On July 28-29, the 2006 NPC USA Championships will again host some of today's best amateur bodybuilders. One competitor who has steadily worked his way up the amateur rankings, and is currently on target for his best showing ever at this competition, is the popular and physically impressive Jerome Ferguson.
Jerome, who runs his own personal training company, Fit 4 Life, has over the past six years established himself as a front-runner in whatever contest he enters.
From humble beginnings, 12th at the 2001 USA, to an impressive 2nd at the same contest in 2005, the word quit is not part of Jerome's vocabulary. He considers himself a balanced person who has a love for bodybuilding, someone who will continue to improve until his goals are met.
Jerome's main goal is to turn professional and make a difference in this capacity through spreading a positive message wherever he goes. As a positive person with boundless energy, he should deliver on this promise.
As an inspirational role model who lives the fitness lifestyle every day, Jerome, with his infectious optimism, exudes a winner's mentality. With his amazing physique, he should have no trouble making a big impact at next week's USA. In the following interview Jerome explains what he has done to prepare for this contest, and gives some insight into what makes him such a popular bodybuilder.
[ Q ] In one week you will be competing in arguably the biggest contest of your life, the USA. How do you feel going into this show?
You know what? I feel totally awesome. It is like a dream come true. A lot of things go through your mind. For example, a lot of people say, "You will never be a pro bodybuilder," or, "You will never make it to that next level at the USA." Then there are people that have faith in you who say, "J, I have faith in you, you can do it."
Another thing that goes through your mind are the people out there who are trying to reach their goals and dreams and sometimes give up. I never gave up. I just kept showing up. I sit here smiling because I know that day is coming. I am making my mark. Just to be having this interview is an honor. So I feel you should just show up and do it. It is like your dream can come true.
[ DR ] Are you on target for a good showing come July 28?
Oh yeah. I just left Tom - he just looked at my physique - and everything is perfect.
[ DR ] So very confident going into the show?
Yes, 110% on that one.
[ DR ] In what ways has your physique improved compared to when you last competed?
I have to give Charles Glass props. Charles bought up some different muscle fibers, even in my legs. I didn't think my legs could improve anymore, but they are now a freakier phenomenon, and my back is bigger. I just put on more size overall, I am now bigger and fuller while keeping the same small waist and conditioning. Muscles I didn't even think were there just popped out.
[ DR ] Specifically what kinds of fibers have improved?
It's weird, kind of like everything has improved. When I do the side chest, even though I had good
hams, there is just so much more going on in this area now. Even in the standing to the front relaxed pose, my quads separate differently. My back drops down a little lower, and has a little more detail. It's like someone waved a magic wand.
[ DR ] What exactly did Charles do to get you into this kind of condition?
We did a lot of unorthodox stuff. Even with squats he made me go right to the bottom to where my knees were actually going over my toes. Theoretically you think, "Dude, you never bring your knees over you toes." But he did this, and I wrapped them, and it worked.
We would also do reverse hack squats and a one leg vertical leg press - the leg press really got the glutes. With back he got me to put my elbows forward with the pull down, while keeping my back straight rather than arched. I don't want to give too much away, but Charles can find those crazy things that work man.
[ DR ] Whom else did you have on your team?
Well I have to continue to give props to Tom Prince. He tweaked my diet to keep me fuller, and I'm much fuller this time around than I was. His scientific mastermind put together a great nutritional program for me, which kept me holding muscle while I worked with Charles to keep putting it on. It is like a dream come true, it's perfect.
My key this year was to start preparing right after last years USA for this year. In fact, I made sure I stayed in good condition all year round. I ate clean foods in the off-season, real foods. I didn't let my ego get in the way of achieving size. Just showed myself some love and believed in my physique. So when it came time to bring it all together, it all came together.
[ DR ] What exactly did Tom do to give you greater fullness going into this years USA?
I don't want to give too many of his secrets away, but we did increase the grams of
protein. It is hard to explain how he works, he just seemed to be moving stuff around, and he added a few things. This year I feel like I had more sodium, and this allowed me to stay in condition all year round.
I had teriyaki sauce, barbecue sauce, and just any sauce you could want dude. I sauced it up. Steak with barbecue sauce tastes really good. I think the biggest thing was I stayed in condition all year round. I didn't have to do a whole lot of cardio in comparison to previous years. We just did everything right. We had faith and believed.
[ DR ] How much cardio did you do leading up to this contest?
