I started bodybuilding sixteen years ago to gain attention of others, mainly because my parents wouldn't let me play football. I knew I had to do something, so I thought "why not weights?" I can remember going into the gym for the first time - my mother took me and sat there while I worked out (the first of many times).
In The Beginning...
I knew from the first time I picked up a dumbbell and started curling it that I was hooked. It didn't take me very long to start developing and I knew I had the genetics for it, due to the fact that I was stronger and developed faster than many of my friends.
It wasn't until after about a year of training when I saw my first competitive bodybuilder in person - Keith Sigmund, a former Mr. North Carolina. I can remember having my picture taken with him and saying to myself, "I want to look just like that!"
Me & Kevin Sigmund (1988).
Three years later, I had entered my first competition, "Clash of the Carolina" in Gastonia, NC. I was sixteen years old, and had been training under the guidance of close friend and drug-free champion bodybuilder, Gene Howell. When I was filling out the entry form, I remember telling the judges that I was there to win! I had only dieted approximately three weeks and was ripped to the bone for a sixteen-year-old.
My metabolism was so fast that I ate an ice cream cone between Pre-Judging and the night show. The end result was a win - unanimous! The judges were crazy about me and wanted me to do the State Championships in two weeks!
My trainer, Gene, told me to take a year off and wait, but me (being new at this and being so hungry to win), I went against his word and competed anyway - to finish 2nd!
Throughout the years, I competed and won everything I entered. I had graduated high school and moved to Tampa, Florida with hopes of turning Pro, drug-free. I was training at Gold's Gym and met a former Mr. America, Rick Poston, who gave me much guidance about what the sport was really like.
I entered the Teen Nationals to place a disappointing sixth place and only to realize that you can't do it drug-free. I was crushed, and knew right then and there that I was through with bodybuilding.
Life went on, and I went to college and tried it again only with some pharmaceutical help. I had competed through college in some regional shows and placed fairly high.
After college, I got a job working with the best supplement distributing company in the country, Europa Sports Products. I had figured with my eight years of retail experience and degree in Exercise Science I would be a huge asset to the company.
After working there for a year, I decided to compete again in the NC State Championships, which I won unanimously! I knew right then that I had to make a decision to get on with my career or be a bodybuilder.
A year later, Europa opened their second location in Fresno, California, and offered me a position there. I took it and thought "What a chance to make my career take off both in bodybuilding and with Europa!" I had set my sights on the next step in bodybuilding - the Junior Nationals.
Having to work extremely long hours to get the new location off and running and keep up intense training became extremely difficult. I was trying to do both - which helped me end up with a tenth place finish at the Juniors...
Dax At The Junior Nationals.
It wasn't until three months ago that I had to decide to continue competing or be successful with my career - I couldn't do both. I had gone through life and sacrificed many experiences for bodybuilding and wish to this day that I hadn't had done them. However, I must thank the sport of bodybuilding - otherwise I wouldn't be where I am today!
Now at present, I'm very happy with my decision. Just because I gave up competing doesn't mean that I had to give up my passion for it. I live it everyday - it's my true love. I will always train hard and eat well, and supplement my diet with the proper things it needs to stay healthy and strong.
So, for those of you that are at my stage in life, think about where you're going in life and what the outcome may bring. I know we can't always tell what the future holds, but we can make a difference by choosing the right direction through rational thinking.