It started with a simple question: What does Ian Beckles do all day? From time to time, we at tbt* write about the former Buccaneers guard — his gig co-hosting the Ron and Ian show on WDAE 620-AM, his legendary Super Bowl parties, his charity events, his magazine, his AS-I-B ("A Star Is Born") clothing company and his BeFly jewelry line. After awhile, we started wondering: Is Beckles, 42, as much of a Renaissance man as he seems? And if so, what does his typical workday look like? For 12 hours last Thursday, we tried to keep up. — Dalia Colón email@example.com
5 a.m. Culbreath Isles, South Tampa
Beckles wakes up. "I've never been a big sleeper," he says. "Even on the weekend, I'm up at 6 a.m."
6 a.m. Soho Cycling Studio, West Kennedy Boulevard
Beckles climbs onto a stationary bike on a center platform of the studio, where he teaches Tuesdays and Thursdays. A certified instructor, he's been spinning since '97, long before spinning was cool.
"I teach spinning to stay in shape," says the 6-foot-1, 295-pound Beckles, who exercises seven days a week. "You hear stories of ex-athletes that are laying on the couch, and that's not good."
He cues the first song on his playlist, Michael Jackson's Off the Wall, and begins leading a predawn workout for 14 sleepy-eyed clients — including his wife, Dayle Urquhart, and studio owner Michelle Burrell, wife of Rays designated hitter Pat Burrell.
"Make sure you're pushing yourself," Beckles instructs as sweat drips from his AS-I-B baseball cap. As the music gets amped — a mix of Linkin Park, Jay-Z and Rick James created by one of his radio station buddies — so does Beckles. "Get the blood flowing!" he says. "Make it burn! ... We're almost there. ... Finish strong!"
The bikes grind to a halt, but Beckles isn't done. As the sun rises and traffic starts to pick up outside, he leads the group in 10 minutes of mat work.
"I'm tired, trust me. I'm working hard," Beckles admits later. "You've got to find ways to hide the fact that you're tired. 'Cause back when you're playing ball, you don't want to show that you're tired."
After class, a woman approaches Beckles about an internship for her daughter at Beckles's monthly lifestyle magazine, What's Hot Tampa Bay (formerly AS-I-B, the magazine). Another woman inquires about ad rates.
This is how life goes when you're Ian Beckles. You dabble in a lot of projects, and you must be ready to talk about any one of them at any time. Never mind that it's 7 a.m. Never mind that you're drenched in sweat.
But Beckles, ever eager to promote his endeavors, switches gears easily. If he were a car, he'd be an automatic.
7:44 a.m. Real Dill Delicatessen, South West shore Boulevard
After returning home for a quick shower and change of clothes — among his fresh threads is a BeFly pinkie ring — Beckles enters his favorite breakfast spot. It's a tiny 10-seater deli where owner and head chef Eric Cornwell lets him order off the menu.
"Do you want what you had yesterday, Ian?" Cornwell asks.
"Yeah, that's good," Beckles says. "Throw some avocado on there, would you?"
While Cornwell whips up an egg-white omelet with veggies, Beckles buys a St. Petersburg Times from the machine in the parking lot. Show prep.
He peruses the newspaper for topics to discuss on his radio show, which he co-hosts weekdays from 9 a.m. to noon with radio veteran Ron Diaz. Although Beckles admits there's more to broadcasting than spouting off at the mouth, he doesn't obsess over it.
"We talk about young ladies and music and food — things that dudes like to talk about," Beckles says. "It's pretty easy."
Cornwell brings out Beckles's omelet, along with coffee.
"I'm going to feature this restaurant in the next magazine," Beckles says matter-of-factly, shifting gears from breakfast eater to magazine publisher. "A hidden star."
From behind the counter, Cornwell mentions a charity event. It's a fishing tournament. Is Beckles interested in a sponsorship?
"We can talk about it," Beckles says.
8:24 a.m. Clear Channel Communications, West Gandy Boulevard
"Now you're going to find out why it's hard as hell to keep my weight down," Beckles says, walking into the WDAE studio. On the counter are trays of hot dogs and sliders from Lee Roy Selmon's, a sponsor of the Ron and Ian show. But Beckles came prepared to stave off hunger, equipped with a bag of Crystal Light packets and a humongous pickle from the Real Dill.
He speaks briefly with the show's producer about Diaz's absence that day, but doesn't sweat it. "There's plenty to talk about," he says easily. If he runs out of topics, "I'll just start talking about this pickle or something."
At 8:59 a.m., Beckles strolls into the booth and affixes headphones over his baseball cap.
