Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Jodie Engle - One Step Closer - 2019 NPC USA's

First and foremost, I'd like to say how proud I am of my friend, NPC Women's Physique Competitor, Jodie Engle. Jodie just got back from a stellar outing at the 2019 NPC USA Championships in Las Vegas, NV, where she earned an impressive Top 5 placing. Most bodybuilding fans understand the hierarchy of NPC contests and would be quick to congratulate Jodie, with new coach James Brown in her corner. For newer fans of the sport, it's important to understand that getting Top 3 at a junior level national show (e.g. Junior USA's, Junior Nationals), then getting a Top 5 at a (full-fledged) national-level pro qualifier (e.g. USA's, Nationals, Universe, and North Americans) is a significant step up (most certainly not, down). An easy way to distinguish the level between junior and (full-fledged) national-level pro qualifiers, is as simple as seeing which contests give pro cards to bodybuilders. Bodybuilders don't get pro cards at Junior Nationals or Junior USA's - even the bodybuilder who wins it all, doesn't get one.

I spoke to Jodie in the days before heading out, briefly while she was at the contest, and late last night. I wanted to make sure this piece got as much of her story in it, as possible. To say she was happy with the experience would be the understatement of the century. "This was by far the most fun I have ever had at any show I have ever done - from start to finish, everything went smoothly, thanks to my coach James Brown. He told me to simply get on the plane and get to Vegas and let him handle everything else. He did exactly that. I literally did not even have to think; he handled everything for me, so huge thank you to my coach!"

That being said, to simply sum up this contest as smiles and trophies, would hardly be accurate. Jodie embarked on a journey full of hurdles, but what ever obstacle life put in her way, she saw to overcoming it. This woman is a trooper! If you ever count her out, be afraid - be very afraid. If you think all Jodie will ever be is a local champion, you've probably been wiping the egg of your face for quite some time, especially as her star continues to rise.

"Not too many people realize everything I endured during this prep - from a major break-up, job changes, 16 hour workdays (6 days a week) and finally quitting a job to solely focus on prep. To say this journey showed me I am a lot more capable than I ever imagined, would hit the nail on the head." - Jodie Engle

2019 has been a very good year for Kentucky's top, amateur, Women's Physique competitor. Countless women look up to her, want to follow in her footsteps, and countless more across the country (and eventually around the world) will be inspired by this hardworking career professional, mom, and soon to be pro athlete. The next step from here, will be an 8 month improvement season, followed by taking the stage at the 2020 NPC Junior Nationals!

 "To everyone who has watched and supported me these past 32 weeks all I can say is, thank you, your support means more than you could ever realize.
I'm far from done, everyone! The fire lit under me is burning hotter than ever and PLEASE quote me on this.. with James Brown in my corner, I WILL get my pro card in Chicago next year." - Jodie Engle 

Saturday, July 27, 2019

Michelle Jackson - A New Voice for Kentucky's Fitness Community

Michelle Jackson on Facebook LIVE

About a couple weeks ago, while surfing around Facebook, I stumbled upon a LIVE Chat hosted by NPC Figure Competitor Michelle Jackson. I interviewed her at The Factory Gym in Louisville a few months ago and have stayed in loose contact with her since. From what I know of her, she's an incredibly hard working and committed athlete, trainer, and competitor. When our first interview wasn't able to happen, she came back a second time to Louisville (from E-Town), to make sure it happened. To say I've always been impressed with her, would be an understatement - Michelle has some clear-cut, undeniable ambassadorial qualities, and a work ethic, second to none.

The Facebook LIVE Chat I got to watch showed me a different side of her than when we'd interviewed. She wasn't talking about contest prep, competing, and/or anything of the sort. She was talking about real life, her life, and she was able to do it on a live situation. Imagine opening up about your feelings, with questions coming your way, and being able to pay your viewers attention, meanwhile carrying on with your thoughts. She did a very good job and I knew I had to reach out to her. 

I was supposed to fly out to Gary Udit's 2019 NPC Teen, Collegiate, Masters Nationals, and I was running a bunch of errands, but I asked Michelle to give me a call and we spoke for about 30 minutes. The topic of the conversation, was the idea of her doing her own weekly show. It's a conversation I've had with only one other person, Kendall Norris of Lexington, who would also do an excellent job. 

Since our conversation, Michelle has released three more videos. I don't believe she has a name for the series, just yet, but she's planning on launching a YouTube channel and in time I will help her with logistics, marketing, and hopefully getting some sponsors. With regards to sponsors, however, I'm starting to change my game plan. Local is better when buying fruits and vegetables, but a lot of local sponsors are for the birds. If we got Michelle with 1-2 solid, regional/national sponsors, there's no limit to what she could.

Also, I think it's about time women had a voice. A big part of successful media, is representing various perspectives, and I think the male-dominated media could definitely use a break from the monotony. 

