Getting swole with ‘soyboy’
UB alum, bodybuilder Cole Hastings hopes to turn fitness passion into career
When people think of bodybuilders, most imagine spray tans, giant muscles and vain attitudes.
But Cole Hastings wants to move away from the “meathead” stereotype.
Cole Hastings, a ‘19 alum, is hoping to turn his passion for bodybuilding and veganism into a career. The Buffalo native has established a personal training service through individual coaching, plant-based meal plans and personalized workout routines on his website. He has developed a following on social media with 1,580 YouTube subscribers and an Instagram with 19,000 followers.
Hastings began his YouTube channel in 2017 to document his own development with bodybuilding. He transitioned to building muscle through veganism in 2018 and his current videos are designed to help others explore the vegan-bodybuilder lifestyle.
His goal: to educate people on building muscle on a vegan diet.
“[Transitioning] to veganism was tough at first because I didn’t know how to formulate meals. It’s difficult for everyone at the start and you usually just have to learn from experience,” Hastings said. “Vegan food is less calorically dense. I had to learn how to eat more and more frequently, but still choose healthy options.”
Hastings, who began bodybuilding in high school, said that his parents influenced his passion for health and fitness. His parents encouraged him to exercise and maintain a healthy diet.
“My dad would run every week and my mom pushed a healthy diet,” Hastings said. “This is what made the [transition] to being vegan easier. It was a combination of my mom and the research I had done about vegan athletes and what it could do to my body.”
Hasting recalls feeling socially isolated and being teased by his friends because of his veganism.
“They used to say stuff like I could only eat lettuce and grass and how I’m a hippie now,” Hastings said. “Being vegan has become way more mainstream now though. I don’t have that much trouble with people, or even ordering food in restaurants because of all the new options.”
But Hasting says that any short-term setbacks are worth the significant changes he felt after beginning a vegan diet. He credits his diet for his newfound physical health.
“I immediately felt a big change in endurance. My whole cardiovascular health improved, and I was able to run much longer than before,” Hasting said. “I used to get sick pretty often, but now I only get sick around once a year. I also felt more mentally balanced and clear-headed.”
Now, he structures each program around individual customers after collecting information on their fitness goals and body composition. His personalized workout plans are $49 and include over 30 exercise tutorials and a weekly one-on-one session.
The personalized vegan meal plan is $75 and includes weekly meal plans, grocery lists and one-on-one sessions. Hasting also offers one-on-one coaching, which is a combination of the workout routines and meal plans, and costs between $149 and $299 depending on the desired timeframe.
His YouTube channel includes videos of his workout routines and exercises, which explain the specific techniques for certain muscle groups. He also has videos that explore his own vegan diet like, “An Entire Week of Vegan Bodybuilding Meals in One Video,” which breaks down meal components.
But he isn’t just in it for the money or the views, he enjoys helping people achieve their fitness goals.
Caleb Lee, a Buffalo native and childhood friend, has known Hastings since the seventh grade and noticed how Hastings’ training service changed him.
“You can tell he’s super passionate about it,” Lee said. “He’s spent countless hours editing, creating content, working out and making meals. He has a sense of purpose. He just really cares [about health and fitness] and is trying to make a difference, and I think the message he’s trying to send out is really important.”
Samantha Vargas is the senior features editor and can be reached at Samantha.Vargas@UBSpectrum.com and on Twitter at @SamMarieVargas.