Fit Team Member Of The Month: Nichiren Flowers

Never count Nichiren Flowers out. When life told him to quit football, he kept charging ahead. Now he preaches the same message to Bodybuilding.com's customers!

Imagine being a star receiver, destined for an NFL roster. Then imagine the bewilderment as your body begins to mysteriously break down from the inside.

That breakdown for Nichiren Flowers went undiagnosed throughout his senior season at the University of Nevada, Reno. All he knew was that both his weight and his performance on the field were suffering. Then he got a diagnosis: Crohn's disease, an autointoxication of the immune system.

But where those highlight reels ended, new dreams emerged. He came to Bodybuilding.com, became a personal trainer, and found a way to get back in the game.

Today, he is an athlete, father, scholar, musician, poet, and entrepreneur. He is the embodiment of the Bodybuilding.com mantra.

To change lives, he started with his own.

Q

What is your position at Bodybuilding.com?

I'm a customer service representative, working with customers via phone, chat, and email, trying to create that life-changing experience to keep people coming back.

When I first started, I was overwhelmed with products and supplements. I had taken creatine and heard some things about protein. I was young and [laughs] taking test boosters.

"I feel like I'm ahead of the game now and well-informed about supplements. I can recommend a good supplement stack and diet plan for any type of person who calls in."

Since then, I've grown into the position. I feel like I'm ahead of the game now and well-informed about supplements. I can recommend a good supplement stack and diet plan for any type of person who calls in.

You obviously have an athletic past, but what was your experience level with weight training prior to working here?

I had a great strength and conditioning coach in college, but it all started in high school. My freshman year, I was just in the gym because my friends were there. But going into my sophomore year, I started lifting. That's when I started going to the 6 a.m. weights. Back then, I had the high school strength coach yelling, "You need to squat! Get lower!"

It wasn't so much a focus on technique; I was just trying to lift as heavy as I could. I was left with a sore back and lingering injuries as a result of poor form. But at that age, you're just happy to be a part of a team.




I definitely saw the results of the 6 a.m. weights. I was a skinny sophomore, but I put on weight, got a little bit faster, and saw my performance on the field increase. There was a big transition going from high school to college. I was never a fast runner before, never someone who emphasized speed. That was the next step in the progression of my physical attributes related to the game of football.

I got stronger and held the Nevada freshman clean record. But I was never too big on weights. I did just enough to get by and let my strength coach know I was in there. I'd show my face, mark down my weights, and make sure I was at least increasing in some way.

I wouldn't say it hurt me, but it may have kept me from playing at a higher level.

Tell us about when everything changed, during your senior year.

I was on the Biletnikoff [award for the most outstanding wide receiver in the nation] watch list the year Larry Fitzgerald won it. But going into my senior year, I knew something wasn't right with my body. It compromised my practice habits and created some conflicts with my coaches. My senior year, I didn't get to live up to my expectations. I was sick.

I later found out I have Crohn's disease. It was very debilitating. I lost a lot of weight, dropping at one point to 180 pounds. I wasn't able to perform at a high level, and that took away from professional scouts looking at me. It hurt my chances of playing in the NFL, a dream I'd had since I was a kid.

When I look back at my diet and my stress levels, going about my day-to-day lifestyle, it all makes sense. I had a realization that I needed to make some changes as far as my eating, health in general, and sleeping habits. I was in college, so I was partying, drinking, and doing all the typical college stuff. You have to put things in perspective when something like that happens.

Still, that blow was hard on my ego. Coming from that moment to where I am now was a big step.

How do you manage your diet today?

I manage it really well. I haven't cut meat out entirely. I still eat some chicken and other white meats. I'm allergic to fish, so I can't eat that. I'll eat a steak every once in a while, but slowly I'm cutting it all out.

I also switched my protein. I'm eating Raw Fusion now. I just ordered the MRM Elite Veggie Protein, and I like the way my body feels when I take it. I eat salads, fruits, and vegetables every day. I'm detoxing and cleansing.

Tell us about your first stint in the Arena League.

Before I started working at Bodybuilding.com at the end of 2011, I was playing with the San Jose SaberCats. I ended up with a terrible injury. I had to get PCL replacement and had a minor tear of my MCL and meniscus. A week after the surgery, I got a staph infection. I had a ton of atrophy, and it was debilitating, physically and emotionally.

Luckily, that's when I got employed here at Bodybuilding.com! There's an atmosphere here. It's fitness, athletics, it's all in the same boat. It sparked some interest for me. I became more interested in personal training. I was coaching football, just trying to stay around the game, stay present, and athletically-minded.

What was this summer like, playing in the arena league again? Was it exciting to get back out there and put on pads?

This summer was a great experience for me! I'M so thankful I was allowed to take a leave of absence from Bodybuilding.com and return to playing Arena Football. It was great to not only return to playing, but playing at a high level. I was able to make an impact in my first game back after not playing since 2011. Although my body felt like it was hit by a truck the day after my first game back, the passion and love for the game was still present.




My son was just born on June 22, 2014, a couple weeks after my most recent surgery. All these blessings come full circle. This summer, when I broke my collarbone, it allowed me to be close to him. Our relationship is so strong now. We're inseparable. A lot of things happen for a reason, and I think I'm going in the right direction.

I'm playing now with the Bodybuilding.com flag football team. Compared to how I felt even just months ago playing arena football, I feel lighter, like I can move. All the things I've learned here—and on my own, since I got certified in personal training—have really helped me. I've applied it to my training philosophy and my diet. I'm getting somewhere pretty fast.

Is personal training something you want to do as a profession?

I train a few people here, and I coach at Mountain View High school [in Boise]. It's an interest and a passion to help people reach fitness goals they never thought they could, or to help them obtain goals they have. That's big.

Every person is capable of reaching some level of fitness. Everyone is different, and anything is possible. I'm looking to grow in the personal training field, and I'm also looking to take an online massage therapy course.




There's a big market with trigger-point therapy and self-massage. I think it will really flourish.

Nichiren's Training Regimen

Warm-up
Foam Roll
    • Iliotibial Tract-SMR Iliotibial Tract-SMR Foam Roll
      Calves, legs, glutes/hips, low back, lats/shoulders/chest

15 minute total: 3 min each section, 90 sec each side.

Dynamic Warm-up
 
  • Hip Circles (prone) Hip Circles (prone) Fire Hydrant
    10 reps each way: Side, forward circles, backward circles, straight leg back, straight leg side
  • Butt Lift (Bridge) Butt Lift (Bridge) Glute Bridge
    2 sets of 10, double- and single-leg
Day 1: Full Body

Ab Ripper X: 1-3 sets of 10 reps, rest 2.5 min
Day 2: Speed/Agility
Track Workout
Speed Work
    • Sprints Sprints Sprints
      10 20-yard sprints, rest 45 sec. Repeat 2 times.

Depending on availability, use any of the following equipment: bands, parachute, harness, hill sprints, or plyometric box.
Day 3: Full Body
Chest Superset
Back Superset
Shoulders Superset
Legs Superset
Arms Superset
Abs Superset
Day 4: Speed/Agility
Track Workout
Speed Work
    • Sprints Sprints Sprints
      10 20-yard sprints, rest 45 sec. Repeat 2 times.

Depending on availability, use any of the following equipment: bands, parachute, harness, hill sprints, or plyometric box.
Day 5: Full-Body
Chest giant set
Back giant set
Shoulders giant set
Legs giant set
Arms superset

AB ripper X: 1-2 sets of 10-15 reps
Day 6: Rest/Massage
Day 7: Rest/Massage

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