Tuesday, April 30, 2019

CBD Protein Comes to Louisville Supplement Store

If you're stressed out - all the time - like I am, then this is music to your ears. Blueprint's Rob Nieters first tried CBD just nine months ago and in a short time, has invested a great deal of time and resources into having one of the widest selections of quality CBD products on the market. Louisville Supplement Store offers everything, imaginable, from vapes to lotions to now, protein powders!!

LSS has two great protein products, now available, a 3,350mg Cbd whey in 3 flavors
and a 1,675mg Cbd whey in 2 flavors.

I don't know about you, but 1-2 scoops of either, would not only feed hungry muscles, but would make one heck of a great meal before bed. Maybe include a tablespoon of peanut butter or some oats, depending on where you are with your macros, but you could have DEEP, RESTFUL SLEEP AND GROW!! Sounds pretty damn good to me!!

Be sure to head over to Louisville Supplement Store at 9407 Westport Rd Ste. 123, in Louisville, KY, today!! I have a feeling you're going to love it there!!

Monday, April 29, 2019

Next Level Sports Nutrition, Title Sponsors, 2019 NPC Kentucky Open

First and foremost, let me just say how happy I am to report this piece of news. Next Level Sports Nutrition is now, the official title sponsor of the upcoming, 2019 NPC Kentucky Open and Kentucky State! This is literally a match made in heaven, and here's why.

Gene and Tina Goode are shining examples of how contest promoters in the NPC should operate. They go the distance to ensure the highest level of customer service, from their family of staff, their iconic stage, and their constant giving back to the fitness community. You can see Gene and/or Tina at NPC seminars, posing clinics, in-stores and community events all throughout the state. They also go to many of the big shows, out-of-state, like the NPC Teen, Collegiate, Masters Nationals, the North American Championships, and others. They're two of the hardest working promoters in the business and they've really been through quite a lot the last two years, from losing their beloved venue in Frankfort, making a costly move to Owensboro, and now settling in their new home venue in Lexington.

Speaking of hard work, Sean and Amy of NLSN are two incredibly hardworking business owners in the fitness industry. After successfully owning and operating multiple stores in Louisville, they've expanded to Lexington. They also have an undeniable track record of creating opportunities for countless Kentucky athletes, both at the amateur and professional levels. The 502 Wrecking Crew put  many athletes on the map and gave them their big break. In addition to everything I've stated here, I also have great respect for both Sean and Amy, for giving IFBB Pro Kevin Johnson a real chance. Of all the athletes they signed, this one particular signing cost them a lot of headaches, blowback, and drama, but they put 100% of their efforts behind him and never looked back. That's the kind of heart you just gotta respect.

Kevin Johnson has a real future - he could very well be one of the few bodybuilders of his day, to make an indelible impact on the sport. He's not only a gifted poser, but one look at what 2x Women's Phyisque Champion Sarah Barnett accomplished over the last month at the Europa Orlando and the Kentucky Derby Festival Championships, and it becomes crystal clear, you're dealing with a very talented athlete. 

In closing, I hope you're all very excited about the coming contest. I have a feeling the Kentucky Open is gonna take it to the - NEXT LEVEL - in LEXINGTON :) 

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Sarah Barnett Repeats at the NPC Kentucky Derby

Contest prep guru, Tyler Bedson, hit the nail on the head when he spoke about Sarah Barnett's will to win. "Her consistency and desire to win shows, grows more and more, with each passing day." Bedson has coached Barnett to another Overall Win in Women's Physique, this time at the NPC Kentucky Derby Festival Championships. Before that, Bedson coached Barnett to a big victory at the Europa Orlando, some 800 miles away, in Florida. The Bedson/Barnett collaboration is unstoppable, as eyes on the national scene are now fixated on the Next Level Sports Nutrition athlete. Her road to pro is clear-cut and undeniable. Now it's time to push her on all fronts, with an aggressive marketing campaign, the likes of which the 502 Wrecking Crew is famous for.

