IRON MOUNTAIN — In high school, Evan Geronimi wasn’t all that different from many prep athletes.
Geronimi competed in a few different sports — in his case it was football, basketball and track — and did the accompanying weightlifting and aerobic training that was assigned.
And, after the 2018 graduate of Iron Mountain High School matriculated to Michigan Technological University, Geronimi stayed on the well-trodden path. He adjusted to collegiate-level study, acclimated to living away from home with the accompanying freedoms and lived for the weekend.
But Geronimi quickly tired of that path. Starting in his sophomore year in 2019, Geronimi changed his life habits.
“In my freshman year, I met a group of kids … that are really good friends now and we got together and that’s how we spent our weekends,” the 22-year old said. “But then after that, it didn’t really interest me anymore.”
Then one day, cliched as it sounds, Geronimi looked in the mirror and didn’t like what he saw. He stopped “partying and stuff like that” and made a decision to transform his lifestyle. He began to learn about the importance of proper diet, rest and stress management and began weight-training in earnest.
He had decided to become a bodybuilder.
“It was really me diving into Google and YouTube and forums like bodybuilding.com and websites like that,” said Geronimi, who is about to begin his fifth and final year at Tech en route to earning a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering. “Stuff that really interested me more than just going in (the gym) and lifting as heavy as I could.
“My freshman year I was just in the gym, in and out, and then my sophomore year was when I really put it all together. I started eating right and sleeping right, and that’s what really pushed me into, just a goal. And bodybuilding just seemed like the best fit for me.”
The decision to make such a change and the reality of doing so are a gulf apart. But Geronimi adapted to the strict regimen of weighing foods, eating the proper amounts of protein, carbs and fat and extensive weight-training and exercise.
Geronimi said his daily diet now consists of about 2,900 calories, which includes 210 grams of protein, 350 grams of carbohydrates and 98 grams of fat.
He said that weighing his food – an extreme exercise in patience for many — has become second nature to him.
“It’s become weird for me not to weigh food now.”
Geronomi said he limits his sugar intake to about 40 grams per day, only occasionally giving himself a treat like French toast with dark chocolate on top.
An example of his diet includes a breakfast wrap with egg whites and vegetables, a lunch of rice combined with lean beef or turkey, a pre-workout snack of a wrap with vegetables, a post-workout snack of rice cake, oatmeal or cream or rice with protein powder and fruit and then a final meal of a “really big” salad with vegetables and meats.
He begins each day with an immediate intake of water to start his metabolism. But to show that Geronimi is still like most of us, he is not above a cup or two of coffee.
“I do that, too,” he said laughing. “Water then coffee.”
But does he miss an evening of burgers and beers?
“Sometimes I miss it, like being able to go out and eat whatever. But then there would be no point in doing any of this.”
Geronimi’s lifestyle change has also given him the opportunity to compete again, this time as a “natural bodybuilder.” Natural because competitors train without using steroids.
Geronimi said initially the temptation to partake in steroid use was strong, but he knew a healthy lifestyle does not include using such substances.
Along with the healthy living habits, Geronimi weight-trains extensively. He trains in the afternoon, after he finishes his course work and classes in the morning. He said he varies between a pull session (back, shoulders and biceps) and a push session (chest, shoulders and triceps).
Geronimi also works on his legs, and then does an arm-specific workout, which also varies by muscle group. He finishes his session with 15-20 minutes on the treadmill, and on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays he adds abdominal training.
Geronimi said the whole workout takes between 2 and 2.5 hours.
If all this sounds a bit obsessive, Geronimi doesn’t argue.
“Very much so,” he said. “But to compete in a show, and if you want to place in a show, you pretty much have to. It consumes a lot of your time.”
Geronimi, who presently weighs around 160 pounds at 5-foot-10, has competed twice now, in the Men’s Physique category. He took second in a small show in Green Bay in 2020 and then won the Novice Class at a bigger event in Minnesota in his second attempt.
Pursuing bodybuilding has also allowed Geronimi an outlet for his competitiveness, which had been in hibernation since high school.
“I think that’s one of the reasons I did it because I didn’t play any sports in college and there wasn’t really anything that I had to compete in. I missed it, and then I fell in love with health and lifting and it kind of just tied in pretty well.”
Now in his fourth year of bodybuilding, Geronimi’s next show is scheduled for April 8, 2023 in Bloomington, Minnesota. His aim is to finish first overall in that show so he can obtain a pro card and move up from amateur status.
“And then hopefully I can take it as far as I can,” he added.
In the meantime, Geronimi’s emphasis on health, training and bodybuilding has already offered many lessons, one of which he has already handed down to his younger brother Ayden and others in high school.
“Don’t mess with drugs (like steroids). I tell my brother never to do that. I had that temptation, too, when I started because you recover a lot better and it helps your muscles get bigger over time. But I focus on my health and that’s just completely the opposite.”
Jerry DeRoche can be reached at 906-774-2772, ext. 247, or at email@example.com.