How I became a ‘NewMan’
It all started for me when I was 23 years old. I was suddenly aware of the fact that I was a man and seen that way by others yet when I looked in the mirror I saw the same teenage boy staring back at me. It was time to make a change. I walked to my local gym and, like so many guys before me; I had a one on one induction with a gym instructor and told him that I basically wanted to be ‘bigger on top’.
Let’s rewind a bit. I’ve always been healthy and fit. I studied martial arts during my teens and trained as a chef when I moved to London. What I mean to say is that I had a good foundation to start with.
Back to my induction. It came from nothing more than a desire to look better and more masculine to others. The idea of getting stronger or fitter wasn’t on the agenda.
So I flirted with fitness for a few years. Looking back I was basically sailing against the wind and just standing still. I became a father at 25 and I was trying to work out how to juggle a married life, parenthood and a full time shift working job whilst finding time to train.
The catalyst came when a friend and colleague suggested that I try out for a local American football team. Being fast and confident with a reasonable level of fitness helped me strive in this amazing sport. Before long I was the starting running back. It soon became clear that I needed to be Bigger, faster and stronger to progress within the sport. My ambitious goal was to play for the UK team.
So I started reading. I spent my free time reading articles, studying apps, learning nutrition facts and fiction. And I started to learn how to train properly. I started incorporating HIIT treadmill training and Compound lifts into my routines. I even started training legs!
That’s when the gains came. It’s hard to notice yourself as you see yourself every day, but others would notice and comment. At work it became a regular thing for a colleague to joke that I was ‘on roidz’. I soon realised that there was no point defending this naive attitude but instead take it for the complement that it was. “He must be cheating to have gained that much size”. Also, as a guy, you get treated differently by other guys when you’re ‘in shape’. They seem to take you more seriously and there’s a level of respect there that I felt was missing before. I think it must be a caveman thing relating to pack orders or something. Who knows, I’m no psychiatrist, but it felt good.
It then became like a banker investing money. As they would invest more funds to earn more returns I would spend more time researching and training and enjoying the results. More results meant more work and research. It compounded the effects.
At the age of 26 I was finally aware of the importance of clean eating and nutrition. That was the final piece of the puzzle for me. When that clicked it all came together. It was the ‘tadah’ moment. By now I thought I was in better than average shape but I knew I had more in me. I walked into Sports direct one day and looked at the underwear boxes by the tills. I looked at the pictures of guys torsos and thought, “I’ve got better abs then him, why can’t I do that?”
So I started hunting for photographers with a goal to building a portfolio. Things slowly started growing and I began to promote myself on social media. I was suddenly aware that I couldn’t fit it all in and needed to make sacrifices. The American football had to stop. I never achieved my goal of playing for the UK.
In early 2015 I was on a shoot in Muscle works gym, London when I mentioned my desire to compete. The photographer mentioned the upcoming Pure Elite Show and I thought, why not? I stuck to my diet and training and got a posing coach. Before I knew it I was on the stage and showing everyone my physique in the fitness model category. It was a long day and I was gutted to have not placed but I later learned that I won the ‘male audience’ vote along with my first trophy and sponsorship with a leading nutrition brand, Bio-Synergy. I was over the moon but hungry for more.
I upped my game and learned new training and nutrition techniques. I studied my rivals and started thinking about my next competition. In late September I placed 4th in the Miami Pro Mr Universe comp and 4th in the Pure Elite World championships in November. They seem to take you more seriously and there’s a level of respect there that I felt was missing before. I think it must be a caveman thing relating to pack orders or something. Who knows, I’m no psychiatrist, but it felt good.
It’s now 2016. I’m 31 years old and feel in my prime. I’m aiming to compete in April’s Miami Pro Worlds show and depending on my result I may just take the plunge over the Atlantic to compete in the WBFF Worlds Show in Toronto. I’m also considering entering a Strong Man Competition in the summer.
I’ve still got a long way to go. The secret? There really isn’t one. I see my fitness ‘career’ as a snowball gathering momentum. It started with just a desire to look better and grew and grew. It’s only just started. I’m constantly learning and reading new ideas and training protocols as well as designing and trying my own. I’ve even taken on my first client.
I have achieved these things whilst working full time in the London emergency services juggling shift work whilst being married and having a son. I say this not to gloat or show off but to show you that it can be done. I am just a normal guy. I make the time to train and eat clean. Busy schedules aren’t a barrier I allow. It’s more than just getting ready for shows and enjoying social media followings, it’s a lifestyle. I love to share it with others and hope to inspire as many as possible to live a healthier life. Whether you want to compete, model or just look and feel so much better, make the kitchen as fun as the gym.
I can’t tell you how much my physique grew when I started eating properly. I can’t imagine living any other way.
To be continued…..
To find out more about Matt check out his ambassador page here.