That being said, a big part of the credit is owed to IFBB Pro Bodybuilder Kevin Johnson, who created Sarah's very moving posing routine. The song selection was perfect and Sarah presented a routine hugely artistic and perfectly executed - it told a story better than words ever could. Kevin is an absolute genius, but beyond that, he's a true artist. I watched the 40 second clip, no less than 15x straight, over and over and over again; it was really emotional. I honestly loved it and simply can't say enough about it. 

Kevin Johnson is the greatest poser and posing coach in Kentucky. 

Other folks who brought fantastic physiques, and who we will be looking to do interviews with at The Factory and Lift Inc, included  Tiffany Davis (a novice competitor that cleaned house!!), Rachel Jensen (who won Class F, Open Bikini), Total INSANITY between The Shredder - Chauncey Wilson and Cody Nolen, and a big win by MPD Competitor Tracy Cates, and others!

Unfortunately, and as suspected, there was zero media coverage at this event. We won't dwell on this embarrassing note, but will say that good customer service, demands that one of Kentucky's largest contests, invest in having press for the competitors.

Friday, April 26, 2019

Sarah Barnett - A Name to Watch at the NPC Kentucky Derby Festival

Next Level Sport Nutrition's Sarah Barnett's big win at the Europa Orlando made headlines, with people all throughout Kentucky cheering her on. Backed by her well-respected and sought-after guru, Tyler Bedson, this looks to be a very promising year.

Although many competitors in Kentucky won't drive more than an hour away for an NPC seminar, let alone to compete, Barnett scored a huge win at a contest over 800 miles away!! She got on a stage where no one knew her, with competitors she'd never met, and she dominated!!

When I asked Sarah about her stellar placing in Orlando, here's what the champ had to say:

"Winning the Europa Orlando was a really cool experience. It allowed me to see all of my hard work come to fruition. But I know that the work is not done as we enter in to the last week leading up to the Ky Derby show. This is a tough show, and I know the competition will be stacked. I have no idea who I will be up against, but I know it will be a tough battle regardless."

One of the things I really like about Sarah, is her mindset going into this contest tomorrow. Most people might have a big head after winning a show like the Europa Orlando, but not Sarah. She recognizes she's up against great athletes, she knows what she brings to the table, and she's ready to fight for the win! This contest is also closer to her heart, as this is where she's from, where she lives, but to be sure, I wanted her to share, directly.

"Competing in KY is important to me because it allows those that have supported me throughout this journey the opportunity to come and watch and see what show day is all about. There are quite a few people that don’t know too much about the sport that have been very supportive, so I am happy that they will be able to come and experience the day for themselves. While I enjoyed competing out of state, I also like to make sure I am supporting the events in my home state as well."

I am, personally, hoping for a repeat, and let me tell you, if that happens, Sarah will be on her way to earning a Pro Card in 2019. The Florida win, alone, puts her in position, but repeating in Louisville, that would create a literal industry wave that she could ride to the Pro Qualifier of her choice! I couldn't put the finishing touches on this article, without the words of the great Tyler Bedson. In fact, I'll close with them.

 "Sarah has a high quality work ethic. Her consistency and desire to win shows, grows more and more, with each passing day. Together we’ve been able to effectively communicate and overcome any challenge presented to us!" - Tyler Bedson

Thursday, April 25, 2019

NPCStrongKentucky Welcomes Powerstation Gym

After our wildly successful seminar featuring our NPC Mid Atlantic Zone Chairman, Gary Udit, in Newport, I have been eager to create a stronger presence in Northern Kentucky, as well as a foothold in southern Ohio. The goal is to create an unofficial, athlete-centered force, zealously loyal to the NPC, that will help grow the sport and push forward with Gary's commitment to customer service - always putting the competitors first. 

