Competitor Shared Stories...
My journey began several years ago with a routine physical. At the time I weighed 266 lbs with both cholesterol and blood pressure measurements in the extreme danger zone. In short I was literally a walking heart attack waiting to happen. I was taking an anti-anxiety medicine and had recently been temporarily laid off from work. My wife had just had surgery for a softball size tumor (benign) on her ovaries. In short, a total mess. I remember the doctor told me that without a significant lifestyle change, I wasn’t likely to live to age 65.
At my wife’s urging, I consulted with a wonderful acupuncturist who was able to get me off the anxiety medicine and fix my digestive system over a period of several months. She also did treatments to boost my metabolism and I changed the way I ate. I was able to lose 30-40 lbs rapidly. Unfortunately a couple life events soon got me off track. I lost my gall bladder and my Mom passed away. Again the acupuncturist was instrumental in getting me back on track.
Still I had no thoughts of any kind of exercise program. I always had it in my mind I would start working out after I lost the weight. So I actually trained my body to eat less and eventually got to the point where I was consuming no more than 800 calories per day. And not exercising.
Shortly before my 60th birthday, I walked into a personal training studio for the first time. I had no tone, was gray in color and was told I looked like a vampire. I weighed around 191 with a 35 percent body fat measurement. The first thing they did was double my food intake and start me on a regular weight training program. I had never before in my life lifted weights. It was there watching my first trainer in a competition that gave me the dream.
In early 2012, I finally found the trainer I needed. We have worked extremely hard to get me where I am today. Even since then there have been setbacks – a couple severe vertigo attacks, a measured balance function difference between left and right side, and earlier this year, hernia surgery while preparing for a competition. Through it all I’ve kept my eye on the goal and finally 3 days short of my 67th birthday, I have arrived.
The competition itself, NGA Fredericksburg Historic, was a life changing experience I’ll never forget. The entire show organization staff was nothing but totally professional and helpful. Being the only competitor in the opening class, I remember walking on stage for prejudging and feeling like a deer in theheadlights. But it got easier each time and when I finally went out for my routine I was having a blast. By far the most uplifting part of the whole experience was the number of people I reached. From young kids walking up and saying congratulations to the video of my routine getting over a thousand views in the first 12 hours, I cannot put in words how that made me feel. I believe if I am able to influence a single person to change some aspect of his or her life, then every drop of sweat has been worth it. Looking forward to the next one!!"
"I have always been athletic and into sports. After laying around for a year doing nothing, I went from a bulky 200 pounds to a soft and fat 200 pounds. I then decided to go after a childhood dream and become an all natural pro bodybuilder. After 2 years of competing, not only am I still learning, but also knocking on the door and getting closer and closer to that pro card. I am proof that if you put your mind to it, anything is possible."
The Disabled Bodybuilder!!! A dream that started a few years ago and became reality November 4, 2017!!! Arnett Washington became one of the very few bodybuilders with Cerebral Palsy to partake in his 1st ever show and walked away with 4 medals. Arnett is back and ready to take his bodybuilding career to the next level. Since his first competition, Arnett has competed in two more competitions, the OCB Midwest States on Nov. 23, 2019 in DeKalb IL, where he took third place in Men’s Classic Physique Over age 40 and the OCB LA Hollywood Natural on Dec. 7, 2019 in Hollywood, California, where he took third place in Men’s Classic Physique Open, second place in Men’s Classic Physique Over Age 40 and first place in Men’s Classic Physique Physically Challenged. All of the competitions he competes in are all natural and are not designated for people with disabilities, anyone who is able to compete can enter these competitions. Please help and support Arnett’s mission to become a professional bodybuilder. With your help, Arnett can continue to compete in shows, try to become a fitness model for magazines and athletic brands, and eventually open up a fitness gym for people with disabilities. Competing in bodybuilding competitions throughout the country is not a cheap thing to do — there are entry fees, traveling costs, steroid and substance testing as well as a lie detector test. All of these costs and fees add up very quickly. Entry fees, spray tan, trainers pass, and lie detector around $500 to $600... Air Fare approximately $500... Hotel costs approximately $400 to $600... Rental car approximately $200 to $400... Plus the cost of gym membership, gas traveling to and from home to training facilities, food and other miscellaneous things... Please help keep this dream alive!!!
