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East County Wednesday, Apr. 24, 2019 2 years ago

Picture of Health: Garrett Pope

The Lakewood Ranch resident says prioritizing fitness is a must.
by: Andrew Atkins Staff Writer

Garrett Pope describes his life of fitness as an addiction.

Case in point: On his 21st birthday, he was in a head-on car collision. He took 51 stitches in his head and ear, he said, and needed plastic surgery to reattach his ear to his head. His doctors told him he couldn’t work out for a minimum of four weeks.

Forty-eight hours later, he was back in the gym.

“And yes, I was popping stitches out,” he said. “It was stupid.”

Pope, 45, is a personal trainer and nutritional consultant. He owns his own business: Pope Training and Performance, where he offers private, one-on-one personal training for muscle building, weight loss, rehabilitation, stability work, nutritional and supplementation guidance and more.

Originally from New Jersey, the certified personal trainer has a degree in exercise science from Montclair State University in his home state. The Lakewood Ranch resident said he used to have the strength contract for a number of New York Mets players in the early 2000s.

Pope now primarily focuses on strength training with some high-intensity cardio mixed in. He usually works out for two hours four days a week. As a kid, he played football and baseball and began working out at 15. That’s when he became “addicted.”

“I work out myself, religiously, all the time,” he said.

Pope finds himself motivated by the feelings of well-being and health he gleans from his lifestyle and said he’s been training people for about 25 years now.

“Everybody has aches and pains as you go along, but I see other people my age in pretty bad shape,” he said, noting that his healthy lifestyle has helped him.

The former Mr. Teenage New Jersey — and former Mr. New Jersey, too — said he’s reluctant to share numbers of his heaviest lifts.

“I’m not big on trying to get numbers out there,” he said. “When people try to hit numbers, their form goes to crap.”

Instead, he said, people should focus on lifting what they can comfortably. Lifting a heavy weight 6 to 8 times is better than lifting a “super, super heavy weight” once, he said.

Pope doesn’t seem one for vices: he only has a cheat day once a month. On those days, he enjoys something like pizza or lasagna.

“I just don’t feel the need,” he said. “I eat very bland. So I’m used to it. It doesn’t really affect me.”

Otherwise, he sticks to healthy foods, starting his days with whey and oat protein shakes and eating fruits, vegetables, grilled chicken and fish.

When he’s not working out, Pope spends time with his three dogs. He has a purebred Chihuahua, Pebbles, and two brother Jack Russell/Chihuahua mixes, Bam-Bam and Vader.

“You would never know by looking at them, but they’re little terrors,” he said, laughing. “They hate people. It’s bad.”

But in terms of fitness, the biggest thing for successfully getting into shape is committing to it and prioritizing it, Pope said.

“You have to commit to working out. You have to commit to the diet. … If you don’t make it a priority, it’s never going to stick.”

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