Jim Stoppani, Ph.D., began his love affair with iron a long time ago. "As part of our sixth-grade career day, we had to create a poster of the career we were interested in pursuing," he says. "I only had one in mind: professional bodybuilder. Everyone laughed. 'You guys just wait,' I told them. 'I'll show you.'"
And so he did. Today, Stoppani's combination of gym smarts, academic rigor, and passion has put him among the true list of bodybuilding, fitness, and nutrition masters.
Stoppani's early years training with his father in their Connecticut home's DIY gym led to regional bodybuilding awards while he was still in his teens. He began his academic journey at the University of Connecticut, where he earned a B.S. in sports medicine and athletic training. He then studied strength biomechanics at Auburn University's famed strength-training research facility, before moving on to Georgia Southern University to complete his master's degree. From there, he returned to the University of Connecticut to integrate physiology, biomechanics, and psychology into his studies as he earned his doctorate.
But, while conducting research during his postdoctoral fellowship at Yale University, Stoppani realized his career in academia wasn't going to get him where he wanted to go.
"I was sitting there [in the Yale lab] watching rats run, focused on gene regulation in rodents," Stoppani recalls. "Everything I was doing in the lab was interesting to me, how muscles grow, how they get faster, how we burn more fat, but at heart I was a bodybuilder. I wanted to put that information into a usable form, so I started writing articles and sending them to Joe Weider at Muscle & Fitness magazine."
Stoppani idolized Weider, the man known as the Master Blaster. Under Weider's guidance, Stoppani quickly developed a reputation as a guy who could both move big iron and tell the truth about the supplements that were flooding the market. Before long, he and his full suit of tattoos were becoming instantly recognizable throughout the bodybuilding community. His career soon expanded to include his accomplishments as the savvy creator of his own supplement brand (JYM) and as a sought-after strength expert.