Fitness professional wins six titles in bodybuilding contest – The San Diego Union-Tribune

After a 20-year hiatus from competing in bodybuilding, Ramona resident and fitness professional Peter San Nicolas came back strong to the sport, winning six titles in the recent National Physique Committee Border States Championships.
The National Physique Committee, an amateur organization that attracts top bodybuilders and fitness athletes, held its competition in Mission Valley on Oct. 5. Contestants came from California, Arizona, Nevada and Oregon.
“This was my first competition in 20 years,” said San Nicolas, who owns Ramona Fitness Center. “I decided to come back and compete in the show, and I actually won six titles in this competition.”
Competing in the Open Division for ages 18 and older, San Nicolas won first place in all three of the classes: Open Physique, Open Classic Physique and Open Masters Physique. He also won the overall title in each of those classes, placing him at the top of each class, against 100 contestants.
“It’s never been done before to win three overall titles in one competition,” he said. “I was dumbfounded. You never know who you’re going to compete against. My plan is always to do my best and to try to get in the best condition I can. The judges are looking for muscle size, definition, proportion, symmetry and there’s a performance component consisting of a posing routine.”
Supporting San Nicolas on the sidelines was his wife, Shayna, a nutritional therapy practitioner active in working out, who met Peter while they were students at Olive Peirce Middle School. Shayna was rooting for Peter at the same 1991 National Physique Committee Border States Championships 28 years ago when he was only 13 years old.
Now 41 years old, San Nicolas returned to the sport of bodybuilding five years ago. The break gave him time to raise three children with Shayna — Mikaela, 22, Blake, 14, and Farrah, 12, — as well as to open and run his Ramona Fitness Center business.
“My life’s work and mission is to help people change their lives through fitness and health,” San Nicolas said. “Exercise is the No. 1 antidepressant, anti-anxiety and mood-enhancing activity. It’s not just the body part, but also the mind and spirit. We’re meant to get our heart and lungs pumping, and we’re created to be moving and working human beings, but we have to be deliberate about it.”
Ramona Fitness Center opened in 1989 and San Nicolas bought it in 2001. He became interested in fitness and becoming healthy when he was 11 years old. He said he was looking for a way to release his pent-up energy and frustration as the son of parents who struggled with drugs and alcohol. He said his rough and inconsistent home life played a part in him getting into fights in elementary school that were usually started as a way to defend someone else. His mother bought him a weightlifting set, which he outgrew, so she enrolled him as the youngest member of Ramona Fitness Center.
“They had to kick me out because I didn’t want to leave,” San Nicolas said. “I just loved working out.”
He saw bodybuilders in a fitness magazine and decided he wanted to pursue those types of competitions, so his parents found him a personal trainer. That was Robert Dodson, owner of Gold’s Gym in Pacific Beach at the time, who took San Nicolas under his wing and taught him how to pose, what to eat, and showed him a workout routine that was geared toward building muscles.
During his teenage years, San Nicolas won several Mr. Teenage San Diego contests, a Mr. Teenage Orange County contest, and awards in Amateur Grand Prix and Border States competitions. At age 19, he took third place in the Musclemania World Championships.
San Nicolas became a personal trainer when he was 16 years old and was hired by Ramona Fitness Center Manager James Rice to work behind the counter. San Nicolas worked at the fitness center throughout high school until he graduated from Ramona High School in 1996. All the while he competed in bodybuilding contests from age 13 to 19.
His plan was to become a professional bodybuilder with sponsorship by a division of the ESPN sports channel, but attending college, raising a family and running the gym changed his focus.
The catalyst for returning to bodybuilding five years ago was having neck surgery to repair damaged nerve and muscle tissue from a childhood BMX bike injury.
“It enabled me to rekindle my dream of becoming a bodybuilder,” San Nicolas said. “Now I’m doing what I love.”
San Nicolas also enjoys selling homes as a Realtor for Re/Max Direct in Ramona. He said he’s sold more than 70 homes, primarily in Ramona and Julian during the past five years.
San Nicolas’ next goal is to become a professional bodybuilder. He’s training for the National Physique Committee’s 2019 Masters USA Championships scheduled for Dec. 14 in Los Angeles.
San Nicolas said he will be competing in the age 35 and up class against roughly 200 contestants. He hopes he will become one of the 12 bodybuilders to earn professional status at the event.
During the competitions, contestants pose and are evaluated based on symmetry, proportion and condition. Mandatory poses include front double bicep pose, back double bicep pose, side chest pose and abdominal and quadriceps pose. Contestants are ranked by points and judged on their lowest scores.
San Nicolas said the toughest part of preparing is eating less to lose body fat by reducing caloric intake. He said it takes him several months to reduce his standard body fat of 13 to 14 percent down to 4 to 6 percent body fat.
He hopes to encourage others to step up their fitness levels to become the best they can be.
“It’s never too late to start a fitness program, to chase after your dreams, and to be you only better,” he said. “If you have grass under your feet and air in your lungs, it’s never too late to start.”
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