I have been extremely fortunate to find someone I trust and who I believe in 100% in the area, in Jason Theobald. In addition to my friend William Gage Miller, who's done a great deal and who I will continue to rely upon, Jason will also play a very key role. We started talking right around the seminar and have spoken at great length over the last two weeks, further defining what it is we'd like to accomplish. Jason is a driving force in the sport. He's a pro athlete, WIDELY respected and sought-after guru, co-owner of an amazing supplement company and a true believer in growing the NPC. 

The addition of Powerstation Gym is absolutely huge!! It's a facility with a Mecca-like vibe, with tons of amazing equipment, and very big names that train there. It's also strategically located, just around 50 minutes from Cincinnati/Covington, 35 minutes to Dayton, and about 80 minutes to Columbus. This is precisely the kind of foothold we wanted in Ohio, with an undeniable reach into Northern Kentucky. We really hit a home run here!!

There's a lot being discussed and planned. For now, I'd like to thank and commend my friend Jason Theobald, welcome Powerstation Gym, and wish you all, the very best!!

Monday, April 22, 2019

Where's the Media?

Imagine you're a competitor and you're getting ready for a contest, maybe it's the biggest in your state, and you've really invested a lot into it. You've hired a coach, you've altered your eating, you've purchased suits, accessories, taken time off work, booked a hotel room and paid entry fees. Nothing is going to stop you. You have, what's often loosely referred to as, tunnel vision. You're a man/woman on a mission. 

You get to the contest and look your best. You're on time for check-ins. You've got your number, your info packet, you get a great night's sleep. You're on time for tanning, you're early for the athlete's meeting, you really walk away feeling confident. You take the stage at prejudging, nailing those mandatories, holding your peak, looking very sharp, standing tall, confident. Life is good. 

You don't get lost, afterwards. You eat a sensible meal. You're back, early, for the night show. You win your class! You win the overall! You want to tell the world about your journey, about how you conquered your demons, overcame all the obstacles; you want to thank all those who helped you, you want to announce your next show, thank your coach, send love to your family, but wait... there's no media, there's no one to ask you how you did it, no articles will be written about you, no videos will be blasted all over social media. I guess you could ask your friend to point your phone at you, provided you have a friend. Maybe you just prop your phone against someone's rubber dumbbell and give a speech. Maybe you just hold your phone in your hand, trying to gather your thoughts for a 15 second story or a 60 second post. That'll be the extent of your media coverage.

Promoters who truly care about customer service, should strive to have media. Sometimes there's no media around - that does happen - but where there is, they should at least try.

Great media brings a promoter great value. Solid media means the show will gain popularity and a good promoter can easily market that popularity to sell more booths, get more competitors to enter, and sell more tickets.

Great media also makes for very happy competitors.

Sadly, some contests are more about the promoters, than they are about the competitors. This is why so many contests don't have press, don't have guest posers, and charge competitors, their trainers, and their families for absolutely everything. Customer service hasn't just taken a backseat, it's been thrown in the trunk.

Friday, April 19, 2019

With Regard to Supplement Stores

First and foremost, I'd like to thank both Rob Nieters and Travis Schnell for all their support of NPC Strong Kentucky, it's been great having them on the team. It's also been great having a partnership with Blueprint, now Louisville Supplement Store. This relationship will continue for another six weeks through their advertisement on our various pages and platforms. However, upon the end of the ad bloc, NPC Strong Kentucky will be completely unobstructed from working with any shop and any athlete it so chooses. That being said, we will more than likely not have another official shop sponsor, opting instead for our meal sponsor, gyms, and other businesses in the fitness industry.

I feel very strongly about my decision to interview all of the athletes I have. I will continue to do my best to help NPC and IFBB Pro League competitors in KY, to realize their fullest potential. Unfortunately there may be some folks, perhaps with a little clout, who stand in the way of unity, but rest assured, 2019 will not be another 2018.

With regards to any feuds, whether past, present, or future, in Louisville, the position of this page, is one of absolute neutrality. Our #1 goal to GROW the NPC in KENTUCKY.

Once again, I'd like to thank Rob and Travis for their friendship - they're great people and do a lot of good. I'd also like to thank everyone in the NPC community in The Bourbon State. 

