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Tempe Comic Book Store Owner Pushes Customers, Friends to Focus on Fitness

Published: Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Updated: Friday, July 20, 2012 14:07


Amanda Nelson, City of Tempe

Marco Regalado, left with Tempe Mayor Hugh Hallman and Sean Arteaga celebrate the grand opening of Pop Culture Paradise's new location


To go from flab to superhero fab, Popular Culture Paradise owner Marco Regalado turned his store’s fan base of comic book lovers into a support system for weight loss success. 

Regalado has owned the Tempe comic book shop for three years and said store duties kept him from working out.

He decided to turn to fellow comic book lovers for help and asked himself, “How could I turn the business of the comic book shop into something that motivates me to stay healthy and fit?”

“I’ve always been into working out and trying to stay fit but never really took it too serious,” Regalado said, adding that his goals were to drop weight, get healthier and make sure he will be around for his children’s milestones. “I want to see my kids graduate. Also, I’m a mild diabetic case so staying healthy for that is important.”

He created a Facebook event that ends on June 13, the date he hopes to be 38 pounds lighter by, and invited friends, family and customers from his shop to join. It has since been rescheduled to July 13.

“The majority of the people part of the Facebook event are comic book fans because they’re friends that I’ve met here in the shop,” Regalado said. “I wasn’t thinking ‘mighty, powerful Marco can summon his people and we can all get healthy together.’ It was more or less having people post their results and, for me, that’s huge because it motivates me to post my results and to get into better shape.”

Regalado recruited comic book enthusiast Sean Hughes, who also helps out at conventions, to the event. Hughes said that at the time, he weighed about 210 pounds and was looking to slim down.  

“I was into more, like, weight lifting, so I wasn’t on the slimmer side,” he said. “I was more like kind of the guy who was bulkier, didn’t have any abs.”

Hughes dropped 10 pounds with a combination of P90X, running and physical training. Like Regaldo, Hughes said the Facebook event helped him set and keep track of his weight-loss achievements.

“Tracking your progress is important because you get down on yourself if you don’t feel like you’re changing,” he said. “It’s a good way to track the changes and be more proactive in keeping up with it.”

Hughes said he went from being bulkier to having a physique more like Captain America and a new pride in being healthy.

“Your body is a temple, and you need to take care of yourself,” Hughes said.

The accountability from the Facebook group has helped, Regalado said.

“Everybody started posting on there,” he said, adding that posts have included tips, pounds dropped, frustrations and messages of motivation. “It turned into something really cool, and I guess that in turn motivated me.”

Regalado said that certain comic book fans are into health and fitness in order to fit into costumes and embody their favorite characters in costume play, which is more commonly referred to as cosplay.

“A lot of our people cosplayers,” Regalado said. “They’re people that will dress up as their favorite super hero character or animated cartoon character. They stay in shape to make their cosplay as believable as possible. […] There’s some good looking nerds out there, and there are some pretty buff ones, too.”

Jettie Monday is one such cosplayer, who worked as an assistant manager at Popular Culture Paradise.

“It's important for me to stay looking fit and strong, because I'm supposed to look like a super hero,” she said. “Super heroes aren't flabby.”

Monday added that the comic book lady costumes aren’t very forgiving “when it comes to lumps, bumps, and bulges,” but she does her best to look good without going overboard.

“I want to look strong. Maybe not She-Hulk strong, or even Wonder Woman strong, but I definitely want to be at least Batgirl strong,” she said, and achieves this look through eating right and working out.

With a combination of P90X, mild weights, yoga, taking supplements and eating healthier, Regalado said he has dropped 13 pounds by press time.

“For success, with health, the best gains from me have come from not eating after 7 p.m. That’s huge,” Regalado said, adding that healthy snacking is good, “not just starving yourself in the afternoon then eating a big old huge meal.”

He said that a cardiovascular workout after a regular workout is great.

“I found that once you do your main workout then start jogging or running, you’ve burned through all the crap carbs in your standard workout, then all you’re burning is the fat,” he said. 

Another key to Regalado’s success has been working out with a friend.

“I tried doing solo,” he said. “I used to do that all the time, but having someone else there or someone else to report to is good. […] I’ve got a couple people that are those hard-asses; they push me and remind me of the deadline. I hate them when I’m going through it, but I love them when I’m done. […] Going to the gym gets tedious and gets boring as hell after a while, but if you can find something pretty fun, or someone fun to do it with, it’s pretty cool, and then it turns into a lifestyle.”

Regalado’s new lifestyle has improved his health conditions, he said.

“I haven’t taken my high cholesterol or high blood pressure or pills for my diabetes because the doctor said, ‘You can lay off those right now,’” he said.

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