Keith Kirkwood

Actually, I would consider myself a bodybuilder, the same as you would consider Floyd Mayweather Jr. a pro boxer even though he is not a heavyweight.  Bodybuilding is a sport, not a weight class. I just had this discussion with a top Hollywood agency that represents me regarding a reality show I’m producing.  Just because the subject is bodybuilding, it doesn’t mean you have to be 200lbs; it’s about building  your body – exactly what the word says, whether you go from 130-150lbs or you’re a young lady who wants to tone her body. If you’re in the gym training hard 4- 6 days a week, you’re a bodybuilder.

Bobby Obradovitch

Bobby: By nature I guess you can say I love lifting heavy.  For the period of time I set foot in the gym it’s about business and really training hard.  However, you will ALWAYS see me smiling and having fun though.  I believe you should be able to find a split second to laugh and have a good time.  Make training fun!  Over the past few months Chris has instilled “Time under tension” in a lot of my workouts.  Meaning when I’m not lifting extremely heavy, I should be constantly putting my muscles under distress.

Scotty Wiseman

SCOTTY: What up fam!? My name is Scotty Wiseman and I am a 22-year-old natural Bodybuilder repping the 804 – aka Chesterfield, Virginia. For those who don’t know, it’s about 20 minutes south of Richmond. This fall I will be a senior at Lynchburg College; and if all goes according to plan, I will be graduating in May with a degree in Health and Physical Education!

Alex Michael Turner

ALEX: I would have to say the biggest thing that I see people do is maintain a mentality that CALORIES are CALORIES…and in all reality, when I sit down to lunch with my friends who are weighing in at 265 competing weight, the first thing I notice is their diet. It is always CLEAN bulk food. Whole foods are the key ingredient, and supplement to major growth. Just because a chicken basket with fries is 1800 calories….that doesn’t mean it’s going to ANYTHING positive to benefit you in the areas of lean gains!

Mark Chism

Mark: I started training for bodybuilding in 2009 with my best friend and training partner.  I realized I had to build a physique that was fitting to the judging criteria, so I spent about a year and a half building up my weak points and ensuring even, overall growth.  I decided to enter my first competition in 2011.  I did two local level competitions that year, and got hooked on competing.  In the 2011 NPC MAN SPORTS Northern Colorado Championships I took 1st Place Men’s Heavyweight Open Class and 2nd Place Men’s Heavyweight Novice Class. Then, in the 2011 Armbrust Pro Gym Warrior Classic I took 1st Place Men’s Heavyweight Open Class.

Vitor Fernando Martins Faiante

VITOR: My advice for people starting out is to do your research well. Learn about macronutrients and micronutrients. Don’t be afraid of failure because each time you fail you learn more and more. Learn about IIFYM in its true context. Stick to a well known proven training method and I would suggest for someone starting for them to start at 3 days per week because sometimes this notion of more is better is not the case especially, for a beginner. Have fun and workout out hard and believe you can achieve your goals.

Trey Alvarado

Trey: When I was 16, I was in a very serious car accident. Through this experience I had an epiphany that would change my life forever. I realized that I wasn’t making the best of my time on this earth and I wanted to try new things. I wanted to do a bodybuilding competition! At first it seemed like I was just going through a phase, but after meeting with a nutritionist and learning how to workout, it seemed like I was addicted. Seeing my body change and grow was the most rewarding feeling I had ever felt.

Matthew Eubanks

Matthew: I was in a car accident and fractured my C6 and was partially paralyzed. It took a very long time to recover from that. So I started weight lifting again, not seriously at all, to help strengthen my body but it didn’t last long. In 2004 I had an accident at work and ended up having 4 knee surgeries on my right knee. I ended up being 30% disabled in my right knee. So after 2 years of healing and physical therapy I finally decided to hit the gym and stick with it. I haven’t stopped since. In 2007 I did a transformation contest for Bodybuilding.com and placed 2nd. This set me on fire to train seriously. I’ve always wanted to compete but never had the balls until now. I just competed March 17th in the NPC Mid West and placed 2nd in the Light Heavies and 4th in Masters. Not bad for my first show!

