Health and fitness have not always been part of my life before I became a Beaufort Personal Trainer, as a kid I never played any sports and while my parents ate better than most of the population, it still was not great (Don’t get me started on what my grandparents fed me!). What changed was that about 10 years ago, my parents decided to start eating healthier and buying organic foods, and while I complained because I could no longer have Honey Bunches of Oats in the morning, I started feeling better and my grades in school went up. I was interested in why I was feeling better and had better grades, so being the nerd I am and having Google at my finger tips I started doing my own research. After reading tons of articles, I became obsessed with the health benefits of tea and really focused on learning more about the chemical found in green tea, EGCG. I was amazed at the research showing the anti-cancer and heart health benefits from green tea as well as the ability to increase fat burning (because every teenage boy wants that six pack). After tea, I became interested in holistic medicine and how different plants had medical properties. I bought a huge book on medicinal herbs and started learning as much as I could about herbal medicine.
Two years later, I was entering high school and since I was coming from a small private school (graduating class of 21 students) to a large public school. Since I did not know anyone in the new school, my parents made me sign up for cross country in the fall semester. Now before cross country, the most exercise I did was play around with my dad’s weight set and trying to teach myself martial arts. So when I went to the first day of summer practice and ran three miles and lifted, it was a huge shock to my system. But I liked it and was hooked on exercise. Soon after came my interest in sports nutrition to help me improve my performance, especially the post workout window to increase protein synthesis. I also got my first exercise physiology lessons from my cross country coach when he talked about different muscle fiber types and mitochondrial density, which amazed me!
Fast forward two more years, it was the end of my sophomore year of track season. I was burned out, over trained and on the verge of injury, sick, had no self-esteem, and was tired of people calling me skinny. So I did something about it, I quit distance running and took up weightlifting. I wanted to be big, strong, fast, and powerful not slow and weak like I was. After three months of lifting, I gained over 10 lbs of muscle and dropped to sub 10% body fat. But I was not satisfied and wanted to look like the fitness model Julien Greaux. Around this time was when I spent (aka wasted) a ton of money on supplements that were supposed to help with building muscle. Since the supplements were not giving me the results I wanted, I took a hard look at my diet and my training and compared it to how top strength coaches, powerlifters, and bodybuilders were training and started to make changes. The more I learned on my own, the better results I got so I kept on reading. I was also inspired by many of these people, and decided that I wanted to go into fitness modeling one day to inspire others to get into health and fitness.
Later that year, I was looking at colleges and had no idea what I wanted to do at first, I didn’t think to be a Beaufort Personal Trainer on the spot and, all I knew is that I wanted to help people. Then I found the major called exercise science. Bingo! I knew right away what I was going to be majoring in! I was already obsessed with learning about exercise and nutrition and I helped a ton of my friends out with working out and dieting so why not do it for a living? And off to Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania I went! I decided not to compete in track anymore in college and focus on powerlifting and bodybuilding since I was burned out from running in circles and having permanent shin splints.
Funny thing about college though, isn’t that the place where you go to learn all of this information that you do not know and become super smart? I thought I was going to learn a ton of new information to help me out my freshman year, but I got stuck in a bunch of worthless general education classes designed to make you a more “well-rounded person.” What about sophomore year? Nope, didn’t learn much. Junior or senior year? Nope, not from classes at least. Pretty much everything I learned was not going to apply to me in strength and conditioning/personal training and anything that was relevant I already learned from books I owned or from articles I read.
However, college did allow me to become the strength and conditioning coach for the Bloomsburg University Women’s Basketball team and work as a personal trainer in the Bloomsburg University Recreation Center. I also did a strength and conditioning internship at Bucknell University with Jerry Shreck the last semester of my senior year. These experiences really expanded my knowledge of strength and conditioning! I also sucked it up and decided it was time to start my fitness modeling career.
For those of you that do not follow bodybuilding, there is a new category called men’s physique which wants the fitness cover model look, not the Incredible Hulk look. I signed up for my first men’s physique competition with a natural organization and did a photo shoot with an armature photographer the day after. I fell in love with competing and signed up for another competition later that year where I took seconds place. Then I did a professional photo shoot with my girlfriend in Baltimore. Recently, I took third place at the NPC Delaware Open and qualified for Nationals!
That’s my story in a nutshell. I got started learning and working out fairly young and have never stopped since then. Now I am preparing for my next competition which will be in May in Charleston, SC!