A single thought, planted as a seed; watered, nurtured, taken care of, and after years and years of hard work and dedication, it blooms into a beautiful masterpiece. When Michael Angelo sculpted the famous statue of David, it took him over 3 years. Daily chiseling away at his masterpiece, looking to perfect this work of art. This is no different than what these bodybuilders and physique athletes have been working on. Their physiques have been a lifelong work of art; many have been sculpting them for over 30 years!
These athletes all come from different parts of the world and different backgrounds in life. All enduring through blood, sweat, tears and major sacrifices, they will display their masterpieces on June 4th, 2016 in Toronto. These modern day sculptors use their body as a block of marble, and the weights and food as their chisel and hammer.
When we see an athlete on stage, we see a nice smile and a flawless physique that brings an audience to a jaw dropping “aw.” But these athletes all have a special story, from supporting families, to nearly career ending injuries, we don’t know the true extent of the physical and mental exertion these athletes go through. I had the privilege of interviewing many of them on their road to the stage at the Toronto Pro Show. Let’s take a look inside the mind of many of these champions.
A native of Marin County, California, Jon will be coming to Toronto for his 2nd professional show to date. It’s amazing to think that this man has only done 5 bodybuilding shows EVER. After exchanging words with him, one can see that Jon is among the toughest men on this earth. He has a “do or die” mentality that not many individuals who roam this planet can comprehend.
While many see bodybuilding as one of the toughest sports out there, he sees it as a blessing and has never been happier in his life. Jon began his career as a Professional Strongman, and turned professional in the 2nd strongman show he did. Jon competed as a Strongman for many years, but suffered a few major injuries along the way. His new passion for bodybuilding allows him to train around his injuries and still be able to develop his physique to its maximum potential. It was a little bit of a tough adjustment going from heavy lifting all the time, to contracting the muscle and fully exhausting it, but Jon is looking to perfect this skill.
Jon has endured many adversities in his career. From a strongman wrestling match resulting in a full ACL, MCL and meniscus tear all at once, to needing surgery after a back injury from doing an 825 lb ascending deadlift, this man has experienced some serious pain. However, this does not deter him whatsoever from pursuing his passion for physical fitness. After being a Strongman, Jon moved onto becoming a professional wrestler in Japan, where he suffered a full bicep tear in the middle of a fight on the 3rd minute. Despite this, he continued the fight and won in 15 minutes! When I asked Jon what his drive was to push himself to such an intense level, his answer was: “they don’t hire people who quit.”
Jon has made some huge changes for this show as he is looking to come in the best shape of his life. He slimmed down his midsection by having smaller meals more frequently, and is looking to come in at 265 lbs. of aesthetically sculpted muscle for the Toronto Pro Show. Jon picked the Toronto Pro show as he admires and has great respect for Ron Hache. Ron is one of the best respected promoters in the bodybuilding industry, and Jon really values this. Jon goes all in to everything he does, and this man plans to go to the top with the goal of competing at the Olympia stage in fewer than 10 shows. With the support of his wife Teri, his daughters Taylor, Jayden and Kelly, I have no doubt this man will be a huge threat at this show!
John is one of the most laborious warriors that I have ever spoken with. John is the definition of what a successful gentleman in bodybuilding should be. He never gives up, and has proven this to all of us as he fought years and years to earn his pro card despite having had some health issues that would end many individuals career and psyche. John always approaches things from a methodical point of view in order to improve, and has taught all of us that you can be a great bodybuilder, have a successful business doing what you love, and still being a very caring father and husband all at once!
Juan: Welcome back to the OPA newsletter John! We are all looking forward to seeing you on stage at the Toronto Pro Show as a professional. What do you feel have been your biggest improvements since The Arnold occurred and how did you do them?
John: Well, my conditioning was right where I wanted it to be, it was better than I expected actually. When Eduardo Correa tells you: “John, you are shredded”, you know that you are! I know that I am not gifted with a Flex Wheeler structure, so I have really emphasized improving my back training and shoulder training. The improvements to these areas have really helped my physique, and everything is flowing much better now, with the same conditioning.
