Shaun Clarida ’05, coordinator of athletic operations/equipment manager

As an undergraduate, Shaun Clarida ’05 was a member of the Broncs varsity wrestling program and is now working in the Department of Athletics as the coordinator of athletic operations/equipment manager while pursuing his master’s degree.

In his spare time, however, he is working toward a second World Championship, his first as a professional.

Clarida has been training to be a bodybuilder since January 2005. This is a process of developing the musculature of the body through specific types of diet and physical exercise, such as weightlifting, especially for competitive exhibition.

“I made the Rider wrestling team as a (non-scholarship) walk-on freshman,” Clarida said. “During my junior year, I was training for wrestling when I met Tom Garruca, a bodybuilder from Ewing, and he told me I’d be perfect for bodybuilding. I was never a fan of bodybuilding but I’m always up for a challenge and this seemed to be one. I gave it a shot and it stuck with me. The first show I did that year I placed third and just continued on after that.”

Clarida built a successful career as an amateur for two years before turning pro. “I wanted to win the (amateur) title before I went pro,” said Clarida, a graduate of Hackensack (N.J.) High School.

In April 2006, he won the International Natural Bodybuilding Federation Northeast America Show, being named Best Poser of the Show and winning his weight class. “I wasn’t that confident at that time, so I remained an amateur for another year before competing against the professionals,” Clarida said.

His goal was to capture the Amateur World Championship, where he had previously taken third before joining the pro ranks. “I wanted to end my amateur career with a bang, and there was no better way than winning at Amateur World Title,” said Clarida, who persevered, becoming the first bantamweight (150 pounds and below) in INBF history to win the overall championship. “That was my second win, but it’s also when I earned my ‘pro card.’”

After receiving his “pro card,” which allows competitors to compete professionally, he began training for his professional debut, the 2007 WNBF Mr. & Mrs. Universe, which was held in the Grand Cayman Islands, where he placed second in the lightweight division.

This past September, Clarida traveled to Sacramento, Calif., to capture first place in the lightweight division at the 2009 WNBF Pro Natural U.S. Cup Bodybuilding & Figure Championships for his first professional win.

“I weighed in at my lightest ever, 128 pounds, the lightest guy in the class,” Clarida said. 

Clarida will be in New York City on Saturday, November 14, to compete in the 2009 WNBF Pro Natural Nature’s Best World Championships. In 2007, he placed second at this tournament and third last year. “This is the biggest show of the year,” Clarida said.

WNBF stands for World Natural Bodybuilding Federation. All competitors are subject to drug tests to keep the sport “clean” and free of steroids and other growth hormones.

“That is the one thing I always stress, that I am 100 percent natural and have never used, nor would I ever use, any type of illegal drugs to enhance my body,” Clarida said. “In natural bodybuilding, they test us all of the time to keep it drug-free. The larger group, the group that usually gets all of the attention and all of the sponsors, they don’t test for drugs at all. I am one of the few natural bodybuilders to get a sponsor.”

As Clarida found out, bodybuilding is much different from wrestling.

“I lifted weights for wrestling. Now, I don’t train for strength, but for a look, to be leaner and more ripped. It is very different from wrestling,” he recalled. “In wrestling, there are just two guys and it is clear who wins and loses. In bodybuilding, you are competing against 10 to 15 people and the judging is completely subjective. Every judge has his own opinion.”

Bodybuilding is more than just a hobby; in Clarida’s case, it’s become a way of life. “I train one body part a day, usually two-and-a-half to three hours,” he said. “When I’m getting ready for a show, I train an additional hour of cardio and posing. I take every show as if it is my first show, even though I’ve done about 16 so far. I imagine I’m the only person on stage and it is just me and the judges.”

Clarida is usually on stage with others in his weight class and the judges compare. “There are close to 300 people in the audience but it is dark, with the lights on the stage, so you really don’t see them,” Clarida said.  “I just try to wow every judge with my overall condition, my leanness, my symmetry, muscularity. What the judges like about me more than my competitors is my symmetry. It is almost perfect; that and my posing. Posing is something that any bodybuilder can work on, but with me it is my symmetry and my stage presence.”

So far, Clarida has wowed many judges, but he feels the best is yet to come.

“My goal is to be a Professional World Champion and that takes place in November,” Clarida said. “I was an Amateur World Champion in 2006 and hopefully I can become a pro World Champion in 2009. In the WNBF that’s as good as it gets.”