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WHEN RASHID "ROC" SHABAZZ ISN'T PUNISHING his body in the gym for an upcoming contest, he takes great joy in punishing others—one rep at a time. Like many pro bodybuilders, Roc also works as a personal trainer, catering to the physique needs of a jam-packed client roster at The Gym of Buckhead in Atlanta. He barks orders, demands improvement and imposes strict accountability. He is, quite literally, everything you could ever need in a personal trainer. But here's the thing—he doesn't want you to need him.
That may seem counterintuitive for a man trying to make a living in fitness, but Roc genuinely wants his clients' workouts to be smart and their diets to be sharp long after they've paid up their last sessions. His passion for changing lives through fitness is evident in every word he speaks, even if some recall an indignant Jimmy Dugan from A League of Their Own: "It's supposed to be hard. If it wasn't hard, everyone would do it. The hard is what makes it great." Although Roc has competed for years in bodybuilding, arguably the world's most self-absorbed sport, he doesn't let it define him. For Roc, it's a daily education in sweat that he uses for more altruistic purposes—so that others may be healthy.
His physique reflects the years of astute training and dietary discipline that helped him earn his IFBB pro card in 2004, but Roc is also an educated entrepreneur. The Atlanta resident, who was raised in Mississippi, earned a degree in business (with a minor in marketing) from Jackson State University before embarking on his bodybuilding career, and now he's putting it to good use. Along with his wife Gina, Roc runs FitnessPro2000, which offers services from training to diet to contest prep. Although they work with all bodytypes, Roc has helped a few women reach the pro fitness ranks and serves as the off-season fitness czar for several current pro athletes as well as nowretired NFL great Shannon Sharpe.
"The first thing I do during a consultation is let clients know that when they train with me, it has to be a lifestyle," says Roc, 37. "This is something that they need to take over and maintain."
To those who would seek to remove physical education programs from schools, watch out—Roc is coming after you. Overwhelmed by the growing epidemic of child obesity in the United States, Roc and Gina have decided to do something about it.
"Nowadays, schools are cutting P.E. programs, and meanwhile kids are on cell phones, playing video games or on the computer after school," he says.
"They're not going to the park or exercising. So we're trying to get them to be more active after school, then [address] those other things."
To this end, Roc established a nonprofit branch of his company called FitnessPro2000 Fights Obesity. Working on a base of donations, he and a team of trainers will inject themselves into schools in the southeast where P.E. classes have been cut. "We have to do something about this," he says. Even when he's working booths signing pictures—a time most bodybuilders use to pay the bills—Roc is flying pro bono, dishing out autographed 8x10s for the low price of 10 push-ups. His generosity and desire to help others seem hardwired into his mainframe, but he has been inspired in that arena by his mentor, eight-time Mr. Olympia Lee Haney.
Roc, who drove to Atlanta on an impulse to seek out Lee after college in 1991, could just as easily been handed a restraining order. Once in town, Roc walked up to Lee at his gym and told him he had moved there to meet him and become a bodybuilder. No doubt floored by the audacity and determination of the 130-something-pound kid pleading for his guidance, Lee gave Roc his first gym job on blind faith.
"When Lee Haney gave me a job and a chance to learn from him without even knowing who I was, the humanity of that just blew me away," Roc says. "Lee set the standard and opened my eyes to how other people could see me. He helped shape me as a man."
The world of fitness is a better place with guys like Roc in it—even if he doesn't want you to need him. M&F