The Final Moments Backstage Then… Showtime
The frenzied pumping and posing then moved to the almost serene silence as our class was lined up in the backstage alcove. We waited anxiously in the darkness for the stagehand’s signal that would drive us out under the bright lights to the howls and screams of an unruly crowd desperate to cheer, jeer, or revere the latest crop of bodybuilding hopefuls.
My mind thought back to what it must been like thousands of years before as the Christians were flushed out into the Roman Colliseum to be gored and eaten by lions as blood thirsty crowd howled with glee. It appears after nearly 2000 years not a whole lot has changed.
The Contest and time onstage is an almost surreal. The depletion of dieting, dehydration, and diuretics, all combine to confuse the athletes onstage and the crowd noise muffles the commands of the Chief Judge as he calls out the various mandatory poses. The burning sensation in my muscle reaches almost unbearable levels as my muscles cramp, flex, and ripple under the blinding glare of the lights.
Time seemingly stands still as I hold each pose in a statue like stillness trying my best to keep from shaking form the intense muscular contractions. My chest heaves between poses as my lungs gasp for air and I taste my own blood in my parched mouth. I paint a well-practiced smile on my face, as I move from one skin splitting pose to another, making it look as if I am taking an enjoyable stroll on a cool spring morning for my morning paper.
Half of the crowd howls with delight while the other half tries to dampen their cheers with a chorus of boos as the judges make the selections. The stone-faced judges, all veteran competitors themselves, scan the line of bodybuilders with only the slightest move of their pencils as they decide the fate of few before them.
Before you know it the MC’s voice booms over the speakers and we are ushered off the stage gasping for air, staggering to and fro to find our gym bags where we hastily grab the tiniest swallow of water to tease our taste buds with a few measured drops of coolness.
The months of dieting, depletion and drug use are all compressed and crammed into a few fleeting minutes onstage but eventually after the last competitors walk off the stage the lights go dim, the music dies and the curtain closes.
The contest for the most part is over and the ensuing night show will more or less be a parade to hand out trophies, t-shirts and a few buckets of protein to the newly crowned champions. The victors pose reveling in the attention while the photographers scramble to get a few shots of each of the class winners. Perhaps one of the winners will be fortunate enough to have a deadline pressed magazine editor fill an empty 2x2 section in the back pages of a scripted account of the days happenings.
The defeated gather sheepishly with their friends and families nibbling on cookies, candy, and the most treasured “taboo treats” which have been avoided like the plague for the months leading up to the show. The faithful friends are quick to point out how each athlete was robbed, or how the call-outs were unfair. Almost everyone agrees that the show must have been rigged as they all murmur in agreement while suspiciously eyeing the promoters, judges and staff.
Bodybuilding’s Ultimate Irony
The irony for the most part is lost on the athletes who have spent countless years of training, straining, and untold uncertainty to get to this moment only to have it skip by the time it takes most people to eat a bag of Doritos.
The testosterone fueled bodies and minds filled with an unwavering drive to become as big as possible drive with an almost insane amount of effort, sacrifice, and discipline to build oneself into the latest version of Hercules are no match for Father Time.
The moment of Glory fades into history like all moments must and the hopes and dreams of most of the competitors are dashed upon the rocks of reality. These few are the lucky ones as often times it’s the winners who move on supported by the illusionary glory a temporary victory might bring.
Eventually, even the greatest bodybuilders will be reduced to a mere mortal before the grim reaper comes to call home their soul. Unfortunately it comes sooner and more swiftly for today’s bodybuilding competitors.
The Bodybuilding Side Show Unveiled
Of course outside the auditorium during the breaks and between the morning and the night show is the all too familiar “contest scene" at all the booths. All in all I get to see what the “real bodybuilding world is all about and it’s much like a circus side show filled with a hodge-podge of oddities that would flabbergast Mark Twain.
Bloated bellies, pimped out pretenders, in skin tight spandex flecked with a few ‘Glazed Eyed Pros” signing autographs at the various supplement booths. All the while crowds of onlookers with “Cartoon like proportions” strut and flex with lats flared, arms tensed, and chests pushed out to like bullfrogs ready to mate. It truly is a sight to behold as everyone struggles to gain the attention of everyone else.
After the contest, I met up with the overall winner outside the contest who was in a state of depression. As I congratulated him he said to me, “what now" how can I compete against the pros?
I had trained with this fellow during the last few weeks before the show and he confided in me the prodigious amount of drugs he had used for the last 3 years to “be in the winner circle". Now that he had actually won he realized he didn’t have the heart, the genetics, or the funds to make the jump into the professional bodybuilding ranks.
Seeing him on the sidewalk that night was a powerful experience and his words echoed in my head for many months after the contest.
