Never, Never, Never Give Up!
If at first you don’t succeed, then try and try again…..
That is the saying that has been echoing in my head over the last few weeks, since I returned from Beachbody Coach Summit 2014. The main theme of that event is #NeverGiveUp – just to show that there will always be obstacles in our path but if we endure and persevere, then we will be successful.
Around 2 weeks ago, I competed in my first fitness competition at the Beachbody Physique Classic. It was a surreal experience when it was announced that I had taken 2nd place for Men’s Physique. However, I would be lying if told you I wasn’t disappointed — I wanted first. . Don’t get me wrong, I was ecstatic to bring home a trophy, ANY trophy; but the 1st place trophy would have meant the world to me.
I thought that was it, I was convinced that I didn’t have what it takes to get to #1. But what changed my mind was having Sagi Kalev backstage telling me that I looked great and that the judging was really close; if there was a height or weight category, I would have won it. Sagi also told me that I had made a really great first attempt at a fitness competition and that if I worked even harder, he predicted that there would be many more trophies in my future.
Now, who wouldn’t be pumped up when THE BEAST told you something like that? At the end of the night, my competitive fire was lit, and now it burns even brighter and stronger. I knew that there was a competition near my home, at the birthplace, the very mecca of bodybuilding: Muscle Beach at Venice, CA. Lucky for me that I live only a mile away, and this time, I was going for the GOLD.
I went back to my physique coach, who had been prepping me for the Beachbody Physique Classic, to help me get ready. We did nothing major, other than some small tweaking of my diet and posing, and he told me one great piece of advice that I think helped me tremendously – to flare, expand and flex my lats to their max!
So yesterday, while America was celebrating its birthday, I was getting ready for one of the most best known bodybuilding/physique shows around – the Mr & Mrs Muscle Beach. People came from all over the place to compete for this show (some were from Canada and Europe!) When I arrived at the location, I was intimidated by all these bodybuilders and even physique guys who looked really amazing. For just a moment there, I began to doubt myself, but then I remembered about my mission – to bring home the GOLD!
I don’t know how it happened, but when I was placed for categories, I measured in at 5’7 and just 150 pounds! This is odd, because I knew that I’m 5’8 from the doctor’s office, and my scale at home (which always correlates to my gym and roommate’s scale) showed that I was at 159.6 lbs BEFORE breakfast. Either way, it didn’t matter much, as I got placed into the “Short” Men’s Physique Category.
Now, if you’re unfamiliar with fitness competition, there is prejudging and then the finals. In most cases, the judges decide the winners during the prejudging, while the final is usually ONLY for the crowd, and usually for the judges to compare the winners for the overall title. So I knew that I needed to do well for prejudging as it was my best chance to win.. When I got up on stage for my category at 11 am with 10-12 other guys, my roommate Michael Harrison, who got to be my backstage cheerleader, told me that he looked around the line and say “No contest here, you got it!”. All I know is, I had to flex and hold my pose for what seemed like the longest time ever in front of the judges!
After the prejudging, I had a few hours to kill since the final was at 1 pm, and I knew that the physique part wouldn’t start until at least 2. The waiting period was killing me – who wouldn’t be anxious to hear the judges’ decision? . I knew that had to make the most of my time by being positive and and networking with others backstage. I met a few great guys and we ended up becoming each others support team, and they were assuring me that I would bring home the gold. They saw me among my peers and said that I had the best Shoulder-Lat-Waist ratio and of course, I have the BEST ABS of anyone in the whole physique category. What can a guy do other than feeling pumped up when hearing stuff like these right?
Finally, it was my category’s turn to be called on stage. It was really just a quick pose for the crowd and then the announcer called the Top 5 back the stage with my name being called first.. Looking at the Top 5 who standing with me, I was worried about 2 other guys who looked like great competitors, but as the judges announced the 5th, 4th, 3rd and 2nd place winners, that’s when I knew that my name would be called next for FIRST PLACE!
That’s it! I got it! I got the GOLD for my category. I was ecstatic and I thought that was it…. but backstage, the crew told me to wait as I still need to compete for the overall competition in the next 5-10 min. And that’s when that human nature of competitive inside me ignited again – I WANTED IT!
As tired as I was after being outdoors in the hot sun competing at Muscle Beach for seven 7 hours, I told my body to SHUT UP and focus! I kept chanting this quote in my head by Rich Froning, champion of Crossfit:
“In Training, you listen to your body. In competition you tell your body to shut up.”
The finalists….. comparing the champions from each Physique category
That moment came when I had to stand up stage with 3 other winners for Medium, Tall and Ultra Tall Physique Category. I used the very last energy that I have to flex, hold my pose, muster a smile, and ignoring all the cramps in my muscles from the lack of food, water and complete exhaustion. One of the judges then announced:
“Give the trophy to contestant number 5……3……5……”
My eyes were blinked because that numbers are familiar
Wait…. that’s my name…..am I the winner? It took a while for my brain to register. I was in shocked!
I AM THE CHAMPION MR MUSCLE BEACH 2014 for Men’s Physique!
I was really grateful and honored to receive this award. The biggest realization was that I realized that ‘shitty’ things need to happen sometimes before we can realize our true potential. What IF….. I had won 1st place at the Beachbody Classic – would I have competed for Mr Muscle Beach? Would I have been happy and complacent with my win and not gone on to attempt something greater?
I knew then that getting 2nd place at the Beachbody Classic was a blessing in disguise.. Because going on to be the champion and the title Mr Muscle Beach is pretty badass.
My advice to y’all who is reading this – don’t give up and never give up! Always look at unpleasant situations try to see them as blessings in disguise. Something good will always come out of it. Until then, just be positive and become the very best you!
Look for my picture in the next IronMan magazine regarding the champions of Mr & Ms Muscle Beach
Last but not least, I want to thank 2 great men who have helped me to be the champion. Mr America Jason Kozma, my physique coach, who has been helping me with my poses, fixing my workout form, and been working with my diet the past 10 weeks and got me cut down to 4% bodyfat. It was great that he even went to the competition with me and took my pictures on stage! I’m pretty sure his winning trick of “spread the lat – it’s your winning feature” did the trick 🙂
And of course, the beast himself, Mr Israel Sagi Kalev, who took the time out of his busy schedule to be my personal mentor and motivator after the Classic, to prep for Mr Muscle Beach. Sagi and I were texting back and forth till the wee hours the night before the competition to really work on my diet so that I would look the best, muscular, and jacked at 4% bodyfat, instead of a ‘flat’ lean guy. And when I texted him that Im the champion, he just replied “I already knew that!”. That guy 🙂
For more photos from the competition, please click here.
Note: If you’re wondering what I did to prep for Beachbody Classic & Mr Muscle Beach, it’s all about following Body Beast & drinking Shakeology daily. You can read more about my journey on the previous blog here: http://rippedlikenick.com/nutrition/journey-physique-competition/