COLUMBIA – Jimmy Herrman lies on his back, face red, struggling against the weight of the 135-pound bar above him. He has already lifted it 14 times. He exhales as he pushes the bar above his chest and drops it into its slot with an loud clank, signaling his triumph to everyone else in the weight room.
His teammates on the Columbia College men's soccer team call him “The Body,” as in: Jimmy “The Body” Herrman.
The nickname might seem unusual for the 5-foot-8, 155-pound Herrman, but size isn't the predominant factor. There's just something about how he carries himself and his very toned frame. Herrman looks like he could show up on a shopping bag from American Eagle or a Hanes underwear package.
“He is the most Calvin Klein-looking guy on the team,” junior Brian Eike said.
There is dispute over the birth of the nickname. Junior Parker Rawdon said Hermann dubbed himself “The Body,” while Eike said former teammate Ilya Grin was the first to use it.
Herrman, a senior midfielder who is a frequent substitute player for the Cougars, said there are mythological origins to his nickname.
“It’s just a legend,” Herrman said with a laugh. “Legends never die.”
And according to this epic saga, Herrman, a Kansas City native, was once scrawny as a freshman before deciding to change his physique.
Herrman started working out the second semester of his freshmen year, mainly for soccer, then to socialize with his teammates and finally to improve his physical appearance. He returned his sophomore season muscular and became “The Body.”
“Once I start, why should I stop?” Herrman said.
Herrman attributes his muscular build to “good genes” and claims he does not work out more frequently than most people.
Herrman’s routine usually consists of three sets of exercises, including pull-ups, incline presses and various exercises with machines and free weights. The number of repetitions decreases by three with each successive set.
“You have to get the full-body workout,” Herrman said. “You got to sculpt.”
Before “The Body,” Herrman had other nicknames, including "Superstar," and his teammates continue to add new ones. When Herrman asked sophomore Dan Rapp to list a couple, Rapp responded with “Meathead.”
Sophomore Nikola Velickovic has another.
“We call him 'The Princess,'” he said.
His teammates say Herrman will check his body's appearance or how his hair looks whenever he has the chance.
“He’s high maintenance for a guy for sure,” Rawdon said. “He’s always looking in the mirror.”
Eike, Herrman’s former roommate, said Herrman spent substantial time in front of the mirror in their room last year.
“He was better friends with the mirror than with me,” he said.
Herrman also does not like to take too many days off from working out. Herrman’s girlfriend, Whitney Buckman, said when he visits her in Monroe City, he becomes anxious if he goes a few days away from the gym.
But Buckman said she understands Herrman’s anxiety because she also lives an active lifestyle.
“I’m a sporty, athletic kind of person too,” she said.
Herrman is so pleased with his body, he has no reservations about brandishing it. According to his teammates, Herrman is always the first to remove his shirt after a game, and in some instances, he will be topless before the game over.
In an overtime game last year, Velickovic scored to earn a Cougars victory, giving Herrman a perfect opportunity.
“Before the ball went in,” Rawdon said, “I’m pretty sure Jimmy’s shirt was off.”
Despite his teammates’ teasing, Herrman said Buckman appreciates the effort he puts into his appearance.
“She loves it,” he said. “What girl doesn’t?”
And Buckman agrees.
“Oh, you know,” she said joking, “I don’t mind.”