The Razor’s Edge
Today’s contest requirements can be a dangerous game that taken to extreme can spell disaster. Most of the public is unaware how many depleted bodybuilders are backstage on oxygen tanks or in worse cases rushed to emergency rooms because of drug overdoses and diuretic use. I call these practices the Razor’s Edge because at any moment the whole thing can result in disaster. Winning and losing seem to be determined by how much risk a competitor is willing to accept.
I was seemingly lucky, as I didn’t require medical attention although after the show I unwisely consumed too much Coca-cola water, juice, etc in my ultra dehydrated state. I spent about 2 hours lying on a bench on the boat cruise, trying to calm down my parents, as ‘knife-like" pains shot though my kidneys.
The best part of the show for me was the fact that I managed to get some business out of the show. During the intermission I made a deal to sell supplements for one of the suppliers who needed a west coast representative. Fortunately they were convinced by my energy and enthusiasm and I landed my first real business contract.
I didn’t win the show but in my mind I had a won a bigger prize as I was going West to make my “fame and fortune". About 6 Weeks later I was at Scott's residence discussing my next move. My blood work was A Ok and I would be able to start “really growing now".
I Recognize The Futility of Chemical Warfare
But something happened, as I contemplated using a collage of drugs over the next few years so that I might become “Canada's next pro. . . and worst Pro" I realized that I was fighting an uphill battle. Dorian Yates was ruling the sport at that point and the “Chemical Warfare Era" had begun.
I had a moment of clarity as I finally realized that nothing was going to make me Mr. Olympia and I needed to follow a different path than my boyhood Idol Arnold. I dropped out of the “Hardcore Bodybuilding Scene” as it’s called and I moved to the west coast.
The supplement contract led me to start several successful businesses and thought I had overcome the psychological demon of insecurity that drove me daily in my pursuit of the bodybuilding holy grail. Again, the “fly in my psychological ointment" led me to throw myself into business at a torrid rate.
I Descend Into A Deeper Darkness
I was a success but my need for approval set me up for an even deeper darkness. As the money began to roll in from my business I got introduced to the underground party scene. . . the defective psychological weakness that was hidden by my armor of muscles led me into a life of sex, drugs and rock and roll as they say which almost cost me my life. Of course that’s another story, which I will share in another article.
The Miracle And Transformation
In the pit of personal Hell, when I had nowhere else to turn, I had a profound moment whereby a series of inexplicable events transpired that too this days would baffle and amaze the most dour skeptic. . . An event so profound and transformation gave birth to a new awareness as to what I had been searching for all along.
I realize that I am more fortunate than most to have this “spiritual renaissance". Over time and space, my spiritual teacher appeared to me. How or why this happened I cannot say but it happened and it's more real than most of the experiences of my life.
The field of spirit finally obliterated my psychological, and sociological pathologies and I threw myself into meditation and a spiritual routine based around meditation, contemplation, and spiritual study of Eastern Philosophy.
My outlook on life, my personality, and just about everything improved. Even though I went through some heart wrenching challenges, my life had new meaning. Events were merely opportunities for growth. I regularly enjoyed blissful states for no apparent external reason even during trying personal circumstances.
In a couple of years I decided to compete again only as a vegetarian, and in drug tested shows. I contacted Scott Abel again and after 5 years of no contact we went on to win a National Title in just two years and a birth in the Mr. Universe contest.
What's more even more exciting was the rigors of competing was a joy, I was relaxed enjoyed the process and felt at ease during the diet. IN 2003 for the Universe I went about 11 months with on the diet with only 3 pig-out days. Although I was spent physically, I had an incredible time at the Universe even though I did not place.
What’s even more remarkable is how the experience of competing that year led me to several breakthrough discoveries that I have went on to share with the bodybuilding community via my websites.
The Power Of Spirit
Competing was not the, “be and end all” it is for many competitors. In fact it was just something I simply enjoyed doing and I believe that I was able to enjoy this process so much because of my new found psychological perspective garnered by my spiritual base and the sociological influence of my “spiritual meditation group". Again Dr. David Hawkins notes in AA, and in Power vs. Force this effect.
After the Universe I competed again, but my heart wasn't in it. My inner path was more gratifying and I lost the “burning desire drive" that every athlete must possess to be there best. When I lost the next years national championship I felt relief instead of disappointment and I have not looked back ever since.
The Torch Is Passed To The Next Generation
I went on to pen a book aimed at Natural Bodybuilders as I felt there were many naive young men and women that might be drawn into the same self-destructive path I had been on, which by grace I escaped. Since thing the book has given the way to a series of courses, audios, videos, and nutritional supplements to improve health and performance.