By Perry Lefko
Jay Zuccato is an international professional fitness model who has graced the pages of many prominent magazines, including a multiple-page spread in the latest issue of Inside Fitness, but even a buff-stuff guy can benefit from a good cardio-based strength and conditioning workout.
Jay attended the Saturday morning Battle Arts Academy class led by Steven J. Wong, and found full value in the two-hour workout.
Zuccato, a 22-year-old Hamilton native who moved to Etobicoke a month ago to enroll in the Bachelor of Commerce/Marketing Program at Humber College, had met Steven at the Toronto Pro Show Expo in the summer. Battle Arts, which opened in September, is owned by Steven, professional wrestler Anthony Carelli (Santino Marella) and Terry Frendo, who owns Inside Fitness Magazine. Jay is an athlete with Optimum Nutrition, which sponsors his career that he began four years ago, and brought along some pre-workout and post-workout samples for the Saturday morning class. It came in handy for everyone, including Jay.
“I came this morning ready to work out, wasn’t exactly too sure what we’d be doing, but it ended up being amazing,” he said afterward. “That was the hardest workout I’ve had in a couple years, it feels like. “I still feel like I’m going to throw up,” Jay added with a laugh. Not that it’s a bad thing. It’s the body’s way of shutting down when it’s completely spent. Basically, the body is sending a message to work on your cardio.
Even though he is in great shape, Jay discovered something that a growing number of people have experienced in the class: It is challenging, no matter how fit you are. Jay will work out one to two hours a day depending on whether or not he’s preparing for a photo shoot. He’ll walk at least an hour or two a day – to the gym/school/public transit) – for cardio work in addition to weight training.
“Today was a completely different type of training from I usually do, that’s why it hit me so hard I guess,” he said. “It was definitely a change. I used to kick box a lot. I was a competitive kick boxer, so I trained similar to this, but that was when I was 16. I focus on doing a specific hypertrophy-based weight training program. My goal while working out is to emphasize the time under tension technique to help promote muscle growth, sometimes combined with high-intensity interval training cardio (HIIT) sessions one or two times a week. Conditioning sessions like today are definitely not what I’m used to, but it was amazing. I want to do it every week if I can.
“Today was awesome. I think it would help my physique a lot. The shock and change to my body was definitely a positive one. Mobility and flexibility are definitely things I need to work on, especially for training sessions like this. It was definitely a positive experience to come here and learn things I didn’t know that might have been a weakness of mine.”
The various exercises aimed at building up the core and improving cardio can leave even the most fit people huffing and puffing following two hours because of the emphasis on function over form. There is basically no weight lifting.
“It was an awesome workout, definitely some different things,” Jay said. “Climbing the ropes to the ceiling was different than my usual weight-training session in the gym. Yeah, definitely a hard workout.”
As a rep for Optimum, Jay promotes the company in Ontario with fellow athlete Setanta Carroll. They do demonstrations at North American fitness and health trade shows and events, including the Toronto Pro Show, Canadian Fitness and Wellness Show (Canfitpro), CHFA Trade Show and the Arnold Sports Festival.
“I’ve taken Optimum Nutrition Products since I started out when I was 16,” Jay said. “It was really my dream when I started out in the fitness industry to represent ON because I’ve always taken their supplements, so how better can it get than to promote the products and help me get to where I am today? Luckily they believed in me and thought I was a good fit, so I got really lucky. I’m hoping my degree in marketing can help to better promote Optimum Nutrition and myself in the fitness industry.”
I wondered if somebody can make a living off of being a fitness model. Everyone knows about Trish Status, the Canadian fitness model who gravitated into pro wrestling and became one of the original divas with her drive, determination and athleticism.
“You definitely can make a living off of (being a fitness model), but you have to be smart,” Jay said. “There’s a select few people in the industry who really understand the business and know how to make a good living off of it. It’s like any job: there are people starting out not making much money and the guys at the top doing really well. There’s a lot of guys I look up to and hope to get to their level down the road.”
He credits Arthur Kwiatkowski, the owner/photographer of Arsenik Studios, with helping him to accentuate the angles of his body when posing to market himself for magazines and understanding the business in general. He is represented by Plutino Group Models in Toronto.
And now he is part of the Steven J. Wong “FitFam”.
Perry Lefko is an award-winning journalist and best-selling author living in Mississauga. He has worked in the media for more than 30 years, including 21 for the Toronto Sun, in which he was a runnerup twice for the Dunlop Award for outstanding sports writing in the Sun Media Newspaper chain, and voted writer of the year by the Ontario Curling Association. He has also had articles published in The Toronto Star, Trot Magazine and is currently a frequently contributor to Goodlife Mississauga Magazine and Goodlife Brampton Magazine. He is also a contributor to Sportsnet.ca. He writes about sports, health and fitness, business, entertainment, arts and politics. He has had seven books published, including two that were national bestsellers: Sandra Schmirler, The Queen of Curling; and Bret Hart: The Best There Is, The Best There Was, The Best There Ever Will Be. He has also written books about Doug Flutie, Michael (Pinball) Clemons and Sandy Hawley. He has been contracted by Penguin Publishing to help broadcaster/athlete Colleen Jones write her life story. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.