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Morrisville man attempts world record, raises mental health awareness
Bucks County Courier Times - 7/2/2018
At noon Monday, Robert "Cozmo" Consulmagno, a Morrisville resident, will don a 40-pound vest at PEAC Health and Fitness in Ewing, New Jersey, and attempt to set a new world record for most standing ab wheel roll-outs. No one has ever attempted this feat while wearing an additional 40 pounds.
If Consulmagno succeeds, it will be his fourth world record.
Consulmagno's previous records, certified by Record Setters, include fastest time to perform 1,000 standing ab wheel roll-outs. He also attempted to break the world record for most standing ab wheel roll-outs at 524 repetitions in an hour - but when Guinness denied the record due to a minor camera angle error, Consulmagno proceeded to publicly break his own record a second time at 539 repetitions.
But Consulmagno says it's not all about him. He's trying to promote mental health awareness and support, particularly for men and military veterans.
Consulmagno, 45, says he spent his childhood facing domestic violence. Immediately after his graduation from Dickinson High School in Jersey City, he joined the Marine Corps.
Although he never saw combat in the Marine Corps, Consulmagno said his experiences with hazing, combined with the trauma of his childhood, led to a diagnosis of PTSD alongside his pre-existing bipolar disorder, which was simultaneously identified.
It was this opponent - mental illness - that threatened to land a knockout punch on Consulmagno.
"Everybody thinks mental health is weak," he said. "It's not. I've been hospitalized for mental health. It's real."
Consulmagno said "mental health doesn't get the exposure that it needs because we live in a society where we judge a book by its cover. I know a lot of guys who are really tough, and they can fight, but they're afraid to show weakness."
Consulmagno said his mental health issues and social struggles made him unemployable, so he decided to dedicate himself full-time to raising mental health awareness - but he was unsure of where to begin.
"I'm not a major celebrity," Consulmagno said. "It's not like I can just be on TV."
Drawing inspiration from his great-grandfather, boxing Hall of Famer Michael Consulmagno (aka Mickey Taylor), Consulmagno resolved to accomplish physical feats that would force people to pay attention. Three world records and a jiu-jitsu championship later, with another attempt scheduled for Monday, Consulmagno has an agent, a website, and multiple features in both TV and print news.
Consulmagno has been training for Monday's challenge for approximately two hours daily for the past four years. Describing his usual routine, Consulmagno quipped, "Imagine trying to sprint with dumbbells."
"He is here every day, very consistently, very focused, trying hard to prepare both physically and mentally," said Doug Steinly, manager of PEAC Health and Fitness.
This past week, Consulmagno practiced the ab roll-outs while wearing the 40-pound vest he'll don on Monday; the week prior, he did pull ups with the vest; before that, he wore the vest everywhere for a month to build not only strength, but also endurance. Regarding the ab wheel roll-outs, Consulmagno said, "This exercise is like part of my central nervous system now."
Consulmagno said he plans to wear the weighted vest because no one has attempted to break the ab wheel roll-outs record with a weighted vest before.
Now, thanks to his self-created platform, Consulmagno's inbox is often bursting with messages from others who are struggling with mental illness. While he's glad to encourage them, Consulmagno always urges people to reach out to a doctor or other professional.
To those who think they might be battling mental illness, Consulmagno's advice is straightforward: "Look in the mirror. Ask yourself, ?Am I lying to myself?' They know there's a problem, but then they try to rescind some of it because they still feel like, ?Maybe I'm just having a bad day.' If you're waking up and you're having these emotions, these ups and downs, you can't lie to yourself."
Not everyone's coping mechanisms for mental illness are the same. While Consulmagno notes that "I would never tell somebody not to take medication," he said he found that the side effects outweighed any perceivable benefits for him.
Today, Consulmagno said, "Sports is my medication."
But as he ages, Consulmagno is increasingly aware that his athletic ability will diminish.
Two months ago, when he wasn't at the gym, Consulmagno also found solace in learning the guitar. Someday, he thinks he might cope with a microphone rather than a punching bag. One can almost hear him shrug when he says, "It can't be any harder than trying to set a world record."