It is easy to get lost in the like-culture and the sharing ethos put forth by the era of documentation brought by social media these days. Even concepts that are elusive and “exclusive” before as fitness has now been relegated to a hashtag that, now within reach down to the everyday man.
“Fitness now has become so mainstream that everyone can do it and it is a good thing, really. And being happy about your progress and showing it in social media is not a bad thing. What I can see as the problem is that the motivation of a guy or a girl to lift that weight or skip that cheat day shifts and gets derailed from its real purpose. It is no longer just to test your limits and improve day by day for fitness and health, it becomes a bragging contest and a quest for likes. A lot of people fall in that category, and at one point, myself included.”
We talked to 28-year-old chef-in-the-making and bodybuilding competition regular, Mark Ed Floro, and talked about the intricacies of his fitness journey.
How did your journey into fitness begin?
I have alwasy been an active kid. I have always been athletic. I played volleyball until high school and my form isn’t something that I paid much attention to.
At 19, naging tamad ako. Di na ako mahilig lumabas at gaya ng lahat ng mga college students, I enjoyed eating out. Pag estudyante ka andyan ang street foods, available lahat sayo. I enjoyed that and I realized I stopped being active. Until I felt na there were changes in my body. I got tired easily and tumaba talaga ako. And then I realized I just wanted to fit again.
At first, I just admired those who had good bodies. Yung mga tipo ni Sam Milby. Gusto ko lang maging ganun. Until nagulat ako na lagpas na pala ako sa goal ko. Di na ako nakukuntento. When I exceed a goal, I set another one that greater than the former. It was different kind of high.
When did you start taking it seriously?
I was 23 when I first set foot in a gym. Before, sa house lang ako talaga with equipment I bought for myself. And then came 2015, I was in my second year in college when I stayed in a condo and then got hooked in the gym. It was my peak talaga. My drive was relentless.
How often do you train?
Unlike before, I now go to the gym four to six times a week. I realized, importante ang ipahinga mo ang katawan mo para makarecover. Kahit pakiramdam mo kaya mo, kapag you push yourself too hard, darating na lang ang oras na mararamdaman mong sobrang pagod na pagod na katawan mo at lupaypay ka. You have to make it a point na makarecover ka.
Who are your fitness influences?
Hands down, Steve Cook and Jeremy Buendia. They are just amazing athletes. The biggest influence I have in my training is my coach Roel Co. Noon nagcompete ako by myself, without anyone guiding me. Andami ko pa palang kelangan malaman and my coach guided me through all of it.
What are your greatest fitness accomplishments?
Before, I only make it until the Top 10. In 2015, I was a Top 10 finalist in the Men’s Physique Small in Shawn Roden Classic. The following year, I was also among the top 10 finalists og the SRC 2016 Men’s Physique Small and Novice categories.
This year, I am proud to finish in the Top 3 Fitness Model Open Division for ANB Universe International and Top 4 in the ANB Universe International Fitness Model Category, Ages 25-35 Division.
What’s the hardest part of keeping yourself in top form?
Diet is the hardest part. It is mentally challenging. Sometimes, kahit na joke sya, masakit kapag may kumakain sa harap mo when you are under competition preparation. Di nila alam yung level ng sacrifice. Mahirap din kasi magastos. You really have to want it and commit para makita mo ang investment mo sa katawan mo.
The misconception about us who are “gym rats” is also tough to debunk. A lot of people would just say, “Yan lang naman ang alam nilang gawin.” But they do not understand the science behind it. It’s not just something you do for the sake of it.
What’s the biggest learning bodybuilding has given you?
That there’s a science to it. And that your drive will bring you where you want to go. It takes a lot of discipline to achieve your goal. And it is not enough to just want it, you have to live for it.
Most importantly, natuto ako to compete with and for myself, not against others. Competitive kasi ako. Nuon, I competed para talunin ang ibang tao. And when I didn’t win, di ko natanggap ng maayos. Ilang araw akong nagmukmok at tahimik. Now, I’ve learned na totoong you are only as good as your last performance, dapat you aim to continuously surpass your last achievement. That way, di mo iisipin na kalaban mo ang iba kundi ang sarili mo lang.
What’s your ultimate fitness goal?
Ang ultimate goal ko, honestly, is to prove to people na kayang maachieve ang ganitong state ng fitness ng all natural. Noon, I feel offended kapag sinasabihan nilang di ako natural. Now, I see it as a sign, na I am doing the right thing. It shows. They just don’t want to accept it.
Produced by Leo Balante
Video by Josh Ke
Photo and video shot by Calvin Cardenas
Shot on location at the Gym Rat Fitness Center