Mr. Natural Philadelphia

(Full article is below the photos.  Photos are from my 2022 natural bodybuilding season up through the 2022 NGA Mr. Natural Philadelphia.)

Finally

Bodybuilding Winner
Mr. Natural Philadelphia.

March 26th, 2022, was a cold and windy Saturday in Philadelphia.  After an anxious night of not getting adequate sleep, I woke up with a sense of nervous optimism after 6 months of tough competition prep.

But after a 12-year journey, I finally won the overall in open men’s bodybuilding and classic physique at the 2022 NGA Mr. Natural Philadelphia to earn my pro card.  This was my 7th natural bodybuilding competition and the first won that I was crowned champion.

Before we even get into the article, I’ve got to thank God for giving me tenacity.  I’ve also got to thank all my true family and friends who supported me on this natural bodybuilding journey.

Specifically, my highest gratitude and appreciation goes to my wife, my parents, my family, my great friends, and my various training partners over the years.

I’ve been told so many times by the Ned Naysayers of the world that I couldn’t accomplish this goal.  But my true circle stayed in my corner.


Fuel Up

fuel
You need gas in the tank to win the race.

I first started to train for natural bodybuilding in the summer of 2010.

Mr. Natural Philadelphia has been the most prominent natural bodybuilding show in Philadelphia since 2001 and I wanted to win the title of Mr. Natural Philly the instant I committed to this process.

Despite my personal dreams and aspirations, I was decidedly unsuccessful for 12 years.  I lost at natural bodybuilding shows and even placed dead last in my class at a show in 2012.

I’ve been told that I could never be a professional natural bodybuilding champion by other natural bodybuilders and folks in the iron game.  I’ve been told that I was too skinny to be in the natural bodybuilding game.  I’ve watched over natural bodybuilders with better genetics and poor work ethic place higher than me.

Despite my efforts, the Charlie Critics of the iron game were initially right as I was getting my butt kicked across the stage.

But what these people didn’t know is that I needed their doubts.  The majority of my life has been filled with a lack of belief in me by the Donnie Detractors of the world.  They don’t realize that their skepticism gave me a never-ending source of fuel to continue on my journey.

I took all of it personal.  I believe that people will always have doubts about what you want to do with your life.  I also believe that you cannot give into what they say or you will live a life full of regret and missed opportunities.

I never quit training in the gym, because the goal of becoming a professional natural bodybuilder was something I badly wanted to achieve.  It was a personal goal that I had to have.


Bodybuilding Life

Early Fitman
This man, in 2008, didn’t have the answers, but this man didn’t quit.

The truth of the matter is that I don’t possess a prototypical physique that is designed for natural bodybuilding.

I’m not naturally strong or muscular.  I’m not Arnold, Sergio, Lee, or Ronnie as my genetics do not scream bodybuilder.  Everything I have has been earned through hard work over time.

I possess a sprinter body, but more specifically a 400-800 meter sprinter body.  I’ve always had decent speed and athleticism, but not elite genetic speed and athletic ability.

But I’ve always wanted to attain a strong and muscular physique because I’ve always admired muscular physiques.

As a child, I read comic books and watched cartoons of superheroes who, albeit enhanced by powers, all had great physiques.

As a teenager, I read bodybuilding, professional wrestling, and Men’s Health magazines.  I even watched Kiana’s Flex Appeal during the week over the summer and followed the daily routines they did on TV.  Shout out to Kiana Tom because she was the one who got me hooked on bodybuilding.

With the limited tools we had at home, I tried to train just like the pros so that I could look like the pros.  But this was long before I knew that all professional bodybuilders and most of the wrestlers I watched were on anabolic steroids.

As a young adult sprinter at East Stroudsburg University and West Chester University, the large majority of my training was supposed to be geared towards better performances on the track.

When you lift for sprinting vs. lifting for bodybuilding, you end up taking different approaches.  My training at the time did not prioritize maximizing the appearance of my physique because that was not the goal.

As an adult, I started learning about natural bodybuilding.  This appealed to me because it was a competitive sport where steroids would not be a big factor.

Are there natural bodybuilders on steroids?  Absolutely.  These charlatans lack character and integrity, but I’ll cover that topic in another article.

But is the anabolic steroid use in natural bodybuilding as rampant and as painfully obvious like it is in enhanced bodybuilding?  Not even close.

I wanted to compete in bodybuilding, but I knew I did not want to take steroids.  I love bodybuilding, but I also love living a healthy life.

I’d like to be on Earth for as long as I possibly can.  I’ve seen and read too many stories about the downsides of long-term anabolic steroid-use for me to consider them a viable option for me.

It’s no judgement on those who take steroids, I just choose not to take them.  The challenge of maxing out my physique naturally is extremely appealing because without a real challenge, what’s the point?

It’s Personal

it became personal
Yes, it did.

I started training for natural bodybuilding in the summer of 2010.  My first competitive run in natural bodybuilding was from 2011-2014.

During that time, I never placed higher than 5th in any class.  I made improvements every year, but I had too many holes in my physique to be a real factor.