Cody Montgomery

Cody: “I’ve done the Europa Dallas Supershow, in which I won the teen overall. This was my first competition and after this show I knew this was something I wanted to do for a long time. Then recently this year I did my second show, The Ronnie Coleman Classic, which was actually the biggest show Texas has had. I won the Teen Overall and also I won the Novice Men’s Middleweight. I started working with Jonathan Irizarry for this show and the prep went awesome, hoping to do great things with him on my team.”

Kevin Lisak – Student Rep

KL: Well, bodybuilding changed my whole life. I realized it was what I was intended to do. I went back to the books again and became a Certified Personal Trainer and started my business, Kevin Lisak Fitness. Since becoming a trainer and expanding my knowledge of fitness even more, I learned to develop my body better. In 2011 I was contacted by top fitness photographer Michael Anthony Downs and asked to shoot with his company. Since then I have expanded myself as a bodybuilder and fitness model and hope so see much more come with that in the future.

Josh Heath

JOSH: People ask me a lot of questions about what to do or how to do it and I love to help them. If my buddies lift with me they know they are in for a hard ass workout, no playing around. I have actually made a few of them throw up, I love it LOL! I can’t stand two things when lifting…Talking, and listening to soft music, you’re there to workout not reminisce!!!!

Jonathan Adam Alvarez

JAA: I always admired the pro wrestlers’ physiques growing up and started doing push-ups early on and started curling when I was 14 with my brother’s 50-pound bar. And the rest is history. Powerlifting at 17; bodybuilding by 21. As far as my main goals, I just want to strive to be great at everything I do. I feel as though my hard work and consistency and my desire to keep learning every day will only do me good. You just never know where life’s gonna take you. All I know is, I want to be a champion and I will not be outworked.

CT Fletcher

CT : To the older guys I’d say, I’m as old school as they come, and totally understand your reluctance to use something that might make use seem any less “Macho.”  I’m one of the founding fathers of No pain, No gain, so I get it, I do. But…with age also comes wisdom.  With that wisdom I’ve determined that my girlfriend likes my less abrasive hands, much more than the thickly calloused ones I usually sport, something about sand paper doesn’t feel good. To the young guys I’d say, listen to this old man, I’ve been where you are.  Don’t make my mistake, protect your hands – you won’t get any new ones if you mess these up!

Joe Morici

JOE: Unbelievable!  The moment I started using them, it was like my hands went on a vacation.  It seemed as if most of the pressure my hands were enduring from using weight lifting gloves was gone!  I used to think that pressure I felt was just a normal thing and I had to deal with it.  They are so comfortable, they handle great on everything I use them on and I feel more intensity on the muscle group I’m working on, rather than on my hands.  They are just amazing!

Alex Frescatore

ALEX: I came upon the world of lifting after the lower back injury in ’09. My tenth grade year things got bad for me. My grades were bad, I didn’t have many friends, and my weight was spiraling out of control. Not to mention I was just going through a failed relationship. I needed a life change. And I remember this like it was yesterday – I looked mirror. I was 237 pounds and squeezing into my black jeans was a 44 inch waist.

Milton Kotopoulos

MILTON: Monster Milton is my real nickname. I want to get as big as I can get naturally, which is definitely “monster big” to me. I have competed in two power lifting meets and I plan on doing some teen bodybuilding shows in the future. I just want to be the best lifter I can be, get as big and strong as I can, and improve myself physically and mentally. And overall, live a healthy lifestyle.

Roy Johns

ROY: Going into high school I was 15 and I weighed 150 pounds. Training with my dad up until high school helped me get some size, along with naturally getting older and growing up. After football season was over I joined the wrestling team, and long-jumped for the track team. My sister was a big time athlete at my high school, and there was a lot of pressure on me to live up to her. I’ve always been very competitive, so I decided to play sports year around.

Daniel Haapala

DANIEL: Right now I’d say I’m a hobby photographer and that photography is very a big part of my life. I started out shooting anything from snails to grass to snail to sunsets.  I see beauty everywhere. But mostly I shoot people now. So while I’m not a professional yet, I am definitely moving up, and I hope to become a pro someday. I’d like to get better and maybe meet some of the people whose really outstanding work I see out there.

