My First Bodybuilding Show
One day while in community college at Columbus State, I heard about a bodybuilding show nearby in Grandview,Ohio. I was in solid shape already, right in the mist of getting my ab muscles kinda legit for the first time. I had really been focusing on my conditioning, reading about diet, honestly just doing a ton of cardio attempting to get lean. I was 20, maybe 21 years old and had no clue what I was about to embark on. I was so unprepared that I signed up the week of show, never having posed before, not owning a pair of trunks, hell I had never even been to a local show, yet I here I was signing up for this big NPC event. I said fuck, I'm in shape, they have a junior division which was under 22 or 24, I can’t remember now but it was perfect for me, plus I crossed over to the novice division. I reached out to the promoter because as most of you know, I’m not scared to ask a bunch of questions, plus I wanted to see if he would help me learn how to pose. He answered all my questions and even offered to take a look at my posing.
I'll never forget the night before the show, I showed up to his house ready to learn. He said he had some extra trunks that he would sell me (they were not used), one less thing to worry about the day before. He spent the next 20 minutes with me, showing me what the mandatory poses were & smooth transitions. I had a chance to work on each one briefly so I could at least go home and practice. He also asked if I had a music routine? I said no, do I need one? He said each competitor is given a 60 second spot to pose along with music and we give away a best poser award in each class. Well shit, I just leaned to pose 5 seconds ago, but I had been reading about Frank Zane, Ed Corney and of course Arnold and Franco’s posing for years. I picked up posing rather quickly because of all the years of reading old school bodybuilding mags.
The day before learning to pose I had bought some competition color also known as fake tan, this helps the muscles really pop in the spotlight on stage. I got home with red trunks, some fake tanning stuff and then came the painful part of shaving my hairy ass Italian legs. It was brutal! I must say, if you’re a female reading this, I have so much respect for what you all do weekly, shaving really sucks. I went through about 12 BIC razors on my thick hairy ass legs. I can’t even tell you how weird it was shaving my legs, but to my surprise once the hair was gone my legs looked good.
Since I was in the novice and junior divisions, I didn’t have to hit a certain weight. I was around 165-167 pounds roughly back then. I felt flat because I had no clue what I was doing, but I was in shape and knew how to pose, basically I was a pro ha-ha. Rachael my girlfriend at the time, now my wifey was there helping my late into the night practicing what we call painting my body. We guessed the proper darkness and just winged it, straight up. As my color got deeper and I practiced more posing I told Rachael, I just might have a shot to place at this thing. The day of the event I had severe butterflies from never being on stage before, plus I was about to be standing in front of 500 plus people, wearing some small ass underwear.
I checked in at the event and I took a moment to look around and saw some jacked dudes. A little self-doubt attempted to creep in on me, am I out of my league, I wondered? Enough of that nonsense, it’s time to go! I began warming up as they started going through the various divisions. The junior division is called, number after number, one by one until they finally call mine, “number 32 line up.” There is no turning back now, secretly I count in my head 16 guys in the junior division but I know I am leaner than most of them. They started walking us out on stage, the light hit me and it was on! All the muscle magazines I had read, all the workouts after school, all the hours I had dreamed about being a bodybuilder finally came to a head. I had my Grandparents, Mom and friends came to support me, it was unreal.
I knew I looked better than most of the competition, my stage presence was there, I acted like I didn’t learn to pose the night before. I acted like I been there before, owning the stage, vacuuming and blowing out my abs on extra poses. I held everything tight and smiled like I was had just won the super bowl. As eliminations began they called my number moved me in to the top 5! My friends and family were cheering loudly, I was feeding off their energy. They filed us off for a short intermission, after the intermission, it was time for our 60 second routine which I had made up the night before. Another scary part was the 60 seconds routine you are all by yourself on stage with 500 plus people staring at you. I am thankful I grew up listening to Do- Wop soul music. My father was a huge Temptations and James Brown fan. As a kid feeling those beats I think molded me to having some rhythm. I also had studied so much of Frank Zane’s posing that I knew my body type and how it needed to be displayed best to give me a shot at best poser award.
I walked out on stage and the Let’s Stay Together by Al Green dropped, I instantly had women in the crowd cat calling it was hilarious. I was hitting all my flow poses very gradually for 30 seconds and then I brought the house down as it switched to James Brown’s Sex Machine. I hit a chest pop with the beat, bump, bump, bump, it was a wrap! The crowd when crazy, I did some more posing and a bit of dancing, getting a huge response. It felt amazing I'm not going to lie I had been training for months and months to get better. I was the guy going to keg parties on campus and drinking water, listening to drunk idiots all weekend telling me how I was too small to be a bodybuilder, all sorts of bullshit. All those nights not partying, hearing the things I couldn’t do were worth it. I ended up taking 4th place out 16 competitors and the best poser award over the whole class in my first show.
Little did I know, that there was a local photographer stationed up front, snapping pictures of the show. Honestly, I never even saw him while I was on stage. A month after the show I received a package in the mail, it was two pictures from the photographer as a nice gesture. He said, you did well here a couple great shots I snapped. The first was an ab pose, the other one being a Frank Zane pose that I really liked. Two months later I sent that picture to Flex Magazine when they used to have what was called the “Flex Street Scene.” They would publish up and comers, average guys just starting out. That became my first ever published picture in a magazine and I was hooked. Seeing myself in print lit a fire inside to become a cover guy which became the driver to a lot of my success in my career. I hope you all enjoyed coming through what I remember about my first show.