1999 Southwest Naturals
Men's Lightweight Open winner Robbie Garcia
Adapted from Garcia's web site
Rob Garcia was born and raised in the Panama Canal Zone, and that fact seems to automatically raise questions about his native region.
"People always ask me what it's like in Panama and what it was like growing up in the Canal Zone. I graduated from Balboa High School in Panama in 1993, and graduated from Southwest Texas State University in December of 1997 with a degree in Exercise and Sports Science and a minor in Health and Wellness Promotion. I go back to Panama about twice a year," Garcia stated.
"I lived on the banks of the Panama Canal in the former Canal Zone and my dad works for the Panama Canal Commission," Garcia explained. "I love Panama life!! I also love to listen to all kinds of music. Some of my favorite bands are the Counting Crows, Dave Mathews, Oasis and Matchbox 20. I also like harder stuff including Metallica, Pantera and White Zombie.
"If I could make life real simple, I think I'd just eat, sleep and work out!" he added.
Garcia considers himself a dedicated bodybuilder.
"I work out at the SMAC in San Marcos, which is a hardcore bodybuilder/powerlifter gym. Bubby Warren is my trainer there. It is also the home of first class fitness competitors such as Lisa Graham. I am also competitive in the sport. I competed in the NPC Southwest Natural in July of '97 in Ft. Worth, and placed third in my first competition. I was disappointed with my finish at the SW Natural and was determined to do better," Garcia said.
"After the SW Natural (1997) I took about a month off from precontest dieting. I decided to compete in the Lackland Classic in November of 1997. I dieted for about 2 1/2 months, increased my cardio workouts and drastically changed my physique from the SW Natural four months earlier. I took first in my weight class as a middleweight and won the overall championship."
In 1998 Garcia competed in the middleweight open class at the Southwest Natural once again and placed second to Prince Fontenot, 1997 Middleweight Team Universe winner.
"I was very pleased with my physique and have improved it from each show with a harder and more cut look," Garcia explained. "My look has changed dramatically since the SW Natural in 1997."
Garcia says people always ask what inspired me to take up bodybuilding and to keep at it for so long.
"In a way I think that it was a desire I was born with. As a young kid growing up I was very active playing sports like football, baseball, tennis and paddling through the canal in the cayuco race. At a very young age I was fascinated with big muscles and was willing to do whatever it took to get them. I looked up to people like Arnold and read everything I could about him," he explained.
"I flipped through magazines and knew that that's what I wanted to be. I started out with my Weider weight bench and worked out at home during my early days. Later I made it to the local gyms around Panama as my training advanced. After I graduated from high school my athletic career ended as I entered college. I loved playing sports but had always wanted to take up serious weight training.
"I moved to the states to start college in Tyler, Texas, in the fall of 1994, and after working out for years at the gyms in Panama, I was finally able to join a 'real gym' with a hardcore atmosphere of powerlifters and bodybuilders...People started asking me if I competed in bodybuilding and encouraged me to do so. I felt that I needed a few more years of serious training to put on a lot more size before I'd think about entering a contest. After I finished at Tyler I transferred to Southwest and found SMAC, which is a gym with the same attitude as Caldwell's in Tyler, and I have continued my training here."
Garcia built his impressive physique through hard work and dieting, and takes a dim view of those who use "unnatural" means to build their bodies.
"Throughout the years I've been around people in the gym who use 'n' abuse steroids, and is a topic that always comes up in bodybuilding," Garcia stated. "Some of these guys look like freaks and others I'd never have guessed it. I bodybuild for no one other than myself, and the part about bodybuilding which I'd like to show people is that you can achieve a lot of freaky size and strength naturally!!
"Unfortunately, because of the actions of others and misconceptions and beliefs of people, I'll occasionally be accused of 'juicing.' It's just an excuse that people like to make when they see someone with great muscle size. If it's not that it's something else."
Competitive bodybuilding is much different from everyday training, according to Garcia.
"It's something that you must want to do more than anything else for no one other than yourself. It is a lifestyle. Everything you do from eating, sleeping, and training ultimately affects your physique. It requires an extreme amount of discipline, and I've learned that there's nothing harder than the pre-contest diet! The result of months and years of preparation of dieting and training pay off when you hit the state knowing that you look your best!!"
Garcia competed in the NPC Texas State Championships in 1998, winning the men's open middleweight class in that event. He also won the open lightweight and open overall at the South Texas competition in 1998.
Edited by Joe Lobell