We went up to 35 minutes of cardio, twice a day. We started off light at 20 minutes and each week we added more, going up five minutes. The most cardio I did for maybe a couple of weeks was 35 in the morning and 35 in the evening.
[ DR ] Just general cardio, not HIIT?
Just general, regular cardio. I have a little secret thing: I get on what I call the gauntlet (the stepper). I do this in the beginning, when I first start coming down at about 16 weeks out. I get on that gauntlet and I put in work, work and more work. I just work myself until I can get off the gauntlet.
Then I move onto the treadmill and try to hang on the treadmill as much as I can before moving onto the bike, the Cadillac. Once you have made it to the Cadillac you are in shape, you know. But before then you have to get on that gauntlet and beat it up.
[ DR ] What is your strategy for the final week leading into the USA?
Nothing new. Just today (Sunday) we finished chest and back before the remainder of the pre competition period. Tomorrow we will hit biceps triceps and delts, and Wednesday we will take off. Today is my last 20 minutes of cardio. It is just, "Dude let me have some carbs." I just checked my
nutrition list and he added a few more carbs compared to last year. Everything is perfect this year.
[ DR ] It has to be a hard job trying to dial a person in before a big show, given all athletes are different. You must have to put 100% trust in Tom to get it just right for you.
I really would have to give it all to Tom. It's weird because I could write up the program and do it, but it just doesn't tune the car right. I feel if you leave it to someone else, like Tom, who actually knows what they are doing, it takes all the mental pressure off you.
I think mentally you can screw yourself up by thinking too much. When you think too much you stress, and when you stress your body doesn't work well. I choose to be happy man; I'm all about love, happiness and living - not suffering.
Bodybuilding doesn't have to be a suffering sport. It gives you focus and clarity of life, for me it is not about suffering. What I do with Tom is to turn it all over to him so I don't have to suffer. I don't have to worry about whether I am doing everything right, stressing about whether I should be doing a certain thing or second-guessing myself.
[ DR ] Is there anything else you did differently to prepare this time round? How else did you eliminate the stress that usually goes with pre-contest preparation?
I just chose to be happy. You know, you can make a choice. Regardless of what is going on around you, you can make the choice to be happy. Through all this chaos I chose to remain the same person. I am going to be a beautiful person, I'm all about love and I'm going to be happy. If something pops up unexpectedly, I will just deal with it.
You wouldn't believe it but Friday night my hot water heater broke, so I go down to the bottom of my house and there is a flood. I stayed happy. Just went outside with a flashlight and turned the water off at 1:30 in the morning, right in the middle of dieting and everything worked out good.
[ DR ] You seem to have a very positive outlook on life. Is there anything you do to maintain this attitude?
You just have to find good in everybody. If you just pause and just keep yourself full of goodness, goodness comes around you. It's all about love baby. I know how hard people work to make their dreams come true, and I have compassion for them. I know how people can give up and I have compassion for them. By me focusing and trying, and not giving up, it just gives me so much compassion for everybody.
Interestingly, the guy that came over to look at my hot water had MS (multiple sclerosis). I asked him if he did something by falling or something and he said, "No, I have MS." I'm looking at him walking into my house with MS. And I have no reason to be happy?
I keep everything in perspective. All there is is a God-given talent for me to be the best bodybuilder, and I will be the best bodybuilder to represent the sport the way it should be represented. It is a talent; it's not about ego. If my talent can take me to a level to make difference in peoples lives, then that's what it is there for. Just like Ray Charles being a singer. It is a God-given talent you use to better the world.
[ DR ] Speaking of talent. Should you win at the USA, what would be your immediate goals?
I would like to start by giving some seminars, to talk to people and let them know that they can do it too. Just to be able to show some love. You want to be able to give something back, to let them know, hey we did it, not just for me but for everybody who just hung in there and kept showing up, that have gone through all this craziness. Just let people know they can do it if they work hard. Whether their dream is to play
football or graduate from law school.
[ DR ] You would like to get out there and change people's attitudes for the better?
Exactly, that is what I would love to do.
[ DR ] What else would you like to achieve as a pro? Any 2007 shows should you win the USA?
It's really weird. What I am going to do is just sit back and let the shows choose me. I will sit back and pause, and find what picks me. In this sport, once you get momentum going you have to stay with this momentum. Phil Heath did it the best way.