Friday, July 26, 2019

re: Chauncey Wilson's Big Annoucement

It's very unfortunate that one of Kentucky's most promising IFBB Pro's, Chauncey "The Shredder" Wilson, has had to go public with a situation that could not be resolved between him and his former sponsor. When Chauncey won the NPC Kentucky Derby Festival Championships, several companies rushed to get him to ink deals. Upon turning professional, at the 2019 NPC Junior USA Championships, I spoke with Chauncey and Jason [Theobald], regarding the idea of renegotiating contracts and moving forward as a pro. Both of these guys had some great ideas of their own, so I just added to them.

I became aware of Chauncey's situation almost immediately. I tried to apply some pressure, but was unsuccessful. I was also made aware of another athlete of the company in question, going through some unusual issues. That athlete was momentarily dropped, then taken back, after some efforts. That same athlete was once again in limbo when a certain sale took place, but last I was told, I was promised (actually), that his place was safe. I'm intentionally being vague, so my apologies for that, but I don't want to jeopardize anyone's gig.

When it comes to NPC and IFBB Pro League athletes in Kentucky, this page will go to bat for them. This page isn't tied to a contest and it's 100% unofficial. Anyone who wants to try to get me in trouble for that, knock yourself out.

On the other hand, the truth of the matter is, if you don't work, you get cut. Companies sponsor athletes and they have certain expectations (contained in signed contracts). If you're supposed to post a code, post photos, and/or be active on social media, then the athletes have to live up to that. If they don't, then they deserve to get cut. But let's qualify this a bit, too. If an athlete has won a major regional contest, then won a national-level show and turned pro, and is in peak weak for his/her pro debut (not to mention earning a Top 6 placing), all in a 2 month period, those are pretty unique circumstances. With the amount of success enjoyed and the various stages where said competitor is earning top placings, whether or not he/she posts 2x on IG seems pretty trivial - if you ask me. If an athlete is winning huge contests, wearing a company's attire and promoting said company on press, that seems 100x more powerful than reposting a bogo or hyping up a sale where you can get a free shaker cup on IG.

Then again, if the company in question wasn't happy, they could have severed the contract, but not paying for Chauncey's expenses on an approved trip? Also, not paying any part of the renegotiated contract, is also inappropriate and shows bad faith. I have a real problem with companies who sign athletes, make promises which athletes detrimentally rely on, and then simply leave the athletes with the bills for their hotel, contest fees, and per diems, standing there, SOL. I also have a real problem with companies who agree to advertise, give assurances they'll pay, and then later on decide they don't want to pay and just go about their merry way.

I don't just do contest coverage for a living.. one of these days.. one of these days.

I'm very sorry Chauncey is going through this.

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Kentucky, IFBB Pro's Team Up

Chauncey Wilson assesses Richard Sparks.

IFBB Pro's Jeremy Decker and Chauncey "The Shredder" Wilson are great friends, both elite level athletes, and both work very hard. While they're accomplished competitors, they're not the type to brag or be full of themselves. Do they have self-confidence? Yes. Do they ever act better than anyone else? Never.

These guys also have history, a great story, indeed. Chauncey prepped Jeremy to a key placing and earning his pro card at last year's NPC North American Championships in Pittsburgh. A year later Jeremy was in Charleston, SC, to see Chauncey win the 2019 NPC Junior USA's, taking the Classic Physique Overall, and earning his IFBB Pro League pro card. Both guys truly believe in each other, have been there for each other, and will be very successful in all future projects.

So what are these two guys up to, what's the big project? Well, as y'all may know, it's become considerably harder to get nationally qualified for NPC competition. As word continues to gets out and more and more people want to compete for titles in Louisville, Lexington, and Covington, not to mention, throughout the region, posing has become one of the most in-demand disciplines that new and veteran competitors want to sharpen. Now, contrary to the wisdom of social media..., you can never develop posing prowess by simply watching YouTube Videos or IG TV, you also can't get it by going to contests and trying to copy that which you see on stage. The truth of the matter is, if you want to become a great poser, you need to study with a great poser. It's very much akin to martial arts. Would you learn Kung Fu off a video online - or - would you study with a sensai with years of experience under his/her belt?

Now, when it comes to posing, there's two major names in Kentucky - Kevin Johnson and Chauncey Wilson. Both of these guys are the very best, though neither one of them have ever truly received the star treatment. Other clinics have done great work, but all clinics in the future should include the best of the best - talent of the future! In fact, I was honored that Chauncey made the drive to Newport, KY, earlier this year, and was part of our Free NPC Seminar at Crunch Fitness. I'm also very happy that  IFBB Pro Kevin Johnson is featured in the upcoming Kentucky Open Free NPC Seminar in Lexington (also featuring Gary Udit and IFBB Pro Linda Andrew).

Getting back to Chauncey and Jeremy, though, what they're doing is also noteworthy for two other, very important, reasons. Not only are both men pro's and not only have both men competed on national stages, but they're sharing their knowledge for free. They are also offering the group posing option on a weekly basis!!

