By: Joe “Cartright” Cardoso
This week we shine the spotlight on founder of Skullz And Barbells Ryan Blakeley. He is a coach and competitor and helps athletes get ready for bodybuilding contests through nutrition and training. With us both being from the DMV (DC, Maryland and Virginia) area of course we hit it off without a hitch, and talked about his background and thoughts on the healthy living movement. If you are considering getting into Fit Fam and need a support system I would give Ryan and his team a strong look. We take a look at the man underneath the hoody and headphones.
JC: How excited are you to return to competitions and what led to the comeback?
RB: OH MY GOD! EXCITED? Excited is an understatement. I am beyond words on how stoked I am to get back on stage. When I really sit down and think about it, or when I take a break after a set in the gym and just watch everyone training around me and think to myself “Man, I’m doing this!” – I could tear up, honestly. That is how excited I am.
As far as what led to the comeback – I haven’t competed since August 2009, so it’s been a while – however I never lost touch with the sport. I took some time off due to some shoulder injuries and some overseas deployments for a new job I took in 2010. Once I relocated to the DMV (DC, Va, Md) and I started my team (skullz and barbells™), I started going to more and more shows – because it was extremely important for me to go and be backstage with my athletes. EVERY SINGLE TIME I set foot backstage with them I would get this overwhelming feeling of excitement and adrenaline…I just love the sport that much and it made me want to step back on stage so bad, but I knew it wasn’t time yet. It’s all about timing to me. On top of that – my athletes ask me constantly “Coach, when are you getting back up there, huh?” lol and then you have all of my friends / gym crew that constantly ask me the same thing. It just makes you want to even more. Now that I have the team established and things are starting to fall into place – it’s time ☺
JC: Skullz and Barbels, what is it all about?
RB: LOL! Ok, so Skullz and Barbells kinda goes like this – 1) I have a skull fetish and have since I was a little kid. Halloween has always been my favorite Holiday and skulls were (for some reason) my favorite part of the holiday. I also LOVE sugar skulls and the whole Dia De Los Muertos theme and history – so there is the skull. Now as far as barbells goes – duh…we need a gym theme ☺ So when I was thinking of names literally Skullz and Barbells just came to me immediately.
Then I had to design the logo. Hmmm…Let’s not talk about the first one. But we can definitely talk about the final product. The skull has been explained above, and the barbell just fit in the mouth, so there’s that. Now the hoody and the headphones, that’s just the icing on the cake. I wear my hoody religiously in the gym, everyday, and I like to wear my hood up and when I do – my headphones always go on the outside, never under lol – So there ya have it – The title and the logo ☺
JC: How has fitness changed since you got into it?
RB: Man, Fitness has change SO MUCH since I got into it. I don’t even know where to start. I will say I feel like fitness has become a fad. Maybe due to social media, I don’t know. However – I feel like it its become more of a money maker than a true passion – I’ll leave it right there. It’s a little disheartening to discuss. But I am in this sport for one simple reason – to motivate and inspire others by doing the one thing I love that’s near and dear to my heart, and, if I can touch one person here and there, I am happy.
JC: What’s your background and how did it get you into body building and training?
RB: Everyone always asks me my background. Hmmm…where to start. Lol Ok, so I graduated from the Citadel, The Military College of South Carolina in 2003. I was a Police Officer immediately upon graduating college from 2003-2010, where I spent 6 plus years on SWAT and spent 2010-2016 working contract work with the U.S State Department, where I did Private Security Work overseas for VIPs, Diplomats, and Ambassadors as well as some Personnel Tracking and Locating projects. So as you can tell all of my previous employments have required physical fitness.
When I was a Police Officer I needed some type of completive sport to play for my extracurricular time. I fell into bodybuilding randomly at the gym through some of the regular competitors. Bodybuilding just fit my schedule – I could train whenever I needed / could which worked out perfectly. With my SWAT / Patrol schedule I wasn’t able to make regular “practice” with a team so being able to train when I could on my own was major key. So BOOM – I became a bodybuilder lol Then I just feel in love with the sport and the whole process.
JC: What’s on the workout playlist these days?
RB: OH MAN! Well – it’s a mix. Lately I have been listening to Kevin Gates and techno remixes. I always have some Lil Wayne too, I love that dude. And when things get crazy I will throw on some Punk Rock – mostly Pennywise.
