José Monteiro is the Portuguese IFBB Technical Director, an IFBB Elite Pro Judge and a guest professor in some of the most recognizable Portuguese sports-related polytechnic institutes. He is living the dream when it comes to fitness. With more than 15 years of experience in the realm, he is “the guy” in the national bodybuilding scene and an amazing professional.
I recently had an opportunity to talk to José about his career, the sports industry, and the organization’s plan and the recent partnership with SportIn Global. This is what he had to say.
Make sure to sign up and connect with José Monteiro and follow IFBB PT at SportIn Global.
Hi José, so how did you get into fitness?
I grew up watching Arnold Shwarzenegger and all those guys. I also very into sports as a kid, I tried wrestling, field hockey, football, and kickboxing. When I started kickboxing at 16, the fitness culture was very prominent, I was surrounded by guys who were physically peaked, and it made me want to train like they did. At the same time, a bodybuilding judge course had just started, and I decided to give it a go, since I liked the sport and was invested in it. I loved the course and started hanging around people from the IFBB, building my network and well… 14 years have gone by since then.
What do you consider more important to have a successful career in the sport industry?
You have to love what you job. If you are not staying up at night excited about work the next day, you are going the wrong direction. If you are passionate about what you are doing there is no failure, at that point you have already won.
Can you tell us a little bit more about the IFBB?
First of all, I want to make sure everyone understands that our current objective is to go towards the fitness/sport concept and step away from the illegal substances and unethical personality cult that is at the core of the industry.
In Portugal we are extraordinarily strong technically, we have amazing coaches and athletes, but our corporate side is very underdeveloped. We do not even have a well-established marketing department. We also do not have much government funding, we are close to getting the status required to earn it, but it will take time, and as of now we only have sponsor funding which falls truly short. Most of our staff are volunteers consequently and to get events done we usually need to make use of our network and ask for help from other international federations to set it up as we simply do not have the man power or infrastructures to do so.
Our plan going forward is to get the status, bring young new people in with different ideas and get the ball rolling towards being a recognizable and sustainable federation.
Are you concerned about the stigma surrounding bodybuilding? And how big of a problem is the image contrast between the illegal associations not under WADA and the image the IFBB tries to portray?
I am, but people are right to have that stigma. The industry itself is a stigma. People are afraid of bodybuilders because they see them as these big monsters pumped on unauthorized substances, that is why we want to separate ourselves from that and go towards fitness and aesthetic complexities. Of course, to do that we need a full rebranding and “image cleanse” which will require some funding.
How has it been to manage funding during this difficult time?
Well as I said earlier, we are working towards getting the public utility status required to be recognized and receive more government funding.
As of now we are not necessarily feeling the impact on a financial level because our main sponsorship contracts are only renegotiated every 2 years and because of that we can only wait to see. One thing I can tell is that if this situation stays the same for a long time, I expect some sponsors to retract or at least renovate with lower values. I have seen other federations struggling with that same issue as some sponsors “jumped out of the boat” the same day lockdown started.
We might not have felt that as much because our sport does not require that much contact and we actually had an increase in athletes during this pandemic. People who had no time started training at home, got into great condition and began competing. It was amazing to see!
What can we expect from the IFBB in the near future?
We will have the national championship in the 26th and 27th of September and the European Bodybuilding and Fitness Championships starting in the 15th of September and both will be streamed. Our digital content needs work (we are aware) and we are in contact we some organizations who can elevate us to the next level in that department. We also tried to dabble into some more technological environments but for now we will stick to increasing the quality of our competition and keep that at the highest of standards. We are open to new ideas, new opportunities but ones that match our values and are within our reach. We take our rules and regulations very seriously, we have a clear mission and strong values and want to propel the sport as much as we can, as soon as we can. That is our goal.
What are your thoughts on the FMH Sport Management MSc program you are currently undergoing?
I thoroughly enjoyed my first year. Learned a lot about the business aspect of the sport industry. It was also a very atypical year because of the pandemic. First semester was full of great lectures, classes and teachers, the infrastructures were great, most of my classmates were also sports professionals which allowed me to further expand my network and make some friends along the way. Second semester the adaption was a bit difficult to everyone specially me because I am not necessarily the best with new technology but, I got through it and was still a very constructive time.
I am excited for the new year to start. Hopefully, it will be as good as the last one!
A final message for our audience?
I want to leave a special thanks to the local administration of Torres Vedras for letting us have our competition in their facilities considering the current situation and, to the audience, just be sure to find something that you love doing and work hard on it. Passion and commitment are the most important things in any industry. Thank you for having me here and us, the IFBB, as you partner.