April 15, 2015

Backstage at the Egyptian: An interview with gym owner Ray Binkowski

Interview conducted by Chris Jackson – Egyptian Theatre Marketing Intern.

Ray Binkowski fills a unique niche in the DeKalb community. He has put on many events at the Egyptian Theatre and was even a past board member. His dedication to both fitness and helping others is extremely motivating. 

Chris: What do you do for a living?

Ray: Author, gym owner (FitWorkz), trainer, and event promoter.

Chris: What do you like most about your job?

Ray: Sharing what I learned during my personal experience, transitioning from the struggling fat guy trying to lose weight to someone that has lost over 60 lbs and kept it off for over 15 years, with other people.  On a daily basis my staff and I at FitWorkz get the chance to help people change their lives.  Thanks to the internet and the power of the written word today we get to do that with even more people online all across the world.

Chris: What was your first event at the Egyptian and how did it go?

R ray ay: The OCB Midwest States and Bench press contest in November 2005.  It was a learning experience to say the least.  First having a weight lifting contest meant hauling hundreds and hundreds of pounds of weight and equipment into the theatre.  Additionally, out of all my staff, volunteers, helpers, and family I was the only one that had experience with the Midwest States contest. Thankfully some of the spectators had experience with running contests like ours and they stepped up and lent a hand, resulting in an event with less bumps than it could have.

Chris: What makes you keep coming back to the Egyptian Theatre for events?

Ray: The ambiance.  Our events are physique events where competitors are judged on appearance.  Lighting is critical.  The Egyptian Theatre has some of the best lighting in the country for events like ours. The incredible lighting combined with the ambiance of an old school Egyptian style theatre create a memorable and for many a once in a lifetime experience.  This year will be the tenth anniversary of our first event.  To date we have had over a thousand competitors from around the world, yes AROUND the world, come to DeKalb to get on stage at the Egyptian Theatre.  A really great secondary benefit is that all of these people come to DeKalb for the day and stay overnight. They stay in local hotels, shop, and eat in our community creating a significant economic impact.

Ray Presenting at the Egyptian

Chris: Favorite memory at the Egyptian?

Ray: Man there are a ton! The first time we had over 100 competitors compete (which was my goal back in 2005). The first time we had a deaf person compete we turned the auditorium lights on and the entire audience used sign language to sign applause. The first time a competitor from overseas entered our contest. A guest posing routine rivaling the movie Conan. Renting the theatre and doing a living walk through of my book “Eat by Color” when it was first printed, I truly could go on and on.

Stop by and say hello to Ray this weekend (April 18th) at the OCB Spring Naturals hosted at the Egyptian Theatre. For more information on Ray visit FitWorkz.com.