My number one “go to” song though – is “Can’t Be Touched” by Roy Jones. As long as there is a good beat and I’m feeling the tunes – I’ll play it. I LOVE LOVE LOVE my music lol –It’s a must in the gym.
JC: Diet is a major part of getting and staying fit how should a person trying to get in shape start off?
RB: Easy – Get a coach! It’s that easy. People complain that it is expensive, but I always tell them this – “It may be pricey, but reaching your goal the right way is priceless!” Plus – you can spend weeks, months, and even years doing the wrong thing and going nowhere – think about how pricey that is? People are willing to spend so much money on supplements that they DON’T need, but not willing to spend the money on a coach that they DO need – it’s crazy to me. Honestly- it blows my mind. So yes – the answer is GET A COACH!
BUT – do your research. Pick a coach you have researched and KNOW for a fact they are beneficial to you and your goals. There is a difference between spending money on a coach and wasting money on a coach. ☺
Even a Coach needs a Coach! I am a contest prep coach and even I sought out a coach for my 2017 comeback. I signed up with Shaun Standridge from Wycked Aesthetics out of Scottsdale, Arizona for this one. If you don’t know him – check him out on IG – @wycked_shaun – I have been with him for 6 weeks and already know I made the right decision.
JC: Body builders get judged and put in a box. What’s one thing people “think they know” but don’t have a clue?
RB: Easy – We are normal people. Lol We just love the gym and getting our bodies into a certain type of extreme condition. Yes, it may seem overboard, but we LOVE it. Just like someone loves to party on the weekend, we love to wake up at 6am and kill a training session. We still do normal everyday things. We still have families, friends, jobs, dogs, favorite restaurants, and movies jut like the rest of the world. Don’t be intimidated by us – we are friendly, I promise ☺
JC: Being a DMV guy where is the ONE place you have to eat at on a cheat day and what’s the meal?
RB: Oh wow…ummm…. That is a really tough question. There are so many food choices and restaurants – Being in DC / VA we usually like to go to We The Pizza. They have some of the best pizza around. And – the meal? I always get a large pizza. Half buffalo chicken and half pepperoni. Everyone laughs how basic I am sometimes. Lol Their buffalo chicken pizza is bomb! I am also a fan of the Carving Room in DC – They hook up some of the best platters in the DC area.
JC: Did you play any sports growing up?
RB: I did. The funny part of this question – I never played football. I get asked all the time and the answer is no! lol To be honest I don’t even know the rules or one player / team by name when it comes to that sport.
I played soccer and baseball, but Lacrosse was my favorite. That was the number one sport I couldn’t live without growing up. I even played lacrosse at the Citadel and was nominated All American Honorable Mention my junior year. I still love to throw the ball around and play catch whenever I have a free minute – which doesn’t seem to happen lately.
JC: A cheat day meal consists of? And why?
RB: YES! I do love our Cheat Meals. It’s has actually became such a team tradition on Friday evenings that my apparel company – skullz and barbells™ apparel even has a “Cheat Night” T-shirt. Lol
My cheat night usually always seems to consist of the three same things and for now real reason then for the fact that I grave it –
- Any snack food I am craving that week. Usually Gold fish or Cheddar Chex Mix (So odd – I know lol)
- A whole large Pizza (always pepperoni)
- A pint of Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream (usually Peanut Butter Cup)
Bonus Question –
JC: What do you like to do when you are not working out?
RB:This is a good question. When I am not in the gym I like to do anything fun, anything outdoors, and anything with good company. I have an all matte black beach cruiser that I love to cruise around on and hit up coffee shops from time to time. I can never get enough spending time with my BADASS mom, dad, and little sister out on my parents back deck in Maryland. I love spending time with my amazing group of friends too. I am very fortunate to have such a great group of supportive friends and they are all always down for anything, which makes for some fun adventures. And of course – travel – I do like to travel when I can – as long as where I am going has a gym…HAHA
Can’t forget to mention they have some SICK workout gear on their site as well, perfect for that next workout. With it’s positive vibe and family first mindset Skullz And Barbells will be a force in the industry.
For more info check out Skullzandbarbells.com
Apparel Instagram: Skullzandbarbells_apparel
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