By: Jacob Elyachar, jakes-take.com
Every so often, I head to YouTube to check out the latest fitness superstars in training.
What I (and a majority of YouTube viewers) prefer are looking at channels that inspire people to get off the couch and encourage them to hit the gym and improve their lives.
One channel that has stuck out to me is Olympus Iron.
Headed up by Rhode Island native Bob Arcand, this movement has caught the attention of thousands of viewers. In addition, several top athletes in the nation including Nick Pinheiro, WBFF Pro Alyssa Agostini, Nick Wright and legendary bodybuilding trainer Steve Reeves have joined forces with Bob to continue to promote Olympus Iron’s brand of positivity and inspiration to multiple generations of athletes.
In this edition of A Conversation, Bob talked about Olympus Iron’s mission, the challenges that he faces as an athlete and his upcoming first bodybuilding competition.
Jacob Elyachar: When did you get interested in fitness?
Bob Arcand: I have always been very interested in fitness. While I have been a martial artist for about 12 years, I did not get interested in the gym. That changed when my brother asked our parents for a gym membership. He always told me: “It would be a great accessory to your martial arts. Come with me.” I told him that my girlfriend (at the time) did not want me to do it. But, I turned to the gym, when we broke up after being together for three years.
JE: How did you turn your love for the gym into bodybuilding?
BA: At first, I went to the gym because I was single. I wanted to get shredded and have six-pack abs…. but I never had aspirations to go on stage. However, once I became shredded, cut and weighed 185 lbs., I thought I would bulk to put on some size and lift heavier weights.
Things started to change when I met Olympus Iron co-founder Nick Pinheiro. He is an experienced national bodybuilder that brought me into the bodybuilder lifestyle. We became lifting partners and best friends and through training with him, I realize that being on stage is not for your ego; it is how far you can push your body.
JE: What is Olympus Iron’s mission?
RA: Our mission is to make the fitness world entertaining, powerful and fun. We also wanted to be open with the public. A lot of times, bodybuilders hide their lives or feel that they are being judged unfairly. When I first meet my clients at my day job, I surprise them. They were expecting a small guy wearing glasses. I come in with my meals and I always carry a gallon of water everywhere I go. I want to basically tell people I body build and I want to be the guy that responds to my viewers…no matter how big I get.
I have already gotten the nickname “The Legendary Responder” because I respond to everybody. If it is a legit question, I want to be able to reach as many people as I can. When I was the District Manager of GNC, I absolutely loved helping people. However, when I left GNC to become an accountant, I found that there was something missing. I talked to Nick about it and he told me: “You are not helping people anymore.” I asked: “How can I help people?” Nick, who is a huge fan of YouTube fitness channels, told me: “Let’s make a YouTube channel.”
The channel is not only a way to help people, but it is also a way to help us with our form and critiquing ourselves with our respective transformations. Both my form and physique has changed so much since I started the channel. When you are filming for thousands of views, you cannot afford to give them either the wrong information or the wrong form. My viewers look up to me and I can easily lose them by giving them the wrong information.
At first, the channel was a way to help people. Now, it has grown so much that it is more inspiring to me that my viewers respond to what I say and can ask me anything.
JE: One of Olympus Iron’s unique features is that athletes have partnered with your site. How did you approach them?
BA: All those people that are our Olympus Iron athletes are our friends. We consider ourselves to be the fitness Wu-Tang Clan. When I first heard the rap group’s hardcore, raw and inspiring music, I thought Olympus Iron could be like that because all the people I lift with are different. I feature different friends on our videos and viewers always ask: “How big is your friend?” “What are their measurements?” and “How tall is he?” I came up with the idea to put all of their information on baseball cards. If they wanted to learn about Nick, there is a picture of him, all of his stats and his short biography. I would not be where I am without all those people.
JE: Let’s talk about your videos. What are some of the challenges that you face in making them? How do your overcome them?
BA: Staying relevant is a big challenge. The YouTube Fitness community is so different from anything else. For example, I do not know why a lot of my viewers like seeing videos of me eating! Another YouTube channel that has grown with me, Maxx Chewning, has videos of him eating for an entire day have made him successful. I just cannot relate to it.
I also do not realize how much help my viewers need. When I need to, I step back and think of a video idea. Once I have an idea, I ask myself: “What are the main points I need to make during this video?” “Do these people care?” and “When I was starting out, did I need to know this information?” I have made mistakes before and when I was not happy with the video, I consider it a disservice to the viewers that respect my videos.
Making videos is always about confidence and constantly putting myself in the shoes of my viewers. At times, they love humorous videos and I feel like a lot of people do not put in the extra effort to add some humor to their videos. You can be as serious as you want, but you need to be able to post a funny video. For example, when I posted my “Help Save Maxx Chewning” video, I parodied the Save the Children Fund. I put the same music back in the background and I stated “with 20 cents a day, you can pay for protein for young Maxx.” It was just funny, because I was interacting with people who know who Maxx Chewing is. Plus, I was providing them with entertainment.
NO ONE WANTS TO BE BORED while watching a YouTube video about triceps…especially if the terms that you are providing them go over their heads. I see YouTube channels doing that to a point, where I do not even know what they are talking about. I talk to my viewers in layman’s terms and make sure that I try to relate what I am talking about to their every day lives.