Since I was about 12, I can recall being fascinated with bodybuilding. However, I really did not know what bodybuilding truly meant. Growing up I never paid attention to bodybuilders. Instead, I would watch the World Wrestling Federation because I thought of wrestlers as bodybuilders.
After high school, I became a US Marine where working out and being active was my job. So, I knew about mental and physical challenges, but I did not know how to transform my body into something greater that I was seeking. One day I asked Medina Roberts, the fitness director and personal trainer at Sport and Health Fredericksburg, "How can I look lean and retain my muscle?" She said "at 130pm when I am going to brief my team, come over and you will find out.”
I got started with a workout and diet plan. I already knew how to work out so I simply need to follow the plan and eat muscle building fat burning foods. Nothing would prepare me for how my body transformed after following the diet and workouts. My body fat went from 12% to 4% and I lost about 26Ibs.
I was unarguably the most muscular in the Men’s Lightweight Division at the NGA Annapolis Show June 2013. I truly believe that if my posing would have been better, I could have place #1 on all judges’ score cards. I enjoyed the experience and have no worries about my ranking because I got a piece of mind knowing I can challenge myself to achieve something I thought I was not capable of doing.
Now, I am the individual at the gym being asked, what I do for arms, abs, shoulders, back and so. People, say “You look great! How does it feel?” I give people tips when I can, but I always tell them, come to the gym with a goal to challenge myself think about what you want to accomplish, set goals and make the goals your passion, and challenge yourself, then you will know exactly how I feel. I think this approach can be applied to everyday life.
Demonstrating proper posing. I was told that my posing was excellent. I am already starting to prepare for my next go at it. I plan on competing as a pro bodybuilder this coming November 2020 in Providence, RI. This time the prizes are cash awards. But I am mostly looking forward to seeing how another year of good diet and exercise will improve my physique. I have every intention of going on stage with a better body than the last time.
My name is Michael Sikorski. Starting in my teens I always had a fascination for self-defense, the military and bodybuilders. I remember watching guys like Frank Zane, my all-time favorite, on TV along with my father and brothers during broadcasts of the Mr. Olympia. My father, Anthony Sikorski, ingrained a strong appreciation for weights, strength, and boxing into us.
My father (seen here at the age of 21 in 1938) was born in 1917 and shortly after his birth he contracted the Spanish Flu. The doctor at the time told my grandmother to throw him on the trash heap because he didn't think that my father would live. His aunt decided to nurse him and, as the story goes, she fed him milk, whiskey and honey. He pulled through but not without problems. His lungs were scarred for the rest of his life and he could not walk until he was five years old. He was weak and frail throughout his childhood.
As he got older, and because of his condition, my father grew obsessed with strength and health. He looked for, and found, as much information as he could on weightlifting, strong men of his time, and boxing. There were no weightlifting gyms around so he gravitated to boxing. He eventually became a professional prizefighter and fought for the welterweight championship of Texas. He made weights from old coffee cans filled with cement connecting the together with a metal bar. He also did the same thing by melting lead in cans and connecting them in the same manner. I still have a pair of those lead dumbbells that he made many decades ago. During the last year of WWII he was drafted into service. He asked to join the Marines because he had heard they were the toughest. He went through Boot Camp and Infantry training in preparation for the invasion of Japan. His unit was loaded onto ships headed for overseas but Japan surrendered after the atomic bombs were dropped. His ship was turned around and he was discharged.
