Jim Cordova is nationally known in the competitive bodybuilding and fitness world, yet he tries to keep a low profile. Even while gracing covers of muscle magazines and posing for supplement advertisements, Cordova spends much of his time in the weight room at Babylon Village gym , training clients from beginners to competitive-level lifters, and pursuing his own personal physique creation goals.
Which, for a winner of amateur world championships and a two-time Mr. Universe and Mr. America, doesn't leave a whole lot of room for improvement. But you won't exactly catch Cordova anywhere besides the heavy machinery.
"Cardio is a waste of time," he asserts. "Most people who come here and jump around in a class, that's fine, but they're not going to transform their bodies. I have clients come to me and make more drastic changes in a few months, lifting heavy weights, than they do for years doing the same old thing."
The Fort Meyers Florida native, who now lives in Babylon, started out weight training for what he describes as "the same reasons any teenager does," but gradually became more dedicated, becoming a certified trainer, entering amateur contests, and eventually becoming professional.
You can't miss Cordova at the gym: he's the guy loading the leg press with 400 pounds, but Cordova says he enters all drug-tested competitions and is proud of being a natural bodybuilder.
He isn't afraid to be blunt in the best interests of his clients. As a full-time certified trainer, he tries to impart his belief that weight training is "the best form of exercise there is. It burns the most calories, especially if you do circuit training."
As for the benefits of hiring a personal trainer, Cordova naturally thinks they are essential. A promotional blurb on his Facebook page reads: "I am also one of the best trainers and sports nutritionists that you will ever meet, specializing in the competitive end." His website features his own sculpted form as a marketing strategy, a hint that with the right information, your body is a malleable canvas.
His own training takes a surprisingly moderate time commitment. He says he trains anywhere from three to five days per week, logging in workouts of 25 to 90 minutes.
"It's about shocking your muscles. Most people I see in the weight room don't train intensely enough, or they don't work through the full range of motion on each exercise. I see a lot of people doing too few reps (repetitions of an exercise) on legs, and they haven't even begun to fully hit the muscle."
Common excuses used by those who omit intense lifting as part of their fitness regimes don't faze Cordova.
"Women will not bulk up. Men have hundreds of times more testosterone and we still have to try really hard to get bigger."
Pressed for time? Cordova recommends quick circuit training, where you do blocks of two or three exercises with little to no rest, and then move on to the next block, completing a full body workout in less time.
"Weight training is what's going to change your appearance, reduce the effects of aging. I tell people to stop reading magazines, stop searching for the magic formula. There is none: just hard work, rather than just going through the motions."