A fitness coach's pumping up pays off

Adrian Pietrariu spends most of his time pushing other people to work out hard, make sacrifices at the dinner table and see the reward for their labors.

Last weekend, the La Cañada Flintridge businessman and resident reaped the rewards of his own effort, winning four medals at an International Natural Bodybuilding Assn. competition in Los Angeles. Pietrariu was named both “Mr. Hollywood” and “Mr. Los Angeles” in his weight and age categories for the physique he has cultivated without the use of steroids at his La Cañada gym, West Coast Boot Camp.

To top it off, two of his clients, Robert Blackstone and his teen daughter Payton Bella Blackstone, won medals in their categories, as well.

Pietrariu, 34, said a couple of months ago he decided to enter the competition, though he wasn't sure he'd follow through.

But then, he said, “I started telling my clients I was going to compete. That kept me honest. Then there was no backing out of it.”

Pietrariu is a native of Romania who fled shortly before the revolution in 1989. He lived in refugee camps in Serbia, soon to suffer its own bloody revolution, for 11 months before moving to the United States with relatives in 1990. He came to California as a teenager, started as staffer at gyms such as 24-Hour Fitness and in 2005 launched West Coast Boot Camp, one of several personal training facilities now operating on Foothill Boulevard.

For the “Mr. Natural” competition last weekend, Pietrariu and other entrants endured lie detector and body fluid tests to ensure they do not use anabolic steroids before taking the stage to strike body-building poses that revealed different aspects of their physiques.

Pietrariu stands 5'9” and weighs about 170 pounds, is shaped like a V and embraces a schedule that has him leading a boot camp at 5:30 a.m. and another one at 6 p.m. with private clients and his own workouts in between.

Robert Blackstone, a Calabasas resident who has worked with Pietrariu for years, calls him a “tough but loving” coach whose main work is to convince his clients to stick with the program.

“A lot of people don't want to do what is required of them,” Blackstone said.

Pietrariu said the biggest challenge is usually at the table, not the gym.

“For my clients the hardest thing is the eating,” he said. “If they stick to their diet, they can make phenomenal changes in their bodies.”

Pietrariu said he and his family members were wowed by the food options when they first arrived in the United States, and he came to crave breakfast cereal and McDonald's fare like millions of other kids. But as he grew older he dedicated himself to a fitness regimen, and now carefully controls his diet and his workout schedule.

“As a body builder, you have to create a system and you have to stick to it,” he said. “That discipline really keeps me focused in every aspect of my life.”

Copyright © 2019, La Cañada Valley Sun
EDITION: California | U.S. & World