Juan: These changes are definitely pretty noticeable John! With so many pro shows under your belt in a short amount of time, has the experience of competing as a professional bodybuilder been what you were expecting before turning professional?
John: Well, there is less pressure for sure. When I was an amateur, I had so many second places, that it really felt like failures because I didn’t win. That was not healthy for my mental state, but I never let it get me down for very long. I just kept trying to improve year after year. As a pro, you are up against the best, so 2nd place is pretty darn good! At the end of the show though, I still go back and try to put together a plan to get better (along with enjoying a lot of down time with the family). I am definitely enjoying being a pro much more than I enjoyed being an amateur, and it is awesome to be able to take my wife and kids all over the world.
Juan: I am glad you are really enjoying this unbelievable experience. What is your biggest motivation to keep improving and coming in better and better each show?
John: I know that I can’t do this forever, so I am just doing my best with the time I have left in this sport. I have really focused on the shape of my body and my health. It is paying off now, and it has allowed me to compete into my third decade now. I am a fierce competitor at heart, I like to win and do my best, but my main priority is my family, so I am very much into improving my father and husband skills more than anything.
Juan: What do you feel makes you stand out from your other fellow competitors for this show, and do you feel like you will move to the open category eventually from the 212?
John: I don’t know who is in it so I can’t say. I do believe my level of mass, balance, and conditioning, paired with my improved shape, will make me a threat on stage. I absolutely will compete in the open category, it is actually very hard for me to get down to 212. I am in shape in the low 220's, but I love the 212 class because I stay lighter in the offseason, which I think is a healthier approach in the long run. I still want to do a few opens though!
Juan: I bet making the 212 weight class is tough, what advice would you give competitors trying to cut down to make a weight class in order to come in looking their best for the show?
John: Well, it can be a very dangerous practice. I haven't used a diuretic since the 2002 nationals, so I advise people to sweat out extra water. It is much easier to replace it and your electrolytes won’t be out of whack.
Juan: Thank you very much for your time John, it is very motivating seeing how you carefully re-evaluate your methods according to your physique to keep improving and get an edge over your competition. We’re all looking forward to seeing you at the biggest bodybuilding show in Canada!
Day in and day out, year after year, consistency is the key that leads to success. Meal prepping, training and improving herself has been a part of Mica’s life for over fifteen years. For these fifteen years, she did it with the sole purpose of being better than she was yesterday. Mica never had a desire to compete or display her physique in public as one of the best in the world; she truly did it for the love and personal satisfaction of it. When Mica was 42, she decided to try doing a competition that her former coach Mike Davies’s encouraged her to, and since that moment she was hooked!
Mica is the definition of a hardworking, self-made woman. She is a single mother of 2 young boys, Jack and Gavin, and works in the commercial construction market where she travels throughout six states on a regular basis. No matter how much she has on her plate, she says, “Whether I’m competing or not, I remain on a meal plan throughout the year and pack my food wherever I go. No telling what I’ll pull out of my purse while I’m on the go.”
I had the pleasure of interviewing Mica and hearing firsthand how her experience with professional physique competitions has been.
Juan: Thanks for joining us for the OPA newsletter today Mica, it is a great pleasure to be able to chat with you. Tell us about how your first preparation went for a competition.
Mica: Mike Davies suggested I enter in the physique division of a local bodybuilding show that was occurring at the time. At the same time, I found a lump in my breast, I didn’t say a word to anybody, not even my husband, but had to wait two weeks for an MRI. To keep my mind off the situation, I decided to go for it and registered for the show. I had two weeks to prepare and learn how to pose. My conditioning was already on point, so all there was left to do was dry out and learn how do quarter turns and mandatory poses….in just two short weeks. I asked myself “What was I thinking?!” With Mike’s help, I won the show against eleven other girls that had been competing for several years. I was in shock. I had only ever been to one show, and had no idea what it even meant when I was placed in the middle up on stage. When I went back to the dressing area, I found a message from Mike that read “F**K YEAH!” from this moment on I was hooked! From there, we went straight to the national stage that summer, where I placed 3rd at Masters Nationals and 3rd at North Americans. That fall, I competed in the Ohio State Championships and placed 1st, which paid for my entry for the Arnold Sports Festival. It was the first year they included amateur women’s physique. I took 1st in this show, where I won my pro card at the North Americans 2014.
