Jon “Bionic” Bayani is a world renowned dancer, specializing in funk styles (popping, boogaloo, and locking). In 1998, along with Rockforce Crew, he won world championships, Battle of the Year. This brought him international exposure and has led to teaching and battling all around the world (US, France, England, Japan, Korea, Germany, Switzerland, Denmark, Mexico, South Africa and even the French Caribbean). He’s been in music videos, theatrical shows, movies, the whole deal. He co-founded and is a part of the calfornia based popping crew, Machine Gone Funk, who are also known around the world. Can’t forget, he was on MTV’s America’s Best Dance Crew as a part of Supreme Soul, representing the California Bay Area. He has won a whole bunch of battles and has been a positive influence in the scene all over the world. Basically, the man knows dance, inside and out.
I met Jon through mutual friends in the bay, but it wasn’t until we had a seriously epic arm wrestle battle at an All The Way Live after party, that we got to know each other better. It’s like they say, many people become closer friends after they battle. What was the outcome? It got to the point where neither of our arms were moving after a while and both of our shoulders felt like they were going to ‘splode. We called an honest to goodness truce and vowed to never do it again.
Ever since I started up fitmentality.com, Jon has been very supportive of it. Knowing that we are both into fitness and nutrition, it seemed like a perfect opportunity to talk with him about his experience with fitness/nutrition and how he relates to it as a dancer.
When I talk to dancers about nutrition and fitness, I do the best I can to explain how important those things are in the dance journey. Many of what I have experienced and explained to others, Jon has lived through as well. As we spoke about this topic, I couldn’t wait to get it all written down and out to the world. This is thus far my favorite post on this website. Not only because I feel so passionate about the topic, but because it is so exciting to have a conversation with someone who you are on the EXACT same page with about how you go about a lifestyle.
So, here we go. FitMentality interview with Jonathan”Bionic” Bayani, about the role nutrition and fitness play in his life as a dancer.
FitMentality: What role has nutrition played in your dance journey?
Bionic: Often, dancers don’t pay too close attention to their health. We practice late into the night, we go out to eat at whatever restaurants are still open. There are often parties after shows, which can lead to consuming many empty calories. This is what led me to begin gaining weight. My weight would yo-yo, and at one point I reached 225 pounds. I started to get injured more often. I would get sprained ankles. I noticed that having a bigger upper body and skinny legs was a contributing factor to the sprained ankles. This is when I realized that nutrition was playing a role in my dancing.
FM: Why do you think so many dancers ignore the importance of fitness/nutrition?
Bionic: It really depends on how serious they are about dance. It’s a lifestyle. Dancing comes hand in hand with late nights, partying, drinking, eating food at random hours of the night. The thing is, dancers that are in the (entertainment) industry, competing, performing, need to look at dance in a different way. You need to have a strong image and longevity really matters. This is almost like a re-birth for me. I’m 31, and in the best shape of my life. I started competing again and I can feel that I have more confidence in my body to perform at a high level for a longer period of time. Some of my mentors are in their 40s and still dancing. I’m only 31, what’s my excuse?
FM: Describe when you realized that adding a focus to fitness/nutrition in your life would help your dancing career.
Bionic: I noticed I was more injury prone. I would get hurt more often and more easily. During battles, my rounds were shorter and I couldn’t hang as well. I decided to get a trainer. I worked with Monelle Reyes and started to train in Muay Thai. When you start to train like that, you realize that you WANT to eat healthy. It just, happens. Your body can feel when you train hard but eat bad. Your body knows something isn’t right if you don’t eat good food while exercising like that.
FM: How has nutrition and fitness benefited your career?