From 2015-2020 a lot of great things happened.  I returned to competitive sprinting, got married, we bought a house, and I accomplished a lifelong dream and opened up my own gym.  The Fitman Performance And Physique Center officially opened on January 7th, 2017 in my hometown of Roslyn.

I returned to competitive masters’ track and field because I did not like how my track career ended at West Chester.

I left a lot of meat on the bone as a collegiate sprinter, and it bothered me.  Returning to the track with the proper training and mindset was extremely personal for me.

My comeback in track was very successful.  I was nationally ranked in the top third of the country in the 100m (11.57) and 200m (23.78) dashes.  But the goal of becoming a professional natural bodybuilder still burned hot inside of me.  That beast was still alive and well.

After two hamstring tears in 2018 and 2019 caused a steep decline in my sprinting performances, I began to consider stepping back on stage.  I even considered competing at the 2021 Mr. Natural Philadelphia, but I felt that it was too soon after the pandemic.

I did not feel, with what we went through as a world, that the competition would be as stout as it normally is.  An extra year would allow other natural bodybuilders to train hard again as we started to see light at the end of the pandemic tunnel.

I did not want to compete against guys who couldn’t train during the pandemic.  I did not miss any lifting during Covid because fortunately I have a gym.  Even if I did not have a gym, I would have found a way to train because if you want what you want, you do what you need to do.

I wanted to compete against the best that Philadelphia had to offer for 2022.  This meant using 2021 to continue to train for the 2022 NGA Mr. Natural Philadelphia.


The Champ Is Here

belt
Winners win.

I watched so many other guys win Mr. Natural Philadelphia over the years.  I wanted to be that guy.

I didn’t want to be that guy just to have the title and get “likes” on social media.  I wanted to be that guy to show other people that giving a consistent, quality effort over time will pay off no matter the endeavor.

One of the ways that success can be defined is going from failure to failure without losing your passion and enthusiasm for your goal.

What if Michael Jordan had quit after losing in the playoffs for the first 7 years of his career?

What if Muhammad Ali had quit after being stripped of his boxing license and losing his ability to box as a professional during his prime fighting years?

What if Ronnie Coleman had quit after finishing in 15th place at the 1994 Mr. Olympia?

None of these brothers would have reached their true greatness, because their true greatness did not occur until after they were at their lowest point.

Jordan and the Bulls ended up winning 6 titles in dominating fashion.  No team ever took them to a game 7 in the Finals.

Jordan also won the Finals MVP every time he was in the Finals.  He is the undisputed GOAT in the game of basketball.

Ali ended up returning to the ring after the Supreme Court overturned his conviction.  Against all odds he won the most iconic fight in boxing history, the “Rumble in the Jungle” where he knocked out a heavily favored George Foreman.  He became “The Greatest” in that moment.

And Ronnie ended up finally winning the 1998 Mr. Olympia by beating his friend and heir apparent to the throne, Flex Wheeler.  4 more years of consistent, quality effort from 1994-1998 led to his first of a record 8 wins at Mr. Olympia and the title of “The King”.

If I would have quit my natural bodybuilding journey in 2014, I would have never become a professional natural bodybuilder.  If I would have listened to the Harry Haters of the world, I would have never opened up my own gym.

You have to stay hungry for your goal, despite what the non-believers around you are saying.  The critics of the world will always be here like mosquitoes in the summer.

They are just filled with envy because they can’t do it and don’t have the heart to take a risk.  It is a pure fact that you aren’t going anywhere worthwhile in this world if at some point you don’t take a risk.

The success you are having, your dedication to your goals, and you being determined to reach them can remind some people that they never gave the required effort to improve their life.

Don’t dim your star to make someone else feel better, because them not believing in themselves is not your problem.

To reach your goal you have to commit to the fact that true success requires struggle and it requires giving a consistent, quality effort over time.


Contest Results

2011

NGA Mr. Natural Philadelphia
• 7th out of 12 in the Open Bodybuilding Lightweight Class
OCB Beyond Nutrition Natural
• 7th out of 11 in the Open Bodybuilding Tall Class

2012

OCB Beyond Nutrition Natural
• 9th out of 9 in the Open Bodybuilding Tall Class
NGA Mr. Natural Philadelphia
• 6th out of 12 in the Open Bodybuilding Middleweight Class

2014

NGA Mr. Natural Philadelphia
• 5th out of 12 in the Open Bodybuilding Middleweight Class
OCB Jersey Natural Open
• 6th out of 12 in the Open Bodybuilding Tall Class

2022

NGA Mr. Natural Philadelphia
• Overall Winner in Open Bodybuilding
• Overall Winner in Open Classic Physique
• 1st out of 3 in the Open Bodybuilding Middleweight Class
• 1st out of 3 in the Open Classic Physique Middleweight Class
* Earned NGA Pro Card in Bodybuilding and Classic Physique

OCB Jersey Natural Open
• 2nd out of 6 in Open Bodybuilding B

If you are interested in how I specifically prepared to win the 2022 NGA Mr. Natural Philadelphia and earn my pro card, you can also contact me directly.

I’ll holla at you next time.
The People’s Trainer,
Fitman

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