By Dan Solomon, Publisher
From Hollywood to the NFL, they’ve migrated to the fitness industry, a place ripe with opportunity. The fitness & bodybuilding world seems to appeal to all shapes and sizes, with varying degrees of celebrity.
The focus of this week’s Industry Spotlight was one the most coveted high school football recruits in the United States…….eventually playing on Saturdays, on national television, in college stadiums packed with 80,000 die-hard fans.
In the late 90’s, at East Lake High School in the Central Florida area, Matt Meinrod was busy dominating his competition (and protecting his quarterback) as a standout offensive linemen. First-Team All-State is noteworthy by any measure, but earning that recognition in Florida is even more impressive given the wealth of talent throughout the state. Meinrod’s rare combination of strength, power and explosiveness was enough to grab the attention of the legendary Bobby Bowden, one of the most respected football coaches in the country.
A journey that started on the football field eventually made its way to the business of bodybuilding and the creation of a website called Project Bodybuilding. But how did Matt Meinrod get from THERE……to HERE?
In search of a reasonable explanation, I caught up with Matt for a Q&A:
Dan: So tell us a little more about your football career….and why you suddenly stopped playing.
Meinrod: I was a Prepstar and SuperPrep Magazine All-American coming out of high school. I had offers from over 30 schools including Georgia, Ohio State, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Boston College….before finally choosing Florida State. I was initially a backup at both guard positions behind future NFL draft picks Montrae Holland and Todd Williams. I became the starter at Offensive Guard in 2003 and I started every game that season. We went 10-3 with 2 losses coming to Miami. In 2003 I earned Honorable Mention on the All-ACC team and the following season I started the first game of the year against Miami. I tore my ACL/MCL/Meniscus when fat turd Santonio Thomas fell on to my right knee!
Prior to that season I won FSU’s annual Strength Index as the team’s Pound-For-Pound strongest player on the team, based on “lifts to body weight ratio”. My top bench was 515lb. Top hang clean was 431lb (school record), and my best squat was 635lb at a bodyweight of 310lb.
Dan: A knee injury that serious must have required a heck of a rehab.
Meinrod: Yeah, I recovered from the knee reconstruction in 4 and a half months, when my doctors had told me it would take 9-12 months. Doctors gave me full clearance to participate in all team activities after just 4 and a half months. I entered the 2005 season once again as the starting guard. I started the first 5 games, but my career ended during the fifth game of the year against Wake Forest. It was Oct 8th 2005 when I dislocated my ankle and broke my fibula, tearing several ligaments in a dog pile for a loose ball. I underwent 2 surgeries to fix the ankle.
Dan: So that was the end of the road? No chance at another recovery?
Meinrod: I still had tryouts in the NFL prior to the 2006 draft, but with the ankle being a much more devastating injury than the ACL, I was considered damaged goods in the eyes of scouts. My favorite accolade at FSU (other than the strength index title) was being named 2-time “King of the Boards” following spring practice. It was our most physical drill at FSU under Coach Bowden and something everyone either loved or hated. The coaches took it very seriously.
Dan: Damn, incredible story. So how did you transition out of football and into the crazy world of bodybuilding?
Meinrod: I was always a big meat head from my football days, but even while doing football training with the team I would sneak into local gyms and hit more traditional bodybuilding workouts. Maybe not the smartest thing from a recovery standpoint, but I loved it. I always followed the sport in high school and I guess you can say I got hooked. I knew I wanted to get in the biz from following Flex, MD, and Rx Muscle. I thought I could do what they were doing and probably better if given the chance. So I got in touch with Aaron Singerman while he was still working in the media with RxMuscle and told him about my skill set and that I was a hard worker and had fresh ideas from a creative standpoint. It was good timing as they were still making a lot of ad revenue and could afford to bring on somebody new with zero name recognition in the business. And from there people started to enjoy my articles and opinions.
Dan: So what led you to starting a website of your own?
Meinrod: Project Bodybuilding started because I was working for Blackstone Labs (a supplement company) and they decided to move away from their media efforts. So that forced my hand as I really didn’t have a role with the company anymore. Aaron (their CEO) and I became great friends and when it was time to move on he told me he wanted to help me any way he could. Having Blackstone Labs as a sponsor to a brand new site was instrumental in helping it get off the ground.
Dan: What’s the concept behind the site?
Meinrod: The vision with Project Bodybuilding was never that of MD or RxMuscle, simply because they were (and still are to some extent) chasing the contest coverage model. I always saw that as a waste of time and money. Instead I wanted to focus on the personalities of the sport via interviews and podcasts and make my forum feel more like a fraternity than a bunch of trolls trying to antagonize all the time. I also wanted to place a lesser emphasis on article writing as people are reading less and less. Video production is important, but only if done right; making podcasting the most affordable and desirable original content on the site. The podcasts are focused very little on bodybuilding and instead on “the life and times of being a bodybuilder” – off topic. But we also offer radio shows that focus on supplements and contest coverage. We have a good mix of contributors in a wide range of ages which really makes the dynamic fun.
Check out ProjectBodybuilding.com and be sure to keep an eye out for Matt Meinrod’s new blog right here at Digital Muscle, the new fitness & bodybuilding media hub and blogosphere….and the home of the upcoming Arnold Classic Webcast!
Related Story: True Grit: Your Success Depends On It! – By Aaron Singerman