Exclusive Interview: San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg

Source: @ron_nirenberg Instagram

Health Fitness Revolution and its founder Samir Becic have created a list of the Top 10 Fittest Mayors 2018. Since 2013, HFR has been creating lists of the fittest politicians in various branches of government in order to motivate Americans to embrace a healthier lifestyle.

After talking with San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg and learning of his fitness routine, Samir nicknamed him “The Gladiator Mayor.”

“Ron Nirenberg is truly one of the physically strongest mayors and politicians in the United States,” Becic said. “His fitness routine can easily be compared with many professional athletes. He is a great advocate of a healthy lifestyle and promotes it constantly to his constituents. San Antonio, your mayor is a winner!”  

Samir Becic: Mayor Nirenberg, I was just reading your biography yesterday, and I am so impressed! With your fitness routines and how fit you are, we are going to put you on the list of the top 10 Fittest U.S. Politicians immediately. With this kind of resume, I have never seen it before.

Mayor Nirenberg: Oh, wow! Well thank you, I am honored.

Samir Becic: Thank you for being so great, and for being a true American hero who is a great example for our children to be healthier and fitter.

Mayor Nirenberg: Well thank you, I am humbled to hear you say that. Truthfully it has just been part of my day for so long and it is something I can’t give up, but it’s certainly important to what we are trying to do for our community.

Samir Becic: We don’t want you to give up, we want you to motivate all the other mayors to be like you.

Mayor Nirenberg: (Laughs) There are a few other things that I have tried to persuade them about, but that will be a fun list for sure!

Samir Becic: I am more than impressed with your background. I am interviewing over 20 mayors in the next three days and your resume is stunning!

Mayor Nirenberg: Fitness is something I take very seriously and I am a firm believer in mind, body, spirit, and balance. The truth of the matter is, being an elected leader, being a mayor of a large city, I spend most of my day from the neck up that I have to have a high-intensity fitness regime to balance myself out and to keep myself sane and happy.

Samir Becic: That is so true, and lots of politicians don’t know how to cope with stress. Am I correct in saying that you are only 41 years old?

Mayor Nirenberg: Yes.

Samir Becic: Do you think your involvement in sports helped you become so successful and goal-oriented as the mayor of one of the largest cities in America?

Mayor Nirenberg: I certainly credit athletics, especially being in individual sports with very little instant gratification that requires a long-term outlook and self-discipline.

Samir Becic: I can clearly see that. I can tell from your body stance that you are an extremely lean man. You’re definitely one of the fittest, not only of all mayors in the country, but you are one of the fittest politicians in the United States period, and probably one of the fittest politicians in the world. What motivates you to be healthy? You mentioned to reduce stress, but what is that internal motivation that you hope to accomplish with a healthy lifestyle?

Mayor Nirenberg: Well I can say this, being fit and being strong allows me to enjoy life better, and I like to eat!

Samir Becic: I understand (laughs).

Mayor Nirenberg: I enjoy having a bigger lifestyle, not being limited by my physicality.  I have been doing anything I want to do, so being fit certainly helps me get the most out of what life has to offer.

Samir Becic: I agree, I’m a big believer in that. And for the last six years my team and I are trying to find the fittest politicians in America to motivate Americans to be healthy and fitter because childhood obesity is rising in America. What would you suggest to our kids or to their parents to do in order to stop childhood obesity and Type 2 diabetes in America?

Mayor Nirenberg: Well I will say that physical fitness and your mental state of mind go hand in hand, and in order for people to truly be happy, they have to be physically active and include the body, mind, and spirit. In fact, I had a dream once, and it still may happen when I am retired, to open a gym and have part of it include physical and mental aspects of learning.

Samir Becic: Mayor, before you retire and open that gym, I would love to have you as a governor or senator because I think you can inspire more people just as you inspire me. Right now in America, corporations are losing billions of dollars in because of unhealthy employees, sick days and non-dynamic environment. As John F. Kennedy said, “Physical fitness is not only one of the most important keys to a healthy body, but it is also the basis of dynamic and creative intellectual activity.” What is your stance on that?

Mayor Nirenberg: I agree wholeheartedly and I believe that in order for one’s brain chemistry to work at its peak, it has to be balanced, and the only way to achieve that is through a properly balanced physical lifestyle.

Samir Becic: Yes I agree with you, and I just finished publishing my book about eight or nine months ago called Resync Your Life, which is about the body, mind, and spirit. It’s about physical fitness, healthy nutrition, mental, social and spiritual balance.

Mayor Nirenberg: I would love to read it.

Samir Becic: I would love to send it to you! So, Mayor, fitness connects people, and fit people can be any race, any religion, and any background. What are you doing in San Antonio to connect people through fitness so that we can break the barriers?

