Movement, Music and Muscles: 360Living with Gary McClain

By Colleen McTiernan

Since his high school days, Gary McClain, aka DJ Ruckus, has been enamored with hip-hop dancing. Although he had been introduced to the style through his father’s robot dance moves, he did not truly understand how broad the dance spectrum was (popping, waving, etc.) until he started watching breakdancing movies, like “Breakin’” and “Beat Street.” “I remember seeing those and thinking, ‘Wow, I really want to learn how to do that’,” said McClain. “But there was never really a way to learn that so I always just kind of mimicked what I saw in the videos.”

As a self-proclaimed “hip-hop head” it was a natural progression for McClain’s interest in hip-hop dancing to transition into a passion for the music. In 2000 as a high school senior, his older sister and her friends introduced him to deejaying. “She had a few friends who had turntables, so I kind of would always watch in the background what was going on there,” he said. After a friend from high school returned from an internship with DJ Funkmaster Flex, the host of the first hip-hop radio show in New York, McClain began spinning in earnest. “Him and I spun together for a year and a half and he taught me everything he learned,” he said. “At that point is when I realized that I loved this, this is something I wanted to do.”

McClain’s love of dance and hip-hop led him to help found the Hip Hop Collective in 2001. Hip Hop Collective is a student club at the University of Florida whose goal is to spread the positive influence of hip hop. The group also traveled for dance battles and learned from elite dances and judges along the way. Today the group is still active in Gainesville’s dance scene and hosts breaking events.

As for his DJ career, McClain started out in the Gainesville club scene and eventually started booking private gigs as DJ Ruckus. His career as a DJ Ruckus has grown, and today he uses his DJ career to fund his newest love and passion — bodybuilding.

McClain had always been interested in fitness, but a lack of time prevented him from ever getting competitive with it. In 2008, after his parents passed away within eight months of one another McClain knew he needed something to focus on to keep himself from derailing, and he turned his attention to competitive bodybuilding. “It kept me focused and kept me driven away from the tragedy I dealt with of losing them,” he said. “It’s just kind of been my security blanket ever since.”

After his first competition, he was hooked. He has since participated in two to three shows a year at the amateur level, traveling all over the country for different competitions, including to places like Las Vegas, Kentucky, North and South Carolina, and Miami. In the 10 years he has been bodybuilding, McClain has done quite a few shows, but his favorite was one that he did more recently in May of 2017. Aside from appreciating the timeliness of the show and the higher level of competition, McClain was also pleased with his performance. “At that particular show, I was able to be on the stage in front of a lot larger audience and I placed fifth out of 12, and that was a big move for me,” he said. This show was shortly after his daughter, McKenzie, was born, so he drove up to South Carolina and competed on his own, as his wife, Jen McClain had to stay behind. “That was kind of a growing experience, but also at the same time I just had a good time being able to do something by myself,” he said.

All in all, there is a sense of balance for McClain when it comes to bodybuilding. When he goes to a bodybuilding show, he is able not only to show off the work he has done on his body through diet and exercise, but he’s also able to incorporate his love of dance and music. For McClain, his time on stage is a time to entertain. He cuts and DJs his own music for his posing routine and he throws in some of his hip-hop popping moves, which drives the crowd wild. “It’s good for the show and it keeps the energy up,” said McClain. “That is one of the biggest things I love about it. It keeps me going.”

What does it take to prep for a bodybuilding competition?

McClain starts his competition preparation about 20 weeks out from his first show of the season. This gives him a chance to slowly change his eating patterns. In the off season, McClain will eat 5,500 to 6,500 calories a day, but as he gets into competition season he will decrease his caloric intake and focus on macronutrients. While weight training stays roughly the same for him throughout the year, he does increase his cardio workout routine from 20 minutes post-workout about five days per week to 80 minutes per day, seven days per week. Popping sometimes makes its way into his cardio routine as well. McClain also spends about 45 minutes per night practicing his poses during competition season.

A Family Affair

Shortly after McClain started bodybuilding, he met his now wife Jen McClain, and she jumped right into his fitness journey with him. Now, nine years later, she is an International Federation of BodyBuilding & Fitness (IFBB) Figure Pro.

Photo by Jimmy Ho Photography