By Rachel Debling
Photo Of Jay Zuccato By Arsenik Studios Inc.
Those with years of experience behind them, both in the gym and in the general sense of the phrase, will often lament that the youth of today have it too easy. “In my day, we had to make our own programs, not find them on the Instagram!” “When I first started lifting, all we had were our bodies and our will to survive.” “CrossFit? We used to call that Tuesday.” With each generation it seems that its predecessors will believe that, no matter the topic in question, what the new wave is doing is, undoubtedly, 100-per cent wrong.
It’s hard to apply that logic to Jay Zuccato. Though only 24 years of age, he possesses a clichéd degree of levelheadedness not often associated with his relative newness to the fitness scene. Already a well-respected athlete in his own right (he takes sincere pride in recommending the products of his sponsors, Cellucor and Fuel Foods, to whomever will listen), he has appeared in numerous training articles both in IFM’s pages and in other fitness publications around the world. The best part: he’s wholeheartedly candid, and it’s apparent that he is as passionate about teaching others what he has learned over the years as he is improving his one-rep max.
And pearls of wisdom? Even though he hasn’t yet reached the quarter-century mark, he’s got them in spades.
Lesson 1: You Can Never Start Too Young
The weight room was a sanctuary for Jay in high school and when he first started college. While his peers were finding increasingly dangerous ways to spend their extracurricular time, in training he found a “positive outlet, instead of getting into trouble.” His shift to the healthy side brought with it both an improved figure (dropping nearly 50 pounds and packing on muscle mass in the process) and an improved focus and drive toward his educational pursuits. “Without gym class, I would not be where I am today,” he says.
Lesson 2: You Have To Pay It Forward
Jay recognizes the value of his position in the public eye and uses it for good, not evil. Mentoring high school students and spreading the word about clean eating and training dirty is a beloved pastime. “Not only is exercise a positive outlet for kids to stay out of trouble, it also builds self confidence and work ethic.”
Lesson 3: Social Media Isn’t A Game
Posting pictures and updating his status isn’t just a game for Jay — it’s a part of an overall strategy to help boost and maintain his fitness career. Strategizing who he aligns himself with online and what he represents in his personal pics goes a long way to helping him catch the eye of those he may want to network with.
Lesson 4: Changes Don’t Happen Overnight
When he first started on his personal transformation, he gave himself 12 weeks and decided to cut one bad habit each week (booze and sugary sauces were the first to go). “Take things one day at a time” is the tried-and-tested mantra that Jay sticks to and recommends to others — easier to follow, and much more effective in the long run.