Juan: Wow, what an incredible journey Mica! What advice would you give an up-and-coming competitor who wants to get to your level of competition?
Mica: With this sport, it has to be a way of life. It’s not a twelve or sixteen or even a twenty week diet, it’s a year round commitment. If you’re not willing to do the work in and out of the gym, then you’ve already failed. With that being said, I think it’s equally important to maintain a sense of balance in my life. I take cheat meals, I eat birthday cake with my boys, I enjoy life while maintaining a fit and healthy lifestyle year round.
Juan: This is some great advice for anyone to hear. How has this preparation for the Toronto Pro Show been different from your other ones?
Mica: I am currently working with Jermichael Pratt (1 Fit Joker), and this has been my best preparation to date. Jay is a trainer and show promoter based in Detroit, MI. We have been great friends for years, and we have worked more as a team on my diet. I am very attentive to the way my body responds to food, and Jay knows me well enough to know that I’m just not complaining if I ask for something different or make suggestions. I had a great “off” season, and really focused on the areas where I was lacking. That combined with Jay’s meal plan, is helping me bring my best package to the Toronto Pro Show.
Juan: It will be very exciting to see the physique you will bring to the stage in Toronto! If you could change one thing, what would you change about the women's physique division?
Mica: I would love to see two height classes on the pro stage, and of course, the division standards followed with judging based on those standards.
Juan: This would definitely make the competition a lot fiercer! Is there someone who motivates you to keep working as hard as you do or is there someone who have you always looked up to?
Mica: I look up to some of the women in my life that make great things happen on a daily basis. The working moms that juggle children and competing, and still maintain a life outside the gym. My best friend has three boys and works as a personal trainer. Two of her boys are very involved in travel sports and one has Autism. She’s constantly on the go with games or therapy and still finds time for all of her family’s birthday parties and special events…..between all this she also makes time to get her training and meal preparation in. She doesn’t know it, but she’s my hero.
Juan: Thank you very much Mica and we all really look forward to you rocking that stage!
A local gladiator on his home turf, preparing for battle against the other warriors. Zane is ready to defend his title against the many other gladiators coming to take what’s his. Zane Watson was the 212 champ last year at the Toronto Pro Show as he stood on stage victorious over the many other amazing bodybuilders. A native from Hamilton, Ontario, Zane turned pro very young and has had great success in bodybuilding so far. Let’s see what this champion has to say about coming back to claim his throne.
Juan: Thank you for joining us Zane, we’re all really excited about seeing you on stage this year. How does the pressure of defending your title affect your daily life and training?
Zane: I never looked at this preparation as defending a title. I try my hardest for any goal I have set to accomplish, whether it’s bodybuilding or life in general.
Juan: How do you feel your preparations have evolved throughout the years in terms of training and dieting?
Zane: Over the years I have become very in tune with my body, knowing what works and what doesn't, you only have to look your best one day and I feel I am getting very close to bringing my best package.
Juan: This will be very exciting to see! What has been your biggest challenge this preparation and how have you dealt with it?
Zane: My biggest challenge, though my biggest strength as well, would have to be my weight. I have to come a long way to reach that 212 lb. weigh in.
Juan: What are your future plans this year in bodybuilding and where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Zane: My future plans this year would depend on my placing at the Toronto Pro Show. If I qualify for the Olympia again, I will be sure to compete in Las Vegas. If not, I will hit the drawing board and possibly try to qualify after the Olympia, giving me a whole year to prepare for the Olympia.
Juan: This sounds like a great plan! What do you feel are traits that make a successful bodybuilder?
