Fit Team Member Spotlight: Rep It Rich!

Athletes tend to make great bodybuilders and (big surprise) bodybuilders make great employees at the world's largest fitness site,

Some of the employees at get into fitness because of their integration into the company. They have the types of skills that make the Internet the greatest invention in the history of technology, and then they get fit because the culture here is so infectious.

But others, like Rich Wilkins, were born to lift. They played sports, lived in weight rooms, and fought tooth and nail to get hired on within the world's largest online health and fitness website. Rich found comfort, assistance, and even love within the framework of Check out his story—and, if you have the guts, try his workout!

How did you start your fitness journey?

My fascination with bodybuilding started when I was 5 years old. I used to steal my father's copy of "The Education of a Bodybuilder" by Arnold Schwarzenegger, and draw pictures of the bodybuilders in it. As I got older, I read the book constantly. This helped fuel my passion for the gym and athletics.

I excelled in every sport I played in high school. I was obsessed with the gym. I loved training and researched Arnold's techniques. By my senior year, I had reached all state in football as a tight end and defensive end, leading the state in sacks. I played on the Northern All-Star team and won the award for MVP of the Northeast Kingdom Football Camp. I made all state in basketball and competed at the highest level in track and field. I placed in the top three in the 110 high hurdles, 300 intermediate hurdles, triple jump, and long jump. This qualified me to compete in the New England Track Championships against all the top athletes in New York, Vermont, Massachusetts, Maine, and New Hampshire.

"By my senior year, I had reached all state in football as a tight end and defensive end, leading the state in sacks."

I was recruited to play strong safety at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Wash., after I graduated from St. Johnsbury Academy in Vermont. After my first season, I put on a serious amount of mass and moved to linebacker. Going into my third season, I increased my weight even more, to 280 pounds, through heavy training and eating a ton. I was then moved to play tight end for my last two seasons, but I never sacrificed my weight for speed. At 280 pounds I could still run a 4.7-second 40-yard dash.

After college, my passion for the gym only increased. I understood that the NFL was a lost cause, so I dusted off Arnold's book again and set my sights on the next arena: under the hot lights, oiled up, and tanned—bodybuilding!

I focused my energy on preparing for my first show in 2011, the Emerald Cup. I placed ninth in Men's Physique among a tall class of titans. After that, my addiction to bodybuilding was set in stone. I went back to the root of it all. I stepped onstage at a lean 178 pounds and 3 percent body fat. After that show, I looked closely at the judges' critiques and at my opponents. I realized I had some work to do and some lean muscle to gain. I found a mentor, IFBB Pro Nathan Detracy.

With Nathan's help and guidance I was able to put on 22 pounds of lean muscle over a year and a half. I then set my sights on the next show, the Washington State Bodybuilding Championships. I came in at 195 pounds and 4 percent body fat. I placed third overall in the tall class and qualified for nationals.

You went to school to study graphic design. How did your studies prepare you for your role at

I originally studied in a fine arts program because of my passion for painting and art. I didn't want to narrow my professional career down to an art teacher, so design was my way out. I studied design and marketing and began working for myself as soon as I graduated from Pacific Lutheran. I started my own freelance business, Ventresca Design, and began working on small and large contracts.

My professional career and my passion for bodybuilding merged when I was offered a sponsorship from the supplement company Max Muscle before my first show at the Emerald Cup. Due to the relationships I created with this sponsorship, I started doing design work to help promote Max Muscle. I started networking within the vibrant bodybuilding community and found myself with more clients than I knew what to do with. Somewhere along the line, though, I set at the top of my career wish list. After making a few connections in the industry while working in Seattle and Arizona, I began reaching out for opportunities at the company. It was a random meeting with IFBB pro Nick Scott at the Iron Man Bodybuilding show in Seattle where I finally made my connection. After hearing his story and doing some work for him, he gave me the right contact at's corporate offices.

I was actually prepping for my last show right before I was hired on here. The amazing thing: gave me a sponsorship to compete.

Have you continued competing?

Last year I competed at the Washington State Bodybuilding Championships, where I placed third. This competition has definitely made me stronger. Having such amazing resources at my disposal by working at has given me the extra edge I need to take my completion to the next level.

How does the environment influence your health, fitness and appearance goals?

Working here is a dream. I am surrounded by professionals trying to not only take their careers to new heights, but who also a common ideal of improving our lifestyles and fitness levels. We accomplish this in many ways, whether it is through competing on stage or taking part in a charity run.

"Working here is a dream. I am surrounded by professionals trying to not only take their careers to new heights, but who also a common ideal of improving our lifestyles and fitness levels."

I have every tool I need to reach my bodybuilding goals. Just as crucially, my goals are encouraged here, and the company helps me become a better professional. We have a top-of-the-line gym onsite. My goals as a competitor are totally harmonious with my goals as a professional at

You recently got married—congratulations! How can fitness help young couples?

My wife and I are both competitors. I met her because she has her own nutrition business, No Excuses Nutrition LLC. I was looking for a nutritionist to help me prep for my next show and found the best of both worlds: a wife and a good coach! Working together as a couple with similar goals nutritionally and physically is the key for us.

"Working together as a couple with similar goals nutritionally and physically is the key for us."

I reach my goals with her encouragement, and we push each other when times get tough. This is healthy for our relationship. Working together as a team to accomplish our goals in the fitness arena can strengthens our relationship in ways we would never accomplish by trying to live separate lifestyles.

What types of activities do you enjoy outside of work and the weight room?

I enjoy the outdoors. My wife and I are really into hiking and camping in places you have to hike for miles to reach, out where there isn't a soul for miles. I also enjoy painting with acrylics and working with my hands.

What is your favorite feature on the website?

The inspiration tab. It's great that you can find others who inspire you and post that to your page. I am inspired by so many people, and I love the idea.

I have also been using BodySpace since its release. I love it! It's essential for keeping yourself accountable among like-minded fitness friends, and it is filled with a million resources to help take your fitness goals to the next level. Tracking is the key to success, and there is no better tool on the market than the BodySpace app.

How does practicing the bodybuilding lifestyle improve the productivity of

This lifestyle isn't always easy. It takes a lot of focus and dedication, but it can improve your productivity immensely. My feet don't drag when I have my gallon of water every day. I feel hydrated and full of energy. Eating six meals per day and increasing my metabolism increases my energy levels and mental focus much more than the average diet of three meals per day and a couple of Rockstar Energy Drinks, or cup after cup of coffee just to make it through the morning.

What is your lifting philosophy?

I begin each week with legs. Leg day is crucial for maximizing muscle gains throughout the body. I work my weaker muscle groups the following day, due to the release of endorphins and testosterone that is caused from training legs. I train back right after my leg day because I feel like it is a muscle group that needs a lot of attention.

"I train back right after my leg day because I feel like it is a muscle group that needs a lot of attention."

I have a slightly different theory with legs than most bodybuilders. I believe light weight can grow your legs, as long as you lift with perfect form and controlled sets. Focus is the key on all muscle groups, but especially with legs. I used to be a maniac with the heavy weight on leg day until I suffered knee injuries. I've found that some of the best legs out there were built not by the amount of weight they lifted, how well they lifted.

Make sure to stretch after each workout, and foam roll tight muscles. Focus on the mind-muscle connection. Perform reps slowly and use the muscle, not momentum.