Bionic: I feel younger. My legs are stronger. I can do more ground moves than I could before. You trip out when you notice the ability you gain when focusing on fitness and nutrition. Lately, I’ve been able to teach two, two hour workshops in the same day and not be dead. Yes it’s tiring, but this wouldn’t have been possible before. I can dance longer and not be so tired. Working in the industry, being fit gets you more jobs. It sucks that that’s the case, but it’s a reality. That’s just how it is. Getting a job can be based on how you look. It’s sad, but true. You need a clean image in the industry.
I want to keep battling. I want it bad. Like an athlete, I have to stay fit to reach the goals I have.
FM: How about an example of the food you eat?
Bionic: I have to eat breakfast every day. I like trader joe’s hot cereal/oatmeal in the morning, mixed with a scoop of whey protein. I’ll throw in some chia or flax seeds as well. I’ll wash it down with green tea and finish it all off with a multi-vitamin.
I usually workout early. After my workout I’ll eat again, within 30 mins. Maybe some cottage cheese with berries/pinnapple or other fruit. Or, I’ll have a protein bar.
FM: You have a lifestyle that can get pretty hectic. How do you stay on track with your health?
Bionic: It’s all about choices. You CAN make good choices. It’s possible. Say we go out to eat, then I’ll stay away from burgers and fries. If we do go to a burger place, I won’t get a burger AND fries. Only the burger and then get a healthier side, like a salad or vegetables. I also take food with me when traveling. I’ll bring a bag of almonds, cashews, protein bars, trail mix, everywhere I go. I recently went to Mexico and had to choose what I ate wisely. Especially when we ate food from the street vendors. What it comes down to is it’s all about the choices we make. It’s easier to settle for less. Discipline is really important when traveling.
FM: What is your favorite exercise or fitness activity?
Bionic: Muay Thai is my favorite. I haven’t been practicing it as much lately, but its my favorite. It’s always different and never the same type of workout. Plus, its a great cardio workout. I don’t do the same, consistent workouts. I like to switch it up. One day I’ll do the Spartacus 1.0 workout, and another day I’ll do the Spartacus 2.0 workout. Another day I might do an MMA workout with knee and elbow and ab work. I like plyometrics. I don’t want to lift too much. I want my fitness programs to be more well rounded. I like exercises that have a full range of motion. For example, medicine ball and kettle bell work, turkish get ups. Burpees are great for dancers. They work your whole body and are great for cardio exercise.
FM: What advice do you have for dancers who are starting to realize the benefit they can experience from adding a focus on nutrition and fitness?
Bionic: It’s a question of how much you value your life. I almost had to quit dancing because I was getting injured so much. I realized I had to make a change. With nutrition, it’s not something that will happen overnight. It will happen if you really want it; but you have to give it time. It was a big eye opener for me that I was able to start winning battles again after not battling for a while. This was a big part of why I made such a change. Nutrition and fitness gave me hope. I moved to L.A and started to get more in the industry. Things started happening. Living a healthy life is not just something you do, it’s a LIFESTYLE. It’s not something that happens on the side, it has to be a part of your life.
FM: How awesome is fitmetality.com, and how great is Isaac?
Bionic: FitMentality is the coolest thing in the world. The whole universe should subscribe to the site and “like” the FM facebook page in order to get updates on all of the awesome posts. Isaac is the coolest guy in the whole world and everyone should read all of his cool posts. HE’S AWESOME, OMGZ!!!!!
(Ok, maybe that last question and answer didn’t actually happen, and I completely made it up. But, he was probably thinking that exact response, just didn’t say it out loud 😉 )
Since it does take time, sometimes it can be hard to see how real the connection is between dance and fitness/nutrition. Jon is a perfect example of how these types of changes really do have strong implications and outcomes.
Here is a clip, in case you haven’t seen the skillllls
Everyone has their own journey. This happens to be one example of how one dancer noticed that how he ate and how he trained, greatly benefited his life, as well as his career.
You can follow Jon on Twitter @BionicGoneFunk or check out his blog at http://www.becomewhoyouare.tumblr.com/
For another post written especially for dancers, check out “This one’s for the dancers.”