He picked the Colorado - a brand new show - and he won it. Then he picked the New York show and got that one. Rather than try to go to the Arnold and the Iron Man. It's like you have to sit back and not rush into anything. Once that door opens for you, you have to just put your feet in there.
[ DR ] You would like to use your momentum rather than take a risk?
Yes, I would just like to use the momentum that I have to take me to the next level, to put me in the place I need to be in. I really love to compete and I would love to be all the shows, but I need to do what I need to do.
[ DR ] What are your long-term bodybuilding goals? Any aspirations to compete in the Olympia?
Of course, everybody would love to step on that Olympia stage. That is the whole thing. To really make a difference there, not just to get in the top ten, but also to say, "Here is a beautiful physique." That is why I would like to keep my physique as an art piece rather than try to pack on all this size. To be able to step on that Olympia stage and get top five or so, and show the crowd a beautiful body.
[ DR ] How old are you now Jerome?
I am 37, baby!
[ DR ] So you have come a long way? What were you like when you started out?
Well I never really had that big of an ego, I have always been a humble person. I would call it a bull mentality. It is one of those things like, 'I just got to have it.' Instead of just letting it take care of itself. It was almost like it was my way. I can do this. There is no such thing as can't. You know, it is true, but you need to do it a more loving way. You need to have more love for yourself - rather than just sacrificing yourself to get it done.
Hair: Dark Brown
Jerome's Contest History:
Gold's Classic - NPC, Overall Winner
Gold's Classic - NPC, Heavyweight, 1st
Los Angeles Championships - Overall Winner
USA Championships - NPC, Super-Heavyweight, 12th
California Championships - NPC, Super-Heavyweight, 2nd
USA Championships - NPC, Super-Heavyweight, 11th
USA Championships - NPC, Super-Heavyweight did not place
Nationals - NPC, Super-Heavyweight, 4th
North American Championships - IFBB, Heavyweight, 2nd
USA Championships - NPC, Super-Heavyweight, 2nd
North American Championships - IFBB, Heavyweight, 3rd
[ DR ] How is your personal training business going?
It is going cool, but I think I will take this week off because last week. I trained people right up until Saturday. I found it hard to balance my food. Given this week is so critical, I'm going to call my clients and tell them that I need the week off. If I'm working this means I can't eat properly.
To get all those meals in, I need to have total control over it. Other than that, I just love training people. I love people and I love training people: my oldest client is 82 years old. I love giving something back and making a difference in peoples lives.
[ DR ] Do you consider the love you have for people the key to your success as a trainer?
Yes, I do. The reason I train people is because I love people. I would do it for free if it weren't for this big pile of bills sitting there. I love to take a person and change their life, because if you can change a person's body, their life will change.
If you can show them positive love for themselves as their body changes, or just have their life change because they are feeling better about themselves, that is a beautiful thing. This will affect everybody around this person, so you are giving a touch of love to everybody. You either make a difference or you don't, and I'm all about making a difference.
[ DR ] So training someone can provide them with greater benefits than just an improved body.
Exactly, it's what I call Fit for Life. What I like to say is physical fitness isn't just about muscle. It is about striking a balance.
[ DR ] As far aa striking a balance for yourself goes, what do you do in your spare time to take your mind away from all the training and dieting?
Right now I spend a lot of time with my daughter, Jewelia, who just turned eight.
[ DR ] A great goal. To finish this interview, is there anything you would like to add, a final message?
I would just say it is all about balance. What I have done with my life is to find a balance. I just hope I can get with a really good supplement company and reach out through them and be able to give back. I want to also be able to make a difference in the world with a good supplement company.
[ DR ] Is there anyone other than Charles Glass and Tom Prince that you would like to thank for helping you to get to where you are today?
I would definitely like to thank Peter McGough, Greg Merritt and Shawn Perrine from Flex Magazine. Those guys believed in me. Letting people know what I'm all about through Flex really touched my heart. I just got so many e-mails from that exposure.
I would also like to give Bodybuilding.com a lot of love for putting me on their show, The Fit Show. I got so many e-mails from there that I couldn't even answer them all. People are saying, "Jerome, you are our hero." Bodybuilding.com has definitely kept me out there.
Bicep Training W/ Jerome Fergusson!
|The Fit Show - 10/31/2005
This week we've got what you all have been asking for, an episode with arm training. Get ready for a bicep workout with the one and only Jerome Fergusson, followed by a look at healthy living with NPC competitor Tony Dodd.