Hey there, I’m Omar Romero, the creator of The Hybrid Method. Growing up, I was always involved in some type of sport or physical activity. At 12 years old, I was a skater boy and couldn’t get enough of it. I remember sneaking out of the house just so I could get a few hours in at the skate park with friends. In high school, I discovered gymnastics and skating quickly faded away. Gymnastics taught me about discipline and consistency. I wasn’t the best at first but got a job at a club gym in the summer to train at during the off season. That off season training enabled me to compete at the state level as a Junior. I was never into school and simply did the work just so I was eligible to compete in gymnastics.
Once I graduated high school, I found the easiest college I could go to for my degree. While my friends left for schools across the country, I opted to go to a local college and work a full time job. We didn’t have much money growing up but it was enough to get us through. Looking back, I learned a lot about what truly matters in life and that if I were ever to find myself in that type of financial situation as an adult, I would be ok. As a student who worked full time, I was bringing in more money than I’ve ever had in my life. At that age, getting drunk was cool (or so I thought) so I shifted my energy towards partying. This is when athletics fell to the waist side and just like skateboarding, I couldn’t get enough of partying. The alcohol soon led to hard drugs. The combination of money and alcohol/substances soon became my identity. I was the party guy and everyone knew it. I took a semester off of college as my grades suffered immensely. During my time off, I remember thinking to myself, “Is this it?” I got my act together (somewhat) and enrolled back into classes the next semester. Before graduating college, I accepted a job in corporate sales in downtown Chicago. I was ready to start a new chapter my life but the party persona came with for the ride.
Post college life is where things took a deep dive into the dark side. Shortly after college, I moved out of my grandparents house and went to live the big city life in Chicago. I was now making more money and had more freedom than ever before. The addiction to alcohol and substances grew and become more aggressively engraved into my life. I started seeing the same habits from college of not showing up for class (before I took a semester off) at work. I remember my boss at the time pulling me into an office and point blank asking me, “Do you want me to fire you?” That talk shook me up a little bit but the partying continued. I started working out again but it was mainly bro lifting with no direction or programming. I didn’t know what I was doing.
With the push of a friend I made at the gym, I signed up for my first race in May called the Cinco De Miler. A 5 mile run that left me completely winded and barely hung on. While I hated the experience of being bad at something, I started to feel a drive to get back in shape. I started going to group fitness classes during lunch time and quickly got hooked. There wasn’t a day I missed. I was living on the north side of Chicago and would make my way back to the loop on Saturday mornings to go to a specific class. I was young but putting my body through hell. I was working out like a mad man and partying hard on the weekends.
In July, I took a solo trip to Tokyo, Japan and that was my first step to figuring out who I was as a person. I was looking for a new experience and wanted to step outside of my comfort zone. Traveling for over 24 hours by yourself to a country where you needed to figure out the train system without English the second you got off the plane definitely did that. After the first day jitters, I explored aimlessly throughout the beautiful country of Japan. From ramen, to robot restaurant, to the Great Buddha of Kamakura, words cannot explain what this experience did for me. Takeaway, I could do anything I put my mind to. My confidence as an individual began to grow and I started to make better choices in my life but still couldn’t shake the weekend blackouts of alcohol and substance abuse.
As an outsider, you may have thought I had my life together. I had a great career, worked out, and was a new relationship. On the inside, I was struggling as I had mixed feelings about myself. I was athletic but also a complete mess on the weekends. Later that year, I got dumped and was heart broken for the first time since high school. I needed to do something new. I started listening to podcast around that time and kept hearing about people going on meditation retreats. I did a search online and saw there was one coming up in a few months leading up to New Years Eve. As someone who’s never meditated before, I was in for a treat. During that experience, I learned about the power of meditation and the ability to come to peace with past traumas. I reflected on my relationship with alcohol and substances. I thought about that relationship and realized that the breakup was something that happened FOR me. I knew something was about to change.
Waking up on New Years Day, I went to the gym and did what I enjoyed most, worked out. I had this feeling that something needed to change. I loved fitness and I loved what it had started to do for me. In March, I signed up to get certified as a group fitness instructor. Group fitness is what reignited my love for fitness and I wanted to give that same excitement to the world. Over the next 6 months, I spend my evenings and nights studying like I was in school again with hopes I would pass my exam. The hardest part for me was staying focused on reading and practice quizzes while my friends enjoyed the Chicago summer but I had this voice to just keep going. In August, I took my final exam and passed. I was officially a fitness professional. My home gym, Fitness Formula Clubs, offered me a position as a group fitness instructor and didn’t think twice. During this transition, I was able to cut substance abuse from my life but I still had alcohol hovering over my shoulder.
As I grew into this new person (the fitness guy), I still couldn’t shake alcohol from my life and it was showing. I could tell my body was becoming weaker as I was burning the candle from both ends. In June, I made the decision to quit alcohol cold turkey. Criticism from people within my circle started to surface but I ignored them as I knew it was the right thing. A couple months later, I signed up for my first Spartan race thinking I was going to kill it. I was a trainer in Chicago and “I knew everything”… or so I thought I did. I signed up for a beast (13 miles and 30 obstacles) and by mile 5, I was done. I’ve never experienced so much physical fatigue in my life. It took me almost 4 hours to complete that race. My body was destroyed and it took me two weeks to get back to normal training. This is where I learned that I was FIT but UNHEALTHY. I was ripped but had no real strength or endurance. I told myself I would be back for redemption.
Early in the year, I got my second certification as a personal trainer. Not only did I want to continue my education as a newbie to the industry but I wanted to learn about frameworks and progressive overload to implement into my own training. I had my eyes set on going to Montana for another shot at a Spartan beast… then COVID hit. Every race was cancelled and gyms were closed. That’s where the idea of long distance running came to mind. I thought to myself, if I could make running the easy part of a Spartan race, then everything else has to fall into place. I began running at higher volume and reading books about endurance. Taking the time to stay home opened my eyes to what is truly important to me. I realized Chicago was great for the time being but it wasn’t in my future. At that time, I was living with a past girlfriend and we visited Denver in September and instantly fell in love with the area. 3 months later, we quit our jobs, packed up our lives, and moved to the mountains.
As COVID slowly started to end, races started to pick back up. I competed in 5 Spartan races (1 super, 3 beast, and 1 ultra) and finished in the top 10 in 3 races. It was more racing than I’ve ever done before but something clicked inside of me. Everything from going sober to moving to Colorado made the difference in not just the races but more importantly, who I was as a person. This is where I was supposed to be. This is who I wanted to be. I started to see how fitness was giving me my life back. I was happy and didn’t feel the need to please everyone or try to “be cool” to fit in.
Today, I consider myself a hybrid athlete. I’m in a constant pursuit to seek what my true potential is as a man and contributor to society. As an athlete, I do this through competing in functional fitness competitions, ultra marathon trail and obstacle course races. I obtained my credentials as a fitness professional to understand the fundamentals of fitness but more importantly, so I could help others reach their health/fitness potential. I did the initial launch of my company, The Hybrid Method, which is an online personal training community, but quickly learned how much I didn’t know about entrepreneurship. The launch was a fail but more importantly a learning opportunity for me to go back to the drawing board and do this right.