“Kaizen” is a Japanese term that I learned years ago at the University of Richmond in one of my business classes. It stuck with me so much that ten years later, I had the symbol tattooed on my leg. The term truly defines my passion for the gym. Truly cliché, but it is “you vs. you.” When I am working out, my focus is not on anything other than trying to be better today than I was yesterday.
I started working out in an effort to improve my basketball game as I was getting older, I had lost a step or two, and I figured that strength training would help me keep up with younger players. While I did not have a trainer, I started to get every fitness magazine to develop my own work out plans. As I became more interested in learning to craft my own plans, I started to purchase text books or any other piece of reference material regarding fitness. As a member at a Gold’s Gym, I began to befriend local competitors that introduced to the world of bodybuilding. Throughout my conversations and reading, one event continued to pique my interest– the Olympia.
At first my desire was simply to attend the Olympia. In 2010, my wife and I made the trip to Vegas to attend the Olympia. The trip was truly life changing as I was able to meet many of the people that I read about on monthly basis. This was also the first year of the Muscle and Fitness Model Search. As I watched Steve Cook win the trophy, I began to picture myself on stage, fueling a new desire to actually compete as opposed to just watching.
For the next two years, I was in the gym daily working towards what many would consider an impossible dream. As I continued my training, a new division, Physique, was created that I felt would be an ideal competition for me. A month out from the Olympia, I thought to myself, “It’s now or never,” and printed out the application for the M&F Model Search. Some lingering doubts still existed, and I carried it around with me for over a week. Finally, I completed it, and there was no turning back.
With over 60 competitors, many of them having competed for years, I was extremely intimidated. What made it easier was the camaraderie between many of the competitors backstage and the support of my wife in the crowd. As the competition narrowed from 60 to 16, and then to 5, I was stunned to find myself the last man standing. Leaving the stage I was met by many people that I had just competed against, and they were extremely supportive. Winning was a great feeling, but being acknowledged by your peers is truly humbling.
Since the Olympia, I have started to compete in the NPC Men’s Physique Division with the goal of earning a pro card. Having won two overall titles, I am now qualified to compete at the national level. The next step in this journey will be in May when I compete for my pro card.
Take advantage of every opportunity, you never truly know what you can accomplish until you step outside of your comfort zone!