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He can work it out

Frank Sorrentino collected a trio of trophies during his Saturday trip to Allentown.

Performance shot provided by Frank Sorrentino

Frank Sorrentino believes in perpetually offering positive estimations of others, choosing to credit them for the manners in which they manage their struggles. Having suffered five heart attacks and experienced major moments of self-doubt, he could have chosen to direct any derision right at himself, but he also refrained, holding that he could transform his mind and body into incredibly notable assets. Leaving judgments to others, the 47-year-old reveled on Saturday when his bodybuilding efforts yielded three accolades at the Ultimate Physique Championships.

“I still have a long way to go in becoming a better competitor, but I feel quite fortunate to have made amazing connections and to have received recognition for my preparation,” the product of the 10th Street and Snyder Avenue said of his journey, particularly the triumph involved in his trek to Allentown, where he claimed third place in the masters over 35 and over 40 categories and fourth place in the open heavyweight division. “Everything I see helps me to realize how much appreciation I should have for each day.”

The latter sentiment abounds in humility, especially when one considers the quintet of cardiac episodes that the Lower Moyamensing native has endured. Fully immersed in maturing as a student of life’s frequently lovely and occasionally lackluster lessons, Sorrentino sees each day as an opportunity to express thanks, with his domestic devotion and gym-based joy as chief motivators.

“It’s great to contemplate the overall spectrum of our lives,” he mused, noting that Saturday proved a “good” opportunity because of his trio of trophies and a “great” day due to enhanced mutual respect among the participants. “When I do that, I can say I’m at a fantastic place in my life, and I want to accumulate more wisdom because I think that provides the compassion that we need to thrive.”

Self-directed consideration intensified his approach as Sorrentino pondered acquiring distinction in the Lehigh County-situated gathering, with nods to fellow focused figures Jim Agigian, of Mount Laurel, N.J.’s Superior Training Concepts, and decorated International Federation of BodyBuilding & Fitness professional Fred “Biggie” Smalls. Having gained his initial exposure to the competitive world through last year’s Ultimate Physique pageant, even laughing upon realizing how finely tuned he needed for his body to be since “My uniform was a speedo,” he looked forward to making the recent rendition a quest more for contentment than kudos, not, of course, that needing to make room for his prizes at his West Deptford home has caused any catastrophes.

“Sometimes, we lose our gifts, and, if we’re fortunate, one or two will come back,” Sorrentino said. “I’d say I have been reunited with a really positive perspective, and I don’t see us ever parting again.”

The Garden State denizen bred his inaugural relationship with affirmation as a South Philly-reared youth. His childhood, thanks to parents Frank and Martha, teemed with gregarious interactions, including time with the Quaker City String Band, and character-forming experiences, such as his stint with the Boy Scouts. Also athletically inclined, with soccer and track and field as his passions, he gained an additional sense of camaraderie, entering the workforce upon his graduation from St. John Neumann High School, formerly 2600 Moore St., now Ss. Neumann-Goretti High School, 1736 S. 10th St.

“I moved to West Deptford, the other South Philly, you could say, and I eventually lucked out my meeting my wife, Kristen, and we’ve been blessed to have two wonderful children in Alyssa and Frankie,” Sorrentino gushed. “That family component has always been a huge part of who I am, so that’s definitely what I’m most thankful for in this world.”

He has also found himself grateful for multiple chances to prove his tenacity, as obesity and the aforementioned bouts with myocardial infarctions attempted to end not only his growth as a husband and a father but also his entire existence. A January 2011 trip to the Wells Fargo Center, 3601 S. Broad St., to catch a Flyers game proved pivotal, as his “borderline panic” on finding himself incredibly distressed due to his lack of fitness led him to wonder how could he truly enjoy life with limited mobility and pluck.

“So I educated myself on what to do,” he said, recalling with a laugh his decision to take a 30-day fitness challenge that Oprah Winfrey championed on her show, a move that resulted in a 15-pound weight loss. “Pretty soon, I realized I couldn’t say I was on a diet because that’s something you try and eventually stop doing. What I needed was an overall lifestyle change, and I’m happy to continue pursuing it.”

Feeling empowered, Sorrentino sought evolution by devoting 70 percent of his revamp to healthy nutrition options and the remainder to gym excursions. Connecting with Agigian, a former Marine, has resounded as a wonderful blessing, as he has learned proper ways to lift and has crafted regimens that complement not only his curiosity for exploring his body’s possibilities but also his self-belief’s depth. The latter almost lacked the steadfastness that has helped him to receive awards, as Sorrentino said “Absolutely not” when Agigian made mention of his possibly venturing into bodybuilding.

“Now, it’s an incredible passion of mine,” the eager pupil said. “During the rest of 2015, I just wanted to get a little better with each competition, and that’s only become more developed as this year has unfolded.”

His first first-place finish at the Big Cat Classic and every other test over the last year have given him cause to flash his megawatt smile and to side with those who eagerly anticipate defying time and naysayers, with the figurative hoisting of his spirit dovetailing with his literal lifting of weights.

“You could give up,” Sorrentino said of contemplating obstacles, “or you could ask yourself ‘Am I really going to let this weigh me down’? Answering that question with a ‘no’ is the way to go.” SPR

Contact Editor Joseph Myers at jmyers@southphillyreview.com or ext. 124. Comment at southphillyreview.com/sports/features.

Frank Sorrentino collected a trio of trophies during his Saturday trip to Allentown. Profile Photo by Tina Garceau and Performance shot provided by Frank Sorrentino

Frank Sorrentino collected a trio of trophies during his Saturday trip to Allentown.

Profile Photo by Tina Garceau

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