Still Hitting it Hard

BY LINDA MARX
Alex “A-Rod” Rodriguez reveals his new health-and-fitness regimen and debuts his cool new Miami gym.

Miami fans have followed the talents of Alex “A-Rod” Rodriguez for nearly 25 years. They’ve watched him play baseball and scoured paparazzi photographs to sneak a peek at his private workouts in exercise gyms and on practice playing fields. And even now that he’s no longer in the game, fitness buffs and die-hard fans still love to see how this 6’3”, 230-lb. superstar slugger, who embodies a unique combination of power and speed, creates and implements his daily workouts. They’re curious to learn how the retired New York Yankees star prepared to win three MVP Awards, made the roster of 14 All-Star Games, and hit nearly 700 home runs during his 22-year career. While most Rodriguez followers know he’s always been a fitness fanatic, many want to study the specifics of his regimen and what makes him tick.

They may be surprised to learn that he has been into fitness as a passion and a business for a very long time. About 10 years ago, Rodriguez, now 42 and the father of daughters Natasha, 12, and Ella, 9, partnered with 24 Hour Fitness founder Mark Mastrov to create Alex Rodriguez Energy, a line of fitness centers in Mexico. And now he has brought that expertise to Miami. Rodriguez and Mastrov have just launched UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) Gym in Kendall, the first in a chain of super gyms targeted for different areas of Miami, Fort Lauderdale and other cities. “We have the development rights for creating many more UFC-branded gyms in Miami-Dade and around South Florida,” says the former Yankees third baseman, whose discipline when it comes to exercise and nutrition is second to none. “The gym represents the best in fitness, and we are aggressively looking for more gyms now.”

His UFC Gym is modern and spacious, designed in cool tones of orange and gray. Its mantra is to build a strong foundation using functional fitness: classes aimed at building the best structural foundation for your body to prevent pain and push to your limit—both in the gym and out in real life. Each class is a varied combination of functional movements performed at high intensity, amplifying one’s physical and mental acuity. “Functional fitness encompasses everyday movements,” notes Rodriguez. “We focus on speed, agility, range of motion, core strength and flexibility, varying daily so you never sweat through the same workout twice.”

Any UFC champion could eventually become one of the best-trained jocks in the world. To succeed, these athletes work each day to master multiple martial arts with strength and stamina. Whether it’s a total body blast or work for a specific area, everything is offered. And while disciplines differ, what remains the same is that the person’s determination to get back up and be better tomorrow never wanes.

The slugger’s gym offers a wide range of options from which to choose: boxing conditioning, fight fit, stretching for performance, DUT (daily ultimate training), kickboxing conditioning, TRX (suspension training), MATRIX (weight training), VFC Fit (unique fighting game), Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (martial art and combat sport), self-defense of all types, and the latest gym equipment, from state-of-the-art treadmills to elliptical trainers and bikes from leading brands like Star Trac and Precor.

When Rodriguez was playing baseball under his 10-year, $275 million contract with the Yankees, his workout routine was different from the one he keeps now. He changed his mix on a daily basis. He combined sprinting, baseball drills, and three days of heavy lifting per week, plus 300 daily crunches and 30 minutes on a stationary bike for cardio.

Today, some of the workout remains the same, and he still likes to change it up on a regular basis. “I mix things up,” explains Rodriguez, who gets rigorous at least five days a week. “I like to do diverse lifting and bike-ride regularly.”

He also participates in boot camp classes both in Miami and in Las Vegas, where he is an investor and equity partner in TruFusion, part of another growing fitness franchise that could eventually include as many as 20 centers. He favors yoga, Pilates and kettlebell classes in Las Vegas, where he works with a group in what by his own description is a “community atmosphere.” Some days he spends as long as three hours at the fitness center rotating his exercise to get a well rounded workout.

Sound crazy? Well, Rodriguez is living a new life, and he is not afraid to tackle new things. He likes the idea of learning constantly about different ways to workout and keep fit. And he’s not ashamed to admit that there are areas he doesn’t know. “I am disciplined, and I learn from my mistakes,” he says. “I feel like I am always learning.”

Since he began dating Jennifer Lopez—no fitness slouch herself—he has continued his penchant for mixing things up when he breaks a sweat. They often exercise as a unit. “Jennifer and I like to work out together,” he says. “She’s a great athlete. We enjoy taking classes together and riding bikes.”

According to published reports, trainer David Kirsch said Rodriguez and Lopez like to do sit-ups with medicine balls, partner pushups and 15 repetitions of reverse crunches and planks with dumbbell row and tricep extensions. Whether she kicks his ass during workouts remains to be seen, but he admires her discipline, which mirrors his in many arenas, especially in the world of exercise and fitness.

Rodriguez has always been smitten with women who stay fit and maintain regular exercise and nutrition regimens. It’s pretty much a prerequisite for him before getting involved in a relationship. (He reportedly met his former wife, Cynthia Scurtis, in a gym, and since their 2008 divorce, they have remained solid friends in a very successful co-parenting program.)

Born in New York City, Rodriguez eventually moved to the Dominican Republic, where he played baseball before making his MLB debut with the Seattle Mariners at age 18; he has always maintained a strict diet. “I call it a healthy diet,” he says of his high-protein plan, which includes clean, organic food. For breakfast, he likes about six egg whites with oatmeal to start his day on the right track. For the rest of his meals, he goes for foods like chicken breast, turkey, fish, steak, brown rice, leafy greens and plain steamed vegetables like spinach and asparagus. “I like to have some kind of plain vegetable every night for dinner,” he says. He stays away from butter, sugar, flour and oil. He rarely, if ever, cheats in these areas. “I am not a dessert or sugar person, but I do like salt,” he admits, copping to a weakness for Cheetos, chips, popcorn and even chewing gum.

He has his own recipe for baked kale chips, and during his past training seasons has been known to bring healthy prepared food into tony restaurants. Using a cooler to be sure he would never be compelled to eat anything unhealthy which would take away from his ability to excel in baseball, there was rarely a time when Rodriguez did not eat healthy meals. Now, when he feels low on energy, he will still grab a sweet potato—even if he eats only half.

Today, Rodriguez is happy and leading a well-rounded life. He spends time with his daughters and other family members in Miami, and sees Lopez in different cities and countries around the world. He likes to host parties (especially during Art Basel in December) and collect art, which is displayed in his 11,000-square-foot, indoor-outdoor Coral Gables home. His style today exemplifies pure and healthy living, all while he keeps extremely busy. He recently signed on as an MLB analyst with Fox Sports and as a frequent contributor to different divisions of ABC News, which is expanding his role from sports to other areas of current events and popular culture.

And for those times that he longs to be back on the baseball field, he can meander over to the Alex Rodriguez Park at Mark Light Field in Coral Gables, which is home to the University of Miami Hurricanes baseball team. After his generous $3.9 million gift a few years back, the college was able to renovate the park and make it state-of-the-art for student athletes and fans.

In short, Rodriguez, the athlete and fitness buff, totally personifies the winning mentality and the motto of his challenging UFC Gym: “Ordinary fitness no longer exists.”

 

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