Around that time, my father was married to his 1st wife and would eventually have four kids, 3 boys and one girl. He passed his passion for strength and fitness onto his sons. They would eventually open their own gym in my hometown of Carnegie, PA. It was called Sikorski's Barbell Club. The gym was not a for profit private club. Membership was granted to those who could be vouched for by another member and who were willing to pay dues which helped cover the rent and utilities. The gym was on the top floor of an apartment building. The equipment was not fancy. A lot of old York Barbell dumbbells, plates and homemade benches and other machines. They even used large pit car wheels for their homemade leg press. The bare studded walls were covered with graffiti written in weightlifting chalk. There was no air-conditioning in the summer and in the winter heat came from electric space heaters. The bathroom was a toilet and small sink. As time passed, more and more weights and bars were added. There was a padded section for boxing and wrestling. A platform was made for squats and deadlifting.
At this point my father had divorced his first wife and married my mother. He had 4 more kids, 3 more boys and another girl. I was 9 years old when I visited this gym for the first time with my father and brother. I remember watching the guys doing heavy squats and deadlifts while music played from an old transistor radio. I also remember trying to pick up a weight to lift over my head. I got it up but lost my balance and fell backwards with it. I was a little embarrassed but I also felt pride at having lifted a "heavy weight" over my head. As I got into my mid teens, I joined a local boxing team and also tried my hand at weightlifting. However, my father was much older and was in poor health. As such he could not work much so we never had a lot of money and food was a scarce resource. There were a lot of lean times in my teen years so I never had an adequate diet to help me gain and keep a solid physique.
Three days after I graduated high school, in 1984, I shipped off to Marine Corps Boot Camp weighing only 130 lbs.. It was in boot camp that I was able to eat enough food to put on weight. I remember thinking that I never knew there was so much food. Because I was underweight the drill instructors made sure that I ate extra rations. By the time I graduated I had gained more than 30 lbs. I went to Infantry school and immediately afterwards I was sent to my first duty assignment in the Philippines. While there I began to study Karate and Judo. I kept up with studying the martial arts for about 20 years after that. Towards the end of my tour in the Marines I, once again, started to lift weights. I left the Marines and moved back home and one of the first things I did was begin working out at the family gym. I slowly gained in size and strength. I also started to teach Karate to some of the club members. In time I would reenlist in the National Guard and try out for the reserve component of the Army Special Forces. I drilled with the SF for about a year until a series of injuries (broken bones) derailed my dreams of becoming a Green Beret. I stayed in the Infantry for a couple more years but eventually I changed my military occupation to military intelligence and got involved in a counter-narcotics program. I also was trained in specialized surveillance and reconnaissance and ran my own teams for several years. Eventually 9/11 occurred and I was deployed overseas. After my first deployment I began a nearly decade long assignment in counter-terrorism. I would travel all over and received a lot of training. Through it all I kept up my weight-training and martial arts. By this point I was around 200 lbs.
In 2012, I finally retired from the military. I had accumulated a number of injuries which included 9 broken bones, including 3 vertebrae fractures, and had two surgeries. I had to scale back a lot of my activities as a result. I gave up martial arts altogether. I still kept up with my weightlifting but did not push the heavy weights I used to. Fast forward to 2015. I started to work for the Army as an analyst and it was here that I met several people who competed in natural amateur bodybuilding. They were members of the National Gym Association (NGA) and the Organization of Competition Bodies (OCB). They noticed my interest and told me how to get involved in the sport. I was 49 years old when I decided that I wanted to compete. I started to train and diet under the guidance of one of my bodybuilder co-workers. I trained for 9 months and was entered in my first competition with the NGA. I was a week out from competition when I received a call telling me that the competition was cancelled due to a problem with the venue. All that effort for nothing.