Matt DeConti

MATT: My advice for people that are just starting to lift is to not let other people that may be at the gym you go to make you feel like you shouldn’t go because your arms or chest are small compared to them. Everyone has to start somewhere and gradually get bigger and stronger. It all takes time, mental toughness, dedication and the determination to become a better and healthier person. Also when you begin lifting, don’t try to impress anyone by doing ridiculous weight that you know you can’t physically do because that is just an accident waiting to happen, instead focus on learning the correct form for each exercise.

Tammy Hughes

TAMMY: You’re right. It’s been almost seven years and things are very different. I married a most AMAZING man, David Hughes, who’s been an international bodybuilding champion for 22 years. David and I now own Get Hughes Nutrition, in Simi Valley, California. It’s a supplement store and a personal training studio. David and I have been part of the fitness profession for so long it’s just part of who we are. And we love being able to help people achieve the results they really long for.

Christopher Downey, BBG Student Rep, Chicago

Chris: I started my fitness blog July 2007. I had received a ton of questions in the gym about my routine and diet, so I decided it was time to write it all down and publish it. My goal with the blog is to inform people about my methods of training and hopefully inspire them to reach their goals. It has actually grown into a lot more. It’s really crazy running my own bodybuilding blog.

Morgan Girot, Student Rep, Bordeaux, France

MORGAN: The main reason is that since I was a kid, guys at school were always laughing at me because I was small. So I had to do something about it. When I was in Orléans two years ago, the gym right across the road, I just had to cross the road to get in the gym. Open every day twice a day. So I started to train with no clue what I was doing, except bench pressing, triceps push downs and pull ups.

Justin Sprague

JUSTIN: I’d say a great client is one that is driven and gives 100% every session. Many clients stay unsure of themselves and hold back. I have a few clients I’ll spend a little extra time with because they’ve reached excellent goals. I’ll train them a bit longer and will often workout with them. We’ll go more in depth with why we are doing certain exercises and why it’s in a certain order.

JJ Schelling

JJ Schelling: It’s true. I had a very hard battle with anorexia for the past couple of years and I am very blessed I am here today. I had a heart rate of 29 beats per minute, and the doctor told me I wasn’t going to be around much longer. That was the big wake up call!! And lucky for me I found bodybuilding. And before I knew it I was seeing awesome results.

Mike Boyechko

Mike: It was a confidence booster when I heard I had the chance to represent a company like Chris Byrd’s supplement store.  I met the team through my good friend  Jj Schelling.  I started talking to Chris Byrd who is the owner of the store and we started going back and forth.  We both thought it would be a great idea for me to represent Chris’s store and we went through with it.  Chris took me aboard the team as one of the two teen bodybuilders being out of Canada.

Preston Sewell

Preston: A few months ago I was looking for sponsors and eventually i came across Bob Davidson. He sponsored me through himself and his company Sault Area Wrestling. He introduced me to Chris Byrd. At first i was a little nervous. I mean, I’m 15 and here is a potential sponsor. But i knew it was right when my friends and fellow athletes Mike Boyechko and JJ Shelling also became part of the team.

Eric Boneta, Student Rep, Puerto Rico

Eric.B. Here is where military discipline comes in and the intensity goes up high volume, I don’t like waiting for people, I don’t like quitters, I hate people that don’t try hard, don’t like the chit chat. And don’t tell me something is too heavy or I can’t do it. I will slap you with my BBGs right in the back of your head. Just kidding. But I really workout full intensity, I take it seriously and I expect my workout partner to do the same.

Joshua “Tank” Sarge

Joshua: “Well I’m 24 and was born in San Clemente, CA but grew up in Columbus, OH…home of the Arnold Classic. Over the past few years I’ve been trying to make my way back to California. Made a pit stop in Dallas for a couple years where I started a personal training company. I have worked as a personal trainer and nutrition consultant, and I had stints at Red Lobster and Lowes right out of high school lol. Now that I’m back in Cali I’m waiting to hear about a couple job opportunities and really just focusing on the gym.”

Nicole Forlenza

Nicole: “When I was 21 I had never lifted weights in my life…I always ran and swam. My boyfriend at the time was a bodybuilder. And while he never pushed his lifestyle on me, I asked him so many questions about it that he finally bought me five training sessions with a personal trainer so I could see for myself. And it CHANGED MY LIFE!!!Seriously, I was hooked half way thru my 1st session. I worked out with that personal trainer for nine months straight, 3x a week. And then I continued on my own to become a certified personal trainer myself so I could change people’s lives just like he did mine.”