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Major Posing Announcement Coming - 2019 Kentucky Open / Kentucky State

It seems the gym world is buzzing throughout the Bourbon State, as Kentucky Open/State promoter Gene Goode is about to make a major posing announcement regarding his upcoming event at Rupp Arena. The contest, whose home venue in Frankfort was demolished, moved to Owensboro in 2018, enjoying huge numbers. Now, in 2019, the promoters will bring the best stage in Kentucky to Lexington's most talked about venue. Everyone is super pumped, but now with the upcoming posing announcement, the anticipation is building. Initially, when I first read the post, I thought maybe it'd be GAT athlete, IFBB Pro Kevin Johnson, considered one of the greatest posers in the country, if not the world. Johnson won Goode's Kentucky State in 2012; however, upon re-reading the post, it clearly states that the person in question is female. Who could it be then?

Kentucky has some very impressive female posers. There's IFBB Figure superstar Autumn Cleveland, who was part of last weekend's wildly successful Team Hornback posing clinic, and who commands legions of diehard fans. Cleveland's posing is so on point, she's been a part of numerous clinics and featured in countless articles and media coverage.

Another big name that comes to mind, is Ms. Kentucky Donna Williams Salib. Donna guest posed years ago, as an amateur, and later as a pro. She's placed Top 5 at IFBB Pro League pro shows and has a number of fans throughout the country and around the world. Donna knows how to bring an audience to their feet and keep them engaged!!

Another possibility I had thought was maybe NLSN's Sarah Barnett, who just won the Orlando Europa last weekend and who appears on the Kentucky Open contest posters; however, Goode's announcement clearly states that the person in question is a pro. Nonetheless, Barnett, who's also doing the upcoming NPC Kentucky Derby Festival Championships, may have amassed a series of titles, if not a pro card, by the time the Open rolls around in August.

Whoever the guest poser is, Gene has certainly created a lot of buzz for his contest. I know I can't wait to find out who will be the guest poser he keeps hinting at. 

Monday, April 15, 2019

Rhea Wills - Future Social Media Superstar

There are those who dream and there are those who do. NPC Bikini Competitor Rhea Wills is a doer, a go-getter. This hardworking NPC Bikini Competitor and rising, social media star is a sponsored by Blueprint Performance and The Factory Gym (where this interview was filmed). She is also a pharmacy student, working in a hospital, yet finding the time to put her best efforts into everything she does.

As the old saying goes, where there's a will, there's a way.

Be sure not to miss this great interview.

Friday, April 12, 2019

Kentucky Head Judge, Jimmy Hornback's Clinic

If muscle is what makes the fitness world go round, then posing is what illustrates everything we love about the sport. If you were to ask bodybuilding fans who some of their greatest stars are, chances are, they'd name off people who can pose. Guys like the late Ed Corney, Bob Paris, Melvin Anthony and Kai Greene. Unfortunately many of these greats have long retired, but for folks in Louisville and the Kentuckyana region, they're in luck. Kentucky Head Judge Jimmy Hornback has got the knowledge and the eye for talent, that's made him a local legend. 

In addition to Jim, IFBB Pro and celebrated Judge, Monica Hornback, will be in the house, as well as superstars Derek Lunsford, Andre Ferguson, and local hero Autumn Cleveland. This event has it all. Will you be there?

Be sure to head on over and have a blast, both at Louisville Supplement Store, and then walk on over to LAC Westport (less than 100ft away). If you're looking to compete at the upcoming Kentucky shows, in Indiana, or abroad, the lessons you'll learn will be invaluable to you. Who knows, if you compete in one of the many contests in The MAZ offering the Best Poser award, you might just win it because of attending this fantastic event, sponsored by Louisville Supplement Store. 