I, personally, think that everyone in Louisville should take advantage of this amazing opportunity! I also think that if you're anywhere in Kentucky, you owe it to yourself to be a part of at least one class. You've worked too hard for this, between your diet, your training, and all the contest-related costs, to not give your posing a very real try. Even if you have the BEST physique on contest day, if you can't show it, you're not going to win. Also, even folks who can nail the mandatory poses, may be like deer in headlights in a pose down situation. Pose downs are entertaining for the audience, but every so often, a pose down may also BUY TIME!! There's really close calls where judges are having trouble tabulating their final scores and an all out pose down, gives them more time, and sometimes might even push a competitor that tiny, little bit, over. A poser who's really on the ball, might impress a judge enough, to make break what otherwise might be a dead heat. There's a TON of strategy that's employed in great posing, as well, so please don't underestimate the abilities of great posing coaches.

As you can see, I believe posing plays a HUGE role and that's why I wanted to commend Chauncey and Jeremy for really giving back to the fitness community. Please contact them on Facebook and/or IG for more information.

Monday, July 15, 2019

Meet, Ryan Becht of Louisville Supplement Store

Ryan & Casey Becht - Louisville Supplement Store

I'm sure many of you have heard, by now, that Rob Nieters sold Louisville Supplement Store. In a short amount of time, Rob, together with Travis Schnell, made a very strong impact on the Louisville fitness scene. These efforts were enhanced with the strong support of (past/present) sponsored athletes likes IFBB Pro Sam Adiki (aka The African Lion), IFBB Pro Wayne Williams, NPC athletes like Jorge Felix, Tracy Cates, Nick Tong, Jay Jones, Rhea Wills, and others. Things were on the up and up, the 2018 feud was over, and the contest season was off to a a great start. No one could have anticipated the sale, much less the sponsored athletes. The good news is, Louisville Supplement Store's doors are open, the sponsored athletes have a bright future, and LSS's new owner, Ryan Becht, will continue to help grow the fitness community here in Louisville and throughout the region.

So who is Ryan Becht?

Ryan, like many of us, is someone who discovered fitness and found a great journey in it. For some of us, the fitness journey took us into media, competing, and/or business, just to name a few paths. In Ryan's case, fitness helped change his life. Some six years ago, he stopped drinking, put all his faith in God, and started training seriously. It was while training, at LAC Westport, that he met Casey. They fell in love, got married, and have a great family (with four great kids, ranging in ages from 5-13). He also met two great friends in Mark Krauss and Michael Dubree, both of whom also reclaimed their lives, much like Ryan had. Mark and Michael also showed Ryan how to train.

As time progressed in both Ryan and Casey's training, she'd go on to compete at last year's NPC Kentucky Muscle, taking 2nd in Figure, and becoming nationally-qualified. As a result, the couple are headed to Miami, FL this year, for the 2019 NPC Nationals, where Casey will compete for an IFBB Pro League Pro Card.

When the opportunity of buying Louisville Supplement Store presented itself, Ryan saw a great opportunity to further the very strong network he and Casey had built. In fact, to quote him directly, "this store is a dream of both of ours and developing an awesome team is paramount. We just want to grow a great company and supply jobs and excellent service and products."

I know that Ryan and Casey will do a fantastic job!! Help me, in wishing them, many blessings and good fortune!! Be sure to visit Louisville Supplement Store, today!!

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Cory Howell's 2 Scoops Radio

First and foremost, I'd like to say how proud I am of Cory Howell for pressing forward with 2 Scoops Radio. It's very difficult breaking from one's comfort zone, breaking with a routine, and moving forward onto new formats and frontiers. For well over a year, Cory and Ty worked very hard to create something very special on the airwaves. Week after week, they put in a great deal of time, energy, and resources into giving thousands of podcast listeners something to look forward to with each, new episode. After a two month hiatus, Cory moved forward, now with his second episode of the new program in the can.

When we met up, we'd discussed the idea of him flying solo (at least for a while), and how successful it would be. I think the LIVE component also provides plenty of great questions, in addition to those submitted pre-recording. In time, however, I'm sure the traditional podcast format will be offered, as well.

I'd say the hardest part is now behind him. That first episode was probably the toughest, because it broke the hiatus, it ended the silence. With a studio in the works and a good 5-6 months left in the season,
2 Scoops Radio will have plenty to talk about and a who's who of guests to pick from. Anyone who's asked to be a part of this awesome program, would jump at the opportunity. I'm also eager to see
2 Scoops Radio become a major force in Kentucky contest coverage, so I'm hoping our promoters DM/email Cory in the near future.

With regards to sponsors, I truly think companies should look at this program as a great way to get the word out about their goods and services to both the local and national fitness community. From supplement stores, to meal prep companies, to sports massage, suit designers, and baked goods!! Advertising is key and if you don't have money to advertise, then impose a pay cut on yourself, and do right by your business. Businesses no one's ever heard of, are bound to go belly up.

2 Scoops Radio never had sponsors, they never got press passes, and they never got paid for their work. Could you imagine working your tail off for over 50 programs and not getting anything back for it? Could you imagine, on top of that, having to spend your money to host podcasts, buy equipment, and travel to contests (even pay for parking!)? I'd say that would take a toll on anyone.

The truth of the matter is, 2SR brings undeniable value to Kentucky's fitness community, creates interest in NPC contests, and could do even more great work, provided they have the right backers. This is all the more reason, that I think the second half of 2019, will be very fruitful for the show, and why I believe Cory will write a new chapter in its history.

All the Best!!