Mayor Nirenberg: We are building a better city and we are connecting fitness opportunities with our infrastructure with things like park development, creek ways, pedestrian access to hiking and bike trails and we are learning how to build our city to where people can exercise and have a healthier lifestyle. The other thing I am doing is good behavior with different program events and in schools. I started a “Get Strong” fitness campaign which was intended to show all the different ways that people can have fun and get fit and adapt to the lifestyle that best suits them. I used to have a fitness consulting business 15 years ago, and my clients would ask me, “What’s the best fitness routine?” I would tell them the best fitness routine for me is the one that you will stick to! And so I want to show different ways people can adopt a healthy lifestyle so they find it convenient.

Samir Becic: Is there anything you could tell us about yourself that the public doesn’t know?

Mayor Nirenberg: Well I actually did some graduate work in bodybuilding. I was not a bodybuilder until I was in graduate school and one of the reasons why I got into it was to study how people’s identities change when they became bodybuilders, and so as an autoethnography, I have a thesis written in bodybuilding. And in 2005, I won the National Texas Cup in powerlifting for my weight class.

Samir Becic: Wow! And how much do you weigh, Mayor, if I may ask?

Mayor Nirenberg: I weigh a little under 200 now and I am lighter than I want to be, but at peak, I was 212.

Samir Becic: Ok that is great. Most people don’t understand how physical fitness impacts the brain. Scientific research has shown that the grey matter in the brain is tremendously improved by working out, and that the left and right brain hemispheres actually communicate much better. Now that I know this and know that you are not only a fitness enthusiast, but you actually have a scientific approach towards the brain, I can talk to you a little bit more about that because I don’t think we have many mayors who can actually do that. How would you correlate physical fitness and the brain and how you choose your balance and balance of stress?

Mayor Nirenberg: They are inextricably linked. Brain activity functions through chemistry and chemistry remains balanced when you are releasing the endorphins and other antioxidants that occur when you exercise, and without it, you don’t function at top capacity. People who have the experience after they run or after they exercise of thinking more clearly, that’s happening physically in your body and so maintaining a healthy lifestyle will allow you to have not just positive moods, but also enhance brain activity.

Samir Becic: This is so true and I’m so glad that you understand that and I wish at least 50 percent of America understood at least 50 percent of what you’re saying and have 50 percent of your knowledge. It is tremendously important to know that through healthy lifestyle you can not only manage or completely avoid 60 to 70 percent of known illnesses but you are actually becoming the best nature/God created in the first place. So you really are getting the best DNA expression as well. On another note, this is interesting, I see you received a $25,000 prize for health equity efforts.

Mayor Nirenberg: This actually just happened today and we were named one of the top cities in America with regards to health equity, and I was named by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. We are going to be a finalist and finding out the actual winner within the next month or two. It’s quite an achievement, considering the list that San Antonio has been on for the last couple of decades ranking us as among the most obese cities. So we are really turning that around and it has been a community-wide effort.

Samir Becic: That is very noble, Mayor. I’m trying to do this with mayor Sylvester Turner right now in Houston and like San Antonio, has been known as one of the fattest cities in America for a long time. But I also read an interesting fact, that you started working out when you were 14 years old.

Mayor Nirenberg: Yeah, I was very skinny and I started working out because I was inspired by my heroes growing up.

Samir Becic: Who was your hero?

Mayor Nirenberg: Well, I was a boy in the ’80s, and I watched all the Arnold (Schwarzenegger) movies.

Samir Becic: Arnold, ok! You know what I like about Arnold? In 1989, he was former President George Bush Sr.’s Fitness Czar of America. He actually went to all the governors and the mayors of major cities to motivate them to be healthy and fit. That’s why I like him. Arnold did an amazing job but I don’t think that people ever realized how much effort he put into this.


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@schwarzenegger loves SA and @afterschoolallstars. Check out a special message from Arnold. Thanks, @alamocitycomiccon!

A post shared by Mayor Ron Nirenberg (@ron_nirenberg) on

Mayor Nirenberg: Yeah I remember staying up on Saturday night after SNL, the American Gladiators would come on, and I would convince my dad to buy me a weight set, but I really didn’t get serious about it until  I was a freshman in college and I went to see a trainer to give me a routine because I was just so skinny. I wanted him to teach me how to eat and to work out. He did and I never stopped.

Samir Becic: One more question: What three tips you would say to Americans on how to be healthy and fitter?  

Mayor Nirenberg: Move it or lose it, stop eating sugar, and in addition to that, if it’s in a package, don’t eat it.

Samir Becic: That is really wise and I couldn’t say it better myself. Thank you, Mayor Nirenberg, you rock!

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