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Top fitness expert Aninion hopes to make Volcanoes return

By Ivan Saldajeno

MAKATI--We may know Arnold Aninion as one of today's top fitness experts, turning Raymond Gutierrez into a hunk just like his twin brother Richard.

But once upon a time, he was in the gridiron manning the wings for the Philippine Volcanoes, especially during the start of their success during the early 2010's.

Aninion would admit on Tuesday that he made the shift from the rugby field to the gym because he wants what is best for his family.

"For me, it was all about being able to look at the family. Being a Philippine Volcano is very demanding physically. [The Philipine rugby scene is] still relatively pro-am. I want to develop as fast as I wanted to. I needed to evolve myself, respond, and be in a position where I can give a light to my kids," Aninion told some reporters.

However, he also admitted that the shift was somehow not planned.

"To be honest, by accident, I moved to an area where I love doing. I started working with many individuals for literally nothing, just helping them lose weight," Aninion continued.

Now, from a former national team member looking for a new career path, Aninion has become one of today's most recognizable faces in fitness.

"It's a real privilege. I'm still honored to do what I do now. It's a blessing," he further said.

Actress Aubrey Miles agreed and told Aninion, "And you love it."

On Tuesday at the Buffalo Wild Wings Glorietta Branch, Miles and Aninion were introduced as the new mentors of R U Tough Enough, a sports and fitness-based competition where 10 people vie for PHP250,000 and the title "Toughest Pinoy".

This year's edition, which will happen on Oct. 12, will be radically different as Aninion will coach five men while Miles will handle five females as the contestants battle for all the marbles and to prove that their gender is tougher than the other.

Meanwhile, despite being busy becoming a fitness expert among the stars, Aninion expressed his willingness to give rugby another try.

"I've always wanted to return. I've always got the itch to go back and play. When I watch them play, I'm like, 'Man! I wanna be there.' I'm always ready," he specifically said his readiness for a Volcanoes callup.

Also, he expressed his likeness of how the Volcanoes have become from virtual unknowns to a Southeast Asian powerhouse.

"This year, the Philippine Volcanoes have so much talent, so I know they're gonna overcome the challenge," Aninion continued. "I was talking to Jakey [Letts] a couple of months back, and I said that there are so many positive signs. They're gonna do well."

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno