2009 Naturalmania Masters Winner Mark Tilden Shares Experience!

Despite being forty two years old, a new chapter began in my bodybuilding and fitness career... Find out how it all started and where it has led. Read on.

Article Summary:
  • Mark enters a contest held by a natural bodybuilding magazine.
  • The contest opens new doors for him that he'd just dreamed of before.
  • At a later competition he competes in 3 divisons and loves the results.
  • First of all, I would like to thank Ryan DeLuca and his staff at Bodybuilding.com for their continued support of natural bodybuilding and the career I have found in it. My dreams and aspirations are finally becoming a reality due to the faith Bodybuilding.com has put in me.

    I Would Like To Thank Ryan DeLuca And His Staff At Bodybuilding.com For Their Continued Support Of Natural Bodybuilding.
    + Click To Enlarge.
    I Would Like To Thank Ryan DeLuca And His Staff At Bodybuilding.com
    For Their Continued Support Of Natural Bodybuilding.

    It feels great knowing I have what it takes to succeed in this sport because I have such a great support system believing in me after all these years.


    A New Chapter Begins

    Despite being forty-two years old, a new chapter began in my bodybuilding and fitness career just under one year ago. I was referred by my physician, Dr. Kent Kreuder, to a particular magazine which promotes natural bodybuilding and guys like me who are serious about fitness. He had a connection I just couldn't pass up. It was Mr. Cheh Low of Chelo Publishing. The first thing I did, of course, was buy the magazine. It was "EXERCISE for Men Only,".

    It was hard to ignore the offer I found inside to compete for the title of "Mr. Exercise," which presented the possibility of magazine exposure and a chance to compete nationally on stage in the Big Apple for a fitness modeling contract, both of which I have only dreamt of doing since my career in this sport began over 20 years ago.

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    I promptly filled out the application, wrote a small bio, added a few pictures from a recent bodybuilding show and sent it in with my entry fee hoping for the best. A couple weeks went by and to my amazement, when I made a follow-up call to make sure they had received my application, they had already chosen me as their newest winner. My wife, Allison, and I were both elated!


    The Perks

      The first of the perks for winning this title came just a few weeks later with a trip to sunny California for a professional photo shoot with Ken Sergi of Serg Studios in San Diego. After anxiously waiting for almost four months, a handful of those photos were finally published in the September issue of Exercise for Men Only where I was named Mr. Exercise for September 2009.

      This was only the start of my dream come true, but it was well worth the wait! I spent five long months on the rest of my new endeavor trying to get as big as I could and as ripped as I could for the showdown to begin among all the other Mr. Exercise winners of the year, which was coming up in New York City on September 19th.

    This Was Only The Start Of My Dream Come True.
    + Click To Enlarge.
    This Was Only The Start Of My Dream Come True.

      Thus began the second half of my dream-come-true at the Gatorz Mr. Fitness Contest and the INBF Naturalmania Nationals Bodybuilding Championships Super Pro-Qualifier.

      Allison and I landed in New York on September 18th a bit uncertain yet extremely hopeful that this was truly God's plan for the next step in my fitness career. Knowing that every one of my steps is ordained by Him ahead of time, we had all the faith in the world that this would prove to be a weekend to remember forever.


    Pre-Judging

      The show began with pre-judging on Saturday, September 19th at 9:00 am. There were over 75 male & female competitors buzzing about with nervous excitement for the days' events. I weighed in at 170 lbs. after a much disciplined year and a half of clean, high octane protein and carbs.

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      With this combination of high calories, extra glutamine, multivitamin and enough sleep, my muscle gains and development have been better than ever. Needless to say, I felt pretty confident going into this show knowing I had already proven my own personal quote, "Bodybuilding is the only sport that an athlete can actually get better at with age."


    Stepping On To The Stage

      Once it was time to get on stage, I felt great peace, knowing I had done everything in my power to be ready for this moment. The first class I competed in was the Master's Over 40 in which there were 9 middle-aged guys, all in great shape. There were a few rounds of quarter turns and just a couple of the other compulsory round poses.

      It wasn't long before we were ushered off the stage and I was preparing for the Open Men's Middleweight division. This one seemed to be a bit more grueling with quite a few rounds of quarter turns as well as a number of repeated specialty poses in the compulsory round.

      Mark Tilden At The 2009 Northwestern Natural & Pro Atlas Bodybuilding & Figure Championships. Mark Tilden At The 2009 Northwestern Natural & Pro Atlas Bodybuilding & Figure Championships.
      Enlarge Click Image To Enlarge.
      Mark Tilden At The 2009 Northwestern Natural & Pro Atlas Bodybuilding & Figure Championships.
      View More Pics Of Mark Tilden At The 2009 Northwestern Natural & Pro Atlas Bodybuilding & Figure Championships.

      After considerably more sweat and fatigued muscles, we were finally able to leave the stage and begin prepping for the next phase in the competition, the Fitness Modeling category.


    The Fitness Modeling Category

      This is where winning the Mr. Exercise title from Exercise for Men Only magazine came in to play. There was prize money to be won along with the possibility of a fitness modeling contract which was quite a motivational factor, for me at least.

      There were 13 competitors in that division and all of us were required to wear a type of swim trunk throughout prejudging as well as the night show. This was new for me, but a welcome change from the barely clad competition suits worn for bodybuilding.

      It was interesting to see the different kinds of swimwear chosen by the different competitors. The idea was to show off as much muscle as possible while still maintaining the look and poise of a fitness model rather than a ripped up, beefy bodybuilder.

    The Idea Was To Show Off As Much Muscle As Possible While Still Maintaining The Look And Poise Of A Fitness Model.
    + Click To Enlarge.
    The Idea Was To Show Off As Much Muscle As Possible While
    Still Maintaining The Look And Poise Of A Fitness Model.

      I found it particularly challenging to showcase my most muscular features without using bodybuilding poses to do so. Luckily my wife had been watching some of the other more seasoned fitness modeling competitors who went ahead of me, and was able to coach me through the changes in form.

      We did a four point stop and pose, using the entire area of the stage while hip-hop music was being played. It seemed much more laid back even though they had us up there for quite a while just standing in a "relaxed" position, if you can call it that when you're trying to flex every muscle in your body to stay tight while maintaining the GQ look.

      They had us perform numerous quarter turns as well, but compared to the constant flexing in the quarter turns and compulsory rounds required in bodybuilding, it was easy. Although I felt a bit out of my element, it was an incredible experience and is definitely an area of fitness that I would love to venture into more in the near future. However, my passion is first and foremost bodybuilding.

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    Conclusion

    With the number of competitors in each of the three divisions I competed in as well as the level of competition, I was very content with the outcome of each division announced at the night show. The judges placed me first in the Masters over 40 as well as first in the Open-Middleweight classes.

    There was a different set of judges that rotated in for the Fitness Modeling division, who placed me third out of the thirteen in that division.

    Considering that each division consisted of extremely developed and polished competitors, I couldn't have been more delighted to have been placed where I was in all three categories; especially when considering that according to WNBF regulations, if there are more than five competitors in an Open Weight class (at this particular show only), the winner of that division earns their Pro card. Therefore, my first place win in the Open-Middleweight class granted me Pro status and qualified me to compete in the WNBF World Championships to be held on November 14, 2009 back in New York City.

    I Couldn't Have Been More Delighted To Have Been Placed Where I Was.
    + Click To Enlarge.
    I Couldn't Have Been More Delighted
    To Have Been Placed Where I Was.

    I am continuing to prepare for the next challenge in my career in this sport and plan to continue proving that hard work, discipline, focus and perseverance really can lead to dreams come true.