Thursday, April 11, 2019

IFBB Pro Kevin Johnson Signs with Team GAT

IFBB Pro Bodybuilder Kevin Johnson of Louisville, KY, has signed with German American Technologies (GAT). The latest addition to Team GAT, joining fellow IFBB Pro Ty Robinson, shows the company's commitment to giving back, offering professional athletes an opportunity to follow through their dreams in the IFBB Pro League. Johnson, who turned professional at the 2017 NPC Nationals, is also considered one of the greatest posers in the country, if not the world.

Kevin is also a sponsored athlete with Next Level Sports Nutrition, which has stores in Louisville and Lexington, KY, and is prepped by long-time coach and friend Steve Weingarten.

In addition to being to an active competitor, recently competing at the 2019 IFBB Pro League Indianapolis Pro, Kevin trains a limited number of clients, locally. He is also available for meal plans and posing instruction. Be sure to contact him at @1MansTalent on Instagram.

For more information, on GAT, click here, and once again congratulations to Kevin for the big signing!!

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

The Idea is to GROW, not Divide

There's a reason this whole project is called NPC STRONG Kentucky. The idea is to grow the NPC, here, in the Bourbon State. While I run this unofficial, fan-based, athlete-centered page, I didn't name it. The project was named by my friend and mentor, our NPC Mid Atlantic Zone Chairman, Gary Udit. I have learned a great deal from Gary, as well as our President, Jim Manion (pictured).

I am committed to working with everyone. Have I made mistakes? Absolutely. And sooner or later, I make things right. Just recently I made things right with someone I hadn't spoken to in almost a year, even hugged it out, and I felt like a million bucks afterwards. Also, more recently, I did an interview with someone I've been wanting to do one with for a long time; however, due to ..., let's say, pressure, I didn't feel I should. I even felt the need to say I was going to do the interview beforehand, not really looking for permission, but maybe bowing to that same, pressure. I did the interview, loved doing it, and have zero regrets. Pressure creates tension, tension usually creates ill will, and from there, you have a breeding ground for feuds, rivalries, and cemented divisions.

Over the past eight months I've worked very hard to bridge some gaps in our Kentucky bodybuilding community and my hope is to continue to do so in 2019. Whether it's getting folks to meet, take a photo together, or simply "like" or double-tap each other's content on social media, it's all worked towards that end.

In the future, I'd like to see events with all supplement stores present, all teams present, and everyone having a good time. I'd like promoters to continue playing the great role they do - welcoming all companies at their NPC sanctioned contests. I'd also like to see the press, here in Kentucky, grow. We have a fantastic podcast each and every week called 2 Scoops Radio. I'm pretty sure they've referred to me as Lurch, which was hilarious (hey, at least Lurch has hair!!) Their shows are very informative and entertaining and I usually listen to at least one or two a month (and I don't even like podcasts!!). Do I agree with everything they say? No. But do they have a great show, great production value? Of course. I saw them cover last year's Kentucky Open and they did a fantastic job. How cool would it be if they covered all the Kentucky contests? I'd say, that'd be very cool, and press is what I do. The more, the merrier, because.... it GROWS THE NPC!!!

The big picture is growing the NPC - creating more opportunities, making more money, more contacts, and hopefully, more friends.

Sunday, April 7, 2019

Get with the Right kind of Sponsor!

Christian Duque and PJ Braun at the 2018 NPC Nationals.

Competitors looking to make the fitness industry a career - or at the very least, supplement their existing incomes - need to have sponsors. Sponsorships don't just amount to money in your pocket or supplements in your pantry. In many ways, having a real sponsorship, raises an athlete's profile, gives them greater credibility in an industry consumed, if not overwhelmed, by status, and opens even more doors for a hardworking competitor. I don't care how many titles you've amassed, you don't want to walk around without sponsors. In fact, look at 7x Mr. Olympia Phil Heath. When he went for #8, he was probably the only bodybuilder on that stage without a supplement contract. Contracts don't affect your physique or, much less, your placings, but anyone, even a reigning Mr. O, without one - just looks weak. And for the record, not all sponsorships are created equally.

