even after all of his training: a whole-body spray tan and a tiny pair of posing trunks.

“Speedos feel like a three-piece suit to me after wearing posing trunks,” said Pinto. “It was mental exercise.”

In terms of the spray tan, the darker the competitor is, the better. The tan allows the judges to see depth and definition that they normally would not be able to see on people with lighter skin tones. Competitors undergo several spray tans before the competition, but are also sprayed, painted and touched up just minutes before they step on stage, said Pinto.

Pinto competed in four different sections within the competition: Men’s Bodybuilding Debut, Men’s Bodybuilding Novice, Men’s Bodybuilding Masters 40+ and Men’s Bodybuilding Open.

Pinto impressed the judges, placing second in Men’s Bodybuilding Masters 40+, third in both the Men’s Bodybuilding Debut and the Men’s Bodybuilding Novice sections, and fifth in Men’s Bodybuilding Open.

Lorenc, a junior musical theater major, said, “It must have been great for him to have such a great first experience. He was nervous, but he wasn’t alone. He had a lot of support.” Lorenc later added that Pinto “was a natural.”

Pinto’s main competition in three of the four events was a newly married man of 27, Enrique Garcia. Pinto was proud to place ahead of Garcia in two of the three events, Men’s Bodybuilding Novice and Men’s Bodybuilding Open, only placing behind Garcia in Men’s Bodybuilding Debut.

Despite his young competition, a 53-year-old “monster” was Pinto’s real inspiration. He said that it was exciting to have a goal and a foreseeable future for himself in this sport.

“I don’t believe in aging,” said Pinto. “I believe we are as old as we choose to be.”

Pinto plans to continue his bodybuilding career and compete again in May 2015.

Until then, he plans to maintain his bodybuilding lifestyle, allowing the occasional snack or drink as a reward for his hard work.
For those who aspire to body build, Pinto recommends learning how to cook, going about training in the most natural way possible, and, above all, loving it.

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