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Did you know I wanted to be an Open Bodybuilder?

How goals change and why I chose Men’s Physique!

When I first got into bodybuilding over 18 years ago, Ronnie Coleman was the reigning Mr Olympia. I idolised the likes of Jay Cutler and mass monsters such as Markus Rhul and Gunter Schlierkamp. I know some of you may not know who these guys are but when I first started training there was such excitement looking up to these guys and I wanted to be just like them!

When I first started to compete there wasn’t the options of classes that we have nowadays. There was bodybuilding and that was pretty much it. You had the choice of classic which was restricted to a height/weight formula or the open bodybuilding weighted categories. At the time I was never going to be able to get down to a classic weight so open bodybuilding it was! I competed from 2009 – 2015 with some small successes winning a couple of regional qualifiers and reaching a few British finals with various federations at the time. 5th was the best placing I ever received at any British but to me that was so disappointing as I’d started out with so much promise but just failed to deliver as the years went on. I could just never nail any condition.

Well after my final show in 2015 it all became a little clearer when I was diagnosed with kidney disease which explained why I could never get rid of the water in my lower half. So, it was time to call it a day and draw the curtain on my competition journey. I was so disappointed. I felt that I’d left so much unfinished and always said to myself that if I could have just won one British title then I’d have happily hung up the trunks and called it a day but there was always that niggle in the back of my brain that I couldn’t let go.

But now the goal was to try and make these failing kidneys last as long as possible. Nobody wants to undergo major surgery so it was a priority of mine to prolong this for as long as I could. I put an emphasis on health a bit more and backed off from training a little and all things bodybuilding related. But then in 2018 it was time up and the operating table was waiting for me.

The doctors advised me on the best recovery methods as they do but I wasn’t having any of it. I spent two weeks in hospital having my op and the day after I was discharged I went to the gym! Admittedly I only curled a couple of 5kg dumbbells and did a slow walk on the treadmill for 20 minutes but that was me back on the road to where I needed to be. At the start I had absolutely no ambitions of competing again whatsoever. I didn’t know how I was going to respond or recover to my transplant, was my new kidney going to work? Would I be able to gain muscle again or get into any kind of shape? Well that was my number 1 goal, to just get back into some kind of reasonable and respectable shape that would make me feel happy about myself.

Well fast forward 10 months and I was recovering extremely well and the possibility of actually competing again was seriously on the cards. But what class would I fit into now? Everything had changed so much since I’d last competed, so I took a good honest look at my physique to decide what category I would best fit into. Was it bodybuilding? Classic? No, it was to be Men’s Physique! I think this is still a mistake that a lot of people make when choosing their class to compete in and that is because they often choose the class that they want to compete rather than the class that they would fit into better and be more successful in.

I chose Men’s Physique for that very reason. There was no way I was going to carry the tissue that I previously had to be able to compete in bodybuilding but I’d kept a small waist and still had width to my shoulders so I thought I would fit into Men’s Physique perfectly. It turned out to be a pretty good choice too! In less than 2 years of my comeback, I’d won the British twice and became an IFBB Pro!

So it goes to show that when I was that skinny kid in the gym watching Jay Cutler videos just dreaming of becoming a pro one day, there’s more than one route to achieve your goals.

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