So what all does having the right sponsor mean, anyways? 

The right sponsor is a company that takes care of its athletes; it's a company that invests into that athlete, be it featuring them in pop-ups at events, ads in magazines or on websites, and who uses said athlete in marketing campaigns, maybe has shirts made for them, and/or puts them in a prominent place at expos and/or big events. Look at how GAT treats Big Ramy, how Allmax treats Steve Kuclo, or even better examples, how BSN treated Ronnie and/or Muscletech treated Jay. Yes, big paychecks are nice and certainly worth every penny, but the right sponsors can make a rising star, a superstar.

Take my friend PJ Braun, CEO and President of Blackstone Labs, with natural IFBB Pro League Classic Pro Keone Pearson. PJ signed this amazing athlete and put tons of resources into promoting him like only a company like Blackstone can. Whether it was doing podcasts with Keone and his coach, IFBB legend Flex Wheeler, or it was raving about him over countless cardio confessionals to BSL diehards, PJ (a former, top tier national level NPC bodybuilder) made a point of putting all of his considerable cred behind a new competitor. He not only pushed Keone, but he defended the fact he was 100% Natural for these contests. He didn't have to do that, but when a competitor signs to a competitor-owned and operated company, it's a different story than working for a suit. Everything Keone went through, PJ went through. Also, unlike other companies where you can potentially answer to any number of corporate officers and/or a constantly changing roster of bigwigs, with closely-held companies, you deal with the owner(s) directly. That's another thing that makes a company like BSL, the right kind of sponsor. 

The right kind of sponsor pushes its athletes, gives them even more opportunities, and truly helps them grow a larger, stronger audience. These companies see the big picture; they're keen to the fact that the more reach their athletes have, the more it will benefit the company as well. The ROI game is a complex one, but it's not rocket science. The reason most companies don't operate this way, is because athletes usually end up being used like cannon fodder. This is why so many great competitors bounce around companies, because the companies under-pay and over-work them. Would you be a loyal to a company that wanted everything, but did nothing for you? That's the wrong kind of sponsor.

If you're good to your athletes, they'll be good to you. Some companies, however, go above and beyond just being good. Going back to Keone, he's a superb athlete who's earned his gains and truly perfected his craft, but he's also hit the jackpot in having a legend like Wheeler in his corner and a sponsor like Blackstone Labs behind him. I mean, just think about the huge honor to be assessed by Steve Weinberger at the East Coast Mecca of Bodybuilding, days out from one of the biggest contests of your life!! That sort of thing, doesn't just happen, it's the product of many peoples' hard work, behind an athlete. It's truly a movement.

The truth of the matter is this, you can pretend like you don't need sponsors, but if you're serious about taking the next step, then you need to humble yourself and get real. The magazines are dead and the ones still hooked up to life support machines aren't signing exclusivity deals anymore. Long gone are the days you'd get $2k-$5k automatically deposited into your account each month, whether you shot or not, because you couldn't work with anyone else (assuming anyone else even wanted to work with you). The bottom line is, the gravy train - that was the magazines - stopped dead in its tracks about ten years ago. With the advent of more cellphone-friendly social media apps like Instagram, it flooded the industry with a whole new dimension of competition. Many companies would rather hire 10 Men's Physique or Bikini competitors than one or two, very well-paid bodybuilders. Most companies won't even look twice, let alone once, at muscular women. But this is where the old school mentality should kick in. Muscle sells; muscle is what makes the fitness world go round; you just need to know HOW to market that muscle, market your journey, and market yourself. 

Provided you're hungry enough, relentless in your approach, and seize every opportunity to get on the radar of someone like PJ Braun, then it just be you signing that big contract! Who knows, it might be you at the (East Coast) Mecca, you on the massive banners at the Arnold, it might be you getting shot by Jeff Binns, Amir, or maybe even the biggest legend of them all, J.M. Manion. Can this fairy-tale, happy-ending, be the culmination of all your efforts? I guess you'll just have to give it 110% and see.