Zane: A successful bodybuilder is a healthy one, with no injuries and persistence.
Juan: What is your most memorable moment competing with the OPA?
Zane: I’ve only competed twice within the OPA, winning both shows gave me a clear indication that I could go somewhere in the sport.
Juan: Do you have a full time job and if so do you find it difficult to balance out with bodybuilding?
Zane: I have 3 full time jobs and a 2 year old son, so time is not an excuse for anyone. MAKE A PLAN, WORK THE PLAN.
As young kids, we are told that we can be anything we want to be. As children, we dream and think of all the amazing things we will do in life and block out the hard work and obstacles that we will face to get there, all we see is the final product. As we get older, we start realizing that things weren’t quite as easy as we imagined, and many individuals give up on their dreams and live a mediocre lifestyle; but not this individual.
Greg started training at the age of 10 years old, being inspired by watching a young teenage boy on television doing a bodybuilding contest. He knew from this moment on what he wanted to do. Greg entered his first bodybuilding show at just age 17, where he won, and set a national record in powerlifting at the same age, this kid knew he was destined for greatness. Turning pro in 2012, Greg Doucette has displayed an amazing physique on the pro stage, and he will be joining us at the Toronto Pro Show this year where he will battle it out against many of the world’s greatest bodybuilders. I had the pleasure of interviewing him and asking him a few questions about this preparation
Juan: Thank you for answering a few questions for all of our OPA readers Greg! You are a huge name in Canadian bodybuilding, is there something you’ve been able to discover about yourself during this preparation? And, what has been your biggest mental road block during this Toronto Pro Show preparation?
Greg: I discovered that despite being 40 years of age, I am still able to push myself and train while dieting just as hard and with as much passion as I did when I first started competing over 20 years ago. The biggest mental road block has been to believe in myself, that despite my age, I can still bring an even better package to the stage then I ever have in my life.
Juan: That can definitely get into a competitors mind! What is different about your training or dieting methods that you feel makes you stand out from your competition?
Greg: I maintain a healthy and balanced diet year round, and don't believe in bulking up in the off season. I have designed and developed a nutrition plan that makes me not crave bad foods. This allows me to not have a single cheat meal during my entire diet. I eat and enjoy the same meals both off season, and while dieting.
Juan: Learning your body is definitely a key to success in this sport! What made you decide to do the Toronto Pro Show this year?
Greg: The fact that the Show is in Canada and on my home turf was a huge factor! I also truly enjoyed doing the Toronto Pro show back in 2013. Not to mention, a big part of it is the expo, it’s like going to a mini Olympia.
Juan: It is certainly a huge event, the biggest fitness expo in all of Canada! What do you feel is something that many pro’s neglect in bodybuilding to look their best?
Greg: The most obvious is that they grow the midsection too much and forget the importance of overall aesthetics, in favor of just pure size and mass.
Juan: It seems like you’re very methodical about every aspect of your physique, what are some lessons you feel bodybuilding has taught you in life?
Greg: It has taught me that I can accomplish anything I set my mind on, because I have developed more will power, determination and perseverance than I could ever imagine. It has also taught me to never give up on anything I set my mind to!
Juan: Thank you for giving us an insight into the mind of a champion Greg and I have no doubt you will leave many jaws dropped June 4th in Toronto!
“Hit the weights, put on some size, and come out next year.” These are words many athletes throughout history have heard from their coaches. Many seek weightlifting as a means to improve their athletic capacity. Athletes start using weightlifting as a tool to improve for a different sport, but many also fall in love with the iron and never look back. This is what happened to Mike.
At 24 years old, Mike tried out for the CFL, and was told to get bigger and come back. Mike fell in love with bodybuilding though, and the fact that this sport solely depended on how hard he worked, not other teammates. I had the pleasure of interviewing him for all of our OPA readers and here is what Mike had to say.
Juan: Thank you very much for answering these questions for our OPA readers Mike! Tell me about how you got into fitness and competitive bodybuilding.