Garret Amerine

We met Garret when we were looking for staff for our booth at the Muscle Beach Championships in Venice, CA, and he has since worked additional Big Back Grips events. Garret maintains a competitive physique year round; as of this article, he was preparing for the MuscleMania Model Universe Championships in Miami and placed 4th out of top 77 competitors from around the world.

Mike Foster

Bodybuilder Mike Foster is one of the biggest fans of Big Back Grips users we know. (Read a little further to see how we met.) He also one of the most multifaceted. His facets include bodybuilder, English teacher, spokesperson and bartender. Big Mike Foster is a widely known and well respected member of the community of fitness professionals in Los Angeles. As a fitness model and spokesperson, he has represented ErgoGenics and Sylvester Stallone’s Instone. He has also represented Big Back Lifting Grips at Muscle Beach Venice on many occasions.

Don Howorth

“Well, you know the knurling on the handles really rips up your hands. And I’d been dealing with that issue for over 40 years. Dave Draper and I used to cut up inner tubes from bike tires and we had a little secret cubby at Muscle Beach where we’d hide them. They protected our hands a little, but they were not great. Dave’s hands are so bad now he has to use thick sponges. Anyway, I saw your Big Back Grips at some supplement store I go to, picked up a few pair and brought them to Powerhouse Gym in Burbank where I work out.”

Justin Hayward

Justin Hayward is a 23-year-old Boston native who started training for competitive bodybuilding when he was 16. He takes bodybuilding very seriously and has the muscle gains and physique contest results to prove it. In 2008 he took 3rd Place, Teen Division, in the Bev Francis Atlantic States Bodybuilding Championships. He also took 2nd Place, Teen Division, in the 2008 NPC Long Island Bodybuilding Championships. Justin is 6’2”, and considers 210 a good competition weight – for now! Off-season he can carry upwards of 250 lbs. Justin’s immediate goals are improving his own physique and helping other competitors with their bodybuilding careers.

John Carter

John: Back in High School I used to be a Tri Sport Athelete. I used to run track, swim & play football and I must say that all of them were my strong sports besides that I’m also a 2nd Degree Black belt. Track allowed me to work on my cardio vascular endurance as I used to be a sprinter (4×1 relay, 4×4 relay, 400 & 200) those were the good ole days of training hard and pushing my body to the limits. Swim & football tested my strenght and muscle endurance, same with Karate.

Jordan Edge

Jordan: Well, my name is Jordan Kyle Edge. I’m 19 years old. I was born in England but grew up in a small town in Caswell County in NC. I went to Bartlett Yancey High School. Right now I am currently working at a paint store called Danville Paint Supply In Danville VA. I also have the best girlfriend ever – Jordan Elizabeth Dallas – and she supports me all the way when it comes to bodybuilding. Also my mom Lisa and my dad Ondre are a big reason I do what I do and have accomplished what I have accomplished.

Joe Alves

Joe Alves: Becoming a sponsored athlete was a major blessing in my goals of becoming a success in the fitness and nutrition industry. You have to have the drive, the will and a clear plan of attack that leads to an ultimate goal! I had dreamed of one day becoming a pro bodybuilder. Having a sponsor is an amazing way of getting your name out and depending on the sponsor can be an amazing assist in your goals. When I met Tom Wiens, owner of Max Muscle in Eugene, Oregon, I was barely a week out of my first competition.

Martae Ruelas

Joe Alves: Martae Ruelas is the upfront, tell-it-like-it-is kind of guy we really admire. We met him in person for the first time at Metroflex Gym in Phoenix where he trains. After we were introduced he said, “I wrote you guys about sponsoring me a few months ago but you ignored me.”  We hate when people hold back and so we liked Martae right away. And we have corrected our oversight: we are sponsoring Martae for his appearance in the West Coast Classic in California next June.

Jovann Rushing

Jovann Rushing: Of course I use BBGs on back days to pull heavy. Also in curling and my chest training for pressing movements. They cushion my hands, which lets me get out more reps. I love that!” – Jovann Rushing, Bodybuilder and Sumo Champion