JE: You will be doing your first bodybuilding competition during the fall of 2014. How are you preparing for this endeavor?
BA: So far, all of my preparation has been mental. It seems so far away but it is not. A lot of times when competitors state: “Oh! I am not dieting until June,” and then they will go crazy with their off-season. I think I went a little crazy during the winter and I skipped my meals every once in a while. But, I made it up through Burger King or going out and drinking occasionally. While I do indulge at times, it keep you from maximizing your gains in your off-season.
Right now, I am making sure that I make that extra time and do that extra cardio session. Cardio is a huge component in many athletes’ off-season and athletes do it to make sure that they do not hold too much body fat. Right now, I am focusing on not going crazy with my calories and I am eating bodybuilder food! No one ever got fat off of chicken, steak, rice or sweet potatoes. I am also making sure that I consume my veggies, healthy carbs and plenty of protein.
Currently, I am at 212 lbs. If I want to be at 180 when I hit the stage this fall, I got to lose 32 lbs. Once I lose that weight, I am not going to be able to hold onto some of the muscle and you are not going to be as conditioned as your competitors. If I want to hit the stage at 192 lbs., I need to cut 20 lbs. in an elongated period of time.
The challenges and obstacles that I am going through right now are just thinking about the show. This show is eight months out and I could just sit pretty and say: “I got plenty of time and have a great physique going!” But at this point right now, I got to clean up my diet, so I am not too fluffy before I have to diet. However, if I wait too long, my coach is going to tell me: “You put on too much body fat!” and “You need to lose 30 lbs.” After I lose those pounds, I would be shredded but not as conditioned as I should be.
JE: How do you keep yourself motivated to tackle the show and other challenges?
BA: I keep all of my goals in mind everyday. I surround myself with motivational quotes and I have a whiteboard attached to my mirror. On it, it has the 2014 Cape Cod Natural Show poster and several other goals such as pass the CPA exam, get my Master’s degree and give back to the community. I also have all my numbers that I want to reach. When I wake up, the white board is right there and it gives me a visual of what I need to do to motivate myself. I also consider this lifestyle to be a privilege. I bring positivity into everything that I do! Whether it is something related to the bodybuilding community or to YouTube.
JE: How has social media helped your career?
BA: While I primarily focus my social media efforts on YouTube, more people through Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are discovering me. When I post something onto my page, it has the potential to reach 3,000 people. When I shared it on YouTube, it has the potential to reach 11,000 people. If I shared it on Instagram, 16,000 people see it! It is not just word-of-mouth at a gym; I have 16,000 mouths talking about my channel and my brand.
I also like to think of it as paying it forward with social media, because I am reaching out to somebody’s needs. If there were viewers that do not know how to properly diet or get in macronutrients, I post my advice on a video. If I got 4,000 views for that video, it means that I helped out 4,000 people improve their diet by adding macronutrients.
However, one of the challenges that I face is with social media (particularly YouTube) is that is very hard to get subscribers organically. There is so much content on the Internet and you have a very minimal chance of being seen. For example, if someone types “bicep workout” on YouTube, there is a very minimal chance that any of my videos will pop up. I do not have that many subscribers in comparison to other fitness channels like Scott Herman Fitness and I do not have that many views. So, it is tough for me to get that many organic views.
In order to boost my viewers, I have reached out to people like Scott Herman, Nick Wright and other YouTube channels about possible collaborations. I approached them and asked if we could get a workout in and we could make a video of it. That is how I met and became good friends with Brandon Campbell. When I went to this year’s Olympia, I met several athletes including Matt Ogus and Chris Lavado for the first time and I was surprised by the fact that they knew what my videos were like. They watched some of my videos that I did with Nick Wright and they subscribed to my channel.
I feel like the collaborations have helped me build relationships inside the YouTube community. It is also how I built my business. It is not always about social media, if you ask anyone on YouTube: “How did you get so many subscribers?” They will never tell you that they did it alone.
JE: Why should my readers look into Olympus Iron?
BA: If your readers are looking for a positive place that is looking for an accepting and non-judgmental place and where they can grow mentally and physically, come to Olympus Iron. I am personally invested in my viewers’ results and I can help them succeed. A lot of people, who are starting their fitness journey at the gym, do not have anyone who can help them. They probably approach the big guy (who is probably juiced out of his mind) stating: “You got to take protein!” That is not useful information and they wasted their time.
I am trying to help people not waste their time. Like I said in the earlier parts of our interview, I was not exposed to that noob lifestyle. However, what helped me was that people who knew about the fitness world surrounded me. I want to help new people coming into the fitness world and I also want to be the gym buddy that you can reference all the time. Jake, I also get so many Facebook messages from locals who want to train with me. I do not ignore them, I tell them my schedule and I don’t care if one person or 15 people wants to train with me, I will train with them!
I have met some really cool people when I run through my workouts with them. I am so inspired by my subscribers, because I think that they do more for me, and then I do for them. Two people drove more than an hour-and-a-half just to have one training session with me. I feel like I still have the genuine attitude and that I do not get starstruck. If you are new to my channel, you are going to get my authentic self and I am going to continue to be real and honest with my viewers.
To learn more about Bob and his Olympus Iron team, visit his website: http://www.olympusiron.com/