Mike: I started lifting weights to further my football career as I tried out for the CFL. I fell in love with bodybuilding very quickly due to the fact that it's a sport that there is no blame on anyone but you, because it's up to you to work. The work ethic you have directly reflects on your outcome and results.
Juan: That is a very cool way to how you got into bodybuilding! What do you feel has been the biggest factor to your success in bodybuilding?
Mike: I give the most credit of my success to my support system. The coaches I've had over the years such as Dan Dufresne IFBB Pro, Salim Satir, and currently John Meadows. They have taught me a lot and I feel knowledge is key to success in this sport. Other than that, it's having my amazing wife and family behind me. Without my family, I wouldn't be who I am today.
Juan: Family is definitely a big support system in bodybuilding! Do you have a full time job? If so, what are some tips you use to balance out family life, work life and bodybuilding?
Mike: I have a full time job as an Operating Technician at a hospital. Also, being a father of two amazing kids and a husband to a beautiful wife. I think the key to balancing is knowing your priorities. In my mind, family always comes first. We all love bodybuilding but it isn't who you are it is what you love to do. Family is what defines you. So every second you have, spend that time with the ones you care for the most, and the rest will fall into place. Plus compromise. That helps too!
Juan: What made you decide to do the Toronto Pro show?
Mike: My first pro show was the Toronto Pro and I wanted to return to that stage. Last year I did Vancouver and Phoenix. Plus, I always want to support our Canadian shows. The more Canadian pro shows we have the better.
Juan: Canadian bodybuilding is something that is definitely up to all of us to keep growing! What is one body part you have struggled with improving and how have you addressed this?
Mike: I've always been told my legs were lacking, so I've put a lot of effort to bring them up over the years. I'm still not where I want to be, and in this sport you're always working on something, that's the beauty of it. There is no perfect body! I've done legs twice a week for years and feel they've progressed a lot. Mountain dog training has helped a ton as well.
Juan: What advice would you give to an amateur bodybuilder looking to get to your level of competition?
Mike: Take your time..... There is no hurry to become a pro. It's doesn't change who you are! Yes, it gives you the chance to compete against the best in the world, but you're still the same person.
Also, leave the ego at home. There is nothing worse than a bodybuilder with a huge ego, no one cares. Just progress and put your hard work in. You'll earn much more respect from being true to yourself and respecting others than putting them down. We all love this sport and want it to succeed.
Juan: I agree! Many more people in this industry need to represent the sport better. What has been your hardest preparation to date? And, why?
Mike: Honestly, every preparation has its ups and downs. Every preparation I've done has had specific issues I've had to deal with. Dealing with issues in life is a stepping stone we all have to deal with. Be it injuries, body just not reacting properly, or issues in your general life; I've had them all. Just remember, we choose to put ourselves in this position and do this to ourselves. So that doesn't mean we have the right to be cranky with others just because they eat something or say something to us the wrong way.
Juan: Thank you very much for answering these questions Mike and we all look forward to seeing you rock that stage alongside the other amazing athlete's!
These are just a few of the athlete’s that will be competing on June 4th at the Toronto Pro Show. It is amazing to see how every competitor has a different story and a different path they travel on all to get to the same place and compete against each other. Next time you see a competitor on stage, try to understand that behind that beautiful physique and nice smile, there is a warrior that has fought through hell and back to get there. These athletes are all champions just by the fact that they have travelled this difficult road.
Make sure you don’t miss out on this amazing weekend in Toronto on June 3rd, 4th and 5th where many events will take place in Canada’s biggest fitness expo! Events like the Ontario Provincial championships, the IFBB pro show, many fitness seminars, the expo hall, and the display of many extreme sports! Come see history be made as this event gets bigger and bigger every year!
With the pursuit of achieving the best possible physique and helping hundreds of clients do the same, Juan Rojas has dedicated his life to finding the best strategies for transforming human bodies. Constant research, trial and error and continous education in the exercise physiology and nutrition field, Juan Rojas thrives off finding the most efficient ways to transform your body and live a happier and healthier lifestyle.