"Happy chilly Thursday, everybody," he says into the microphone, later adding that he feels sorry for football players. Practicing in the cold is miserable.
As promised, there is plenty to talk about, starting with now ex-University of South Florida football coach Jim Leavitt.
"I'm not going to let a coach slap me in my face, that's for sure," Beckles says. "If Jim Leavitt did it, he's got to go. Period." From there Beckles goes on tangents, making the bantering without a co-host look easier than it probably is. A listener surfing the radio dial might have heard something like this:
• "Marisa Tomei is hot."
• "Count Chocula was a brotha. Frankenberry, I think he was Irish because he was pink."
• "Getting a good parking spot's like getting the big piece of chicken."
And so on, for three hours.
• "You're going to hell if you're throwing acid bombs at homeless people."
• "Cereal, no hot sauce. Other than that, you can put hot sauce on anything."
Beckles manages to field calls with enthusiasm, work in a few What's Hot Tampa Bay references and expertly mix Crystal Light all while the red "on air" light glows. During a commercial break, he yawns.
"I've got to stretch my old legs," he says.
12:08 p.m. Ciccio's California Cuisine, South Howard Avenue
Beckles cruises his black BMW 750 Li through South Tampa and stops at the busy SoHo eatery to pick up takeout: tilapia with spinach and broccoli on the side.
He's not one of those ex-athletes who gives a fake name or his wife's cell number when he orders. But doesn't Beckles get recognized when he's out and about?
"Sometimes. Not too much," Beckles says. "I'm really not that guy."
12:29 p.m. What's Hot Tampa Bay offices, Sterling Avenue
Beckles immediately turns on the television to ESPN in the suite's reception area — a chic space with black walls and red chairs. He eats lunch at his desk in the office he shares with his wife. It's a modest room decorated with a few posters and autographed footballs. While Beckles reviews pictures from a recent magazine photo shoot, his wife, dressed in jeans an a yellow AS-I-B sweatshirt, works on invoices and waxes poetic about her favorite ice-cream joints. Beckles guesses he eats ice cream six times a year.
After lunch, Kevin Kelii from 813area.com stops by to discuss an events calendar for Beckles' whatshottampabay.com. When Kelii starts talking Web stuff, Beckles says, "I have a Web guy, Bernie. He's going to be here soon. I really know nothing about it. That's why he's around."
So Kelii changes the subject. Does Beckles have tickets for this year's Super Bowl?
"Not I," Beckles says. "I'm getting too old for that stuff. It's too fast for me now." Instead, What's Hot Tampa Bay will host a party for the public at Channelside Cinemas.
You might have heard Beckles mention it on the show.
2:04 p.m. Tampa Artist Emporium, Bay to Bay Boulevard
Beckles meets up with two video producers. They'll shoot footage of the emporium, where Beckles's BeFly jewelry is for sale, for his Web site.
Beckles doesn't profess to be an expert in broadcasting or publishing or jewelry. "I never told anybody I know anything," he says, "so I'm all right."
While the crew is filming, Beckles gets an idea. Would gallery director Shelby Boggs like a What's Hot Tampa Bay magazine rack for her shop?
Sure, Boggs says.
Beckles heads for the door. "I have one in my car," he says. And within 60 seconds, it's in the store.
3:09 p.m. Powerhouse Gym, East Kennedy Boulevard
It's the second of three gyms Beckles will visit today, but this time he's not working out. Beckles is armed with a Canon camera to shoot volunteers who will demonstrate fitness moves for a Buns and Guns article in the February magazine.
"I'm not a professional," Beckles notes, slurping a chocolate peanut-butter protein shake from the gym's smoothie bar.
Before heading out, Beckles checks the gym's display of AS-I-B merchandise and its rack of What's Hot Tampa Bay magazines. Yesterday, there had been a fat stack of magazines. Today it's almost empty. Excellent.
5:01 p.m. Fight Factory, West Spruce Street
Gym No. 3.
Beckles' 13-year-old son, Marques, plays right guard and nose tackle at the YMCA. (He and Urquhart also have two daughters, Zayna, 15, and Payton, 12.) Beckles isn't sure if Marques hopes to follow in his footsteps as a professional ballplayer.
"I never asked him," Beckles says. But Marques does want an edge, so Beckles has arranged for father-son workouts twice a week with trainer Yo Murphy, a former NFL player and current coach of Tampa's Lingerie Football League team.
When the session ends, Beckles heads home to watch the BCS National Championship Game before hitting the sack around 11 p.m. He might "let myself have one drink" as he enjoys a dinner of fish and vegetables.
He'll probably put hot sauce on the fish. Because other than cereal, you can put hot sauce on anything.