How I Started
When I was 15 all I wanted for Christmas that year was a Jack LaLanne free-weight set, with a bench. I think the whole set, loaded on the bar was only 185lbs, so benching 185 was my first weight training goal I ever set. The next year I did yard-work to earn money so I could get my first gym membership. That's when I started learning how to put an entire training program together, not just bench-press in the garage.
Fast forward to 1998, while working as a Personal Trainer in California, while going to college, a friend approached me in the gym about a bodybuilding show that he was doing. At the time I was pretty lean and he told me that I should enter. I really didn't know anything about bodybuilding. All I knew was what I saw in the magazines. After some convincing I decided to compete. The only problem was that after I committed to it my friend end up flaking out on doing the show. So here I was 4 weeks away from the show and I had no idea what I was doing. I was fortunate enough that another buddy from the gym set up a meeting with a guy who used to promote bodybuilding shows. He took me under his wing. He put a new training program and diet together for me and taught me how to pose. 4-weeks later I stepped on stage and got 3rd place.
Being as competitive as I am, I didn't like losing, even though it was only my first show. I immediately set my sights on the next show and started planning months in advance. I read everything I could on bodybuilding training, nutrition and supplementation. That next show I looked better, felt better and overall was better prepared. To be honest I felt a little cocky, thinking I was going to win....but I didn't. I got second place. Undeterred I started to plan (after a few post-dieting bowls of ice cream) my next show, where I could hopefully capture that elusive 1st place. What I didn't know is that I wouldn't get that 1st place for another five years.
Just months after that 2nd show, I was in a head-on car accident that ended any plans of competing, and nearly ended my life. I broke just about every major bone in my body and spent the next 6 weeks in the hospital and the following 12 months learning how to walk normal again. Even though I was barely held together with screws, plates and rods, I started going back to the gym as soon as possible. I was still walking with the assistance of a walker, and had a cast on each arm - let's just call it being hard-headed.
At first all I could do were basic physical therapy exercises but with hard work and perseverance...one foot in front of the other (literally)...I was eventually back in the weight room. Granted I was starting from scratch again. Before the car accident I was about 190lbs and by the time I went home from the hospital I was down to 139. Besides the injuries and my inability to get out of the hospital bed, the constant IV drip of morphine made it nearly impossible for me to eat. So going back to the gym, looking like a bag of bones, I had to work past the injuries, and try to put some healthy weight back on.
After about a year I no longer needed the cane to walk (which was the step after the walker) and I started to look like a normal person. The limp in my walk wasn't as noticeable and if someone didn't know me from before the car accident they wouldn't have suspected that anything ever happened to me. I was now back up to almost 170lbs and starting to regain some strength. That year I went down to the Natural Products Expo in Southern California and finagled impromptu interviews with any and every Nutrition Company that would take 2 minutes to talk to me. I flew back home with a job offer from what was then a fairly successful Sports Nutrition brand.
A few years later I went to work for Weider Publications (FLEX, Muscle&Fitness Magazines). I stayed there until 2009 until I started BPI SPORTS with my business partner, who is also my closest friend. We were looking for the chance to take all our experience and ideas and create a line of products we believed in, that we would want to use ourselves, and which we believed would make a difference for our customers. In the beginning we were both nearly broke, and our goals were shorter term. We simply wanted to pay our rent, keep the lights on, and provide for our kids. For the past five years we've each worn countless hats and worked countless hours to build the company. With a lot of hard work, passion, dedication and an incredibly loyal base of consumers, we were able to build BPI into one of the fastest growing supplement brands in the entire country. We now utilize four distribution hubs nationwide and count sister brands IMAGE Sports, EXT Sports, Pro-Nutra, Brain Pharma and the 4x Mr. Olympia Jay Cutler Elite Series as part of our corporate umbrella. Things have certainly far surpassed our original vision. Many thanks and appreciation to everyone out there that loves our products.
Today I still have the same passion for health & fitness that I did when I first started at 15 years old. This is my hobby, it's my business and it's a way of life for me. I've been very lucky to have had so many people that stood by me and supported me. It's a blessing to have the opportunity to share some of my experiences, so that it may possibly help someone else overcome their adversities and reach their own goals. Helping others keeps me motivated to continue pursuing my own goals.
By the way, as a side note, I did eventually win that elusive first place in a bodybuilding show. In 2004 I finally got tired of giving myself excuses why I couldn't ever compete again. I stepped up my training, worked past the pain and the injuries, and won my class and the overall title that next show. It just goes to show, if you're truly committed to something you can make it happen....it just might not happen in the timing or way you expected.
Why I Love it
I love a lot of things about working out, but one of the things that I enjoy most is the fact that you can see measurable results from your efforts - that is if you put in the time, the discipline, the hard-work and the consistency. These tangible results, that you can see and feel, seem to give people a sense of control over their lives, even when other things may seem out of control. I think this is one reason we saw gym membership and nutritional supplement sales continue to grow even through one of the worst recessions in our history. People were losing their jobs, losing their cars, their houses, their life savings, leaving them feeling like their world was spinning out of control....beyond their control. Working out not only gives you back some sense of control, over your life, but it's also an incredible stress reliever. Getting in the gym and pushing yourself to the limits has a way of clearing your mind, even if it is just for an hour or two.
I've also always appreciated the fact that the skills and disciplines required to shape and build your body are the same ones required to build anything in your life....believing in yourself, goal-setting, hard-work, pushing yourself past your comfort zone and sticking to your commitments no matter what the obstacles. These are the things that will make you successful in any endeavor. Polishing these skills in the gym, getting results, and achieving goals can boost people's confidence and make it easier to venture out and test themselves in other areas of their lives. I've seen it countless times - A physical transformation, from adopting a new health & fitness lifestyle, new habits and new belief systems bleeds over into other areas of their lives...their relationships, their career aspirations, or doing something that they've always dreamed of. Working out can be a game changer...the catalyst for change in your life.