It would be a year later when I decided that I would try it again. This time with the OCB. I trained myself and adhered to the diet I used for my earlier attempt. After 10 months of training, and at 53 years old, I December of 2018, I stepped on the stage for the first time. I was the oldest athlete in the competition. I admit that I was not in as good of condition that I should have been but I did manage to take third place in both the debut and age 40+ brackets of the new, "Classic Physique" division. A couple of weeks after the show I reflected on everything and decided that I would try it again. I felt that I could, and should have, done better and that I left something on that stage. I reached out to Mario Strong who I met through my wife years earlier. He laid out a weight training program and provided some additional mentorship which I immediately put into practice. Everything was going well for a few weeks when I injured my bicep, from my elbow to my shoulder, during a workout. It would be four months before I would be able to flex my bicep again. I finally went to a doctor who gave me a cortisone shot in my shoulder. I was really frustrated because by this time it was April and I was planning on competing in December.
In order to rehab I brought exercise bands into work which I would use during breaks and slow periods. I began to do isometric exercises for my bicep to help regain my ability to flex it again. Finally, by August, I could flex my bicep and could curl enough weight to train again. And train I did. I busted my butt in the gym. I kept the expression Mario said to me, "Train like there is no tomorrow", in the forefront of my mind. I also decided to work with a dietitian and posing coach during the last two months of competition prep. I remembered Mario telling me that posing would become more important than the workouts as I got closer to competition day. I took this to heart and spent hours each week posing in front of the gym and home mirrors. After each set in the gym I would hold a pose. After my workouts I would spend another 15-20 minutes posing in the locker room. At home, I played YouTube videos of other shows and practiced each pose as the judges in the video called them out, practicing my transitioning from pose to pose.
Finally, it was time. On December 14th, 2019, I stepped on stage for my second show. I entered the Novice, and Master's 40+ and 50+ brackets of the Classic Physique division. At 54, I was the oldest Classic Physique competitor in the show. The next closest competitor to my age was 42 years old. The rest of my competition was in their 20's. I honestly felt good. Although I came in 5 lbs. lighter from the previous year, I had still gained about 5 lbs of muscle. I weighed in at 172 lbs and was down to 7% body fat. I was far from the best physique in the show but I was pleased with what I had accomplished, a better physique than the last time. All I wanted was to walk away with a 1st place trophy in one of the brackets.
Back stage I used exercise bands and the homemade, lead weights my father made in his youth to pump up with. My son Michael Jr. (see below) was there to help me. I stepped on stage 4 times during the show, once for each bracket and again for my individual routine. Because of the sequence of events, I had to go onstage, step off, and immediately go back again 3x in a row without any rest. The younger guys who I competed against in Novice were inspired and began to cheer me on. All that posing practice paid off. I was exhausted and tired but I could still hold the poses without shaking for each stage appearance. My competition in the Master's could not say the same. By the end of the show my back was killing me.
Finally, it was time to announce the winners and receive the awards. I had no certainty as to how I did. My position onstage was changed several times during the judging. In the end, I took 1st place in the Master's 40 and 50+ brackets and 4th place in Novice. I was told by others that I should have been given 3rd in Novice and that I was ripped off. But the cherry on top of it all was that I was awarded the winner of the overall Master's and was elevated from an amateur to a professional athlete!! I was so surprised I did not know how to act on stage. At 54 years old I became a professional bodybuilder after only my second competition. I took home 4 trophies and a medal that day. Although I was the oldest Classic Physique competitor, I took home more awards than any other athlete in the show. What a day!! After my father (pro boxer) and youngest brother, who is a professional strongman athlete, I became the 3rd pro athlete in my family.
I guess the saying is true, "it is never too late". I never would have guessed that at my age I would become a pro athlete. But it happened. After the show a trainer asked me if I would be willing to help make a "how to" video demonstrating proper posing. I was told that my posing was excellent. I am already starting to prepare for my next go at it. I plan on competing as a pro bodybuilder this coming November 2020 in Providence, RI. This time the prizes are cash awards. But I am mostly looking forward to seeing how another year of good diet and exercise will improve my physique. I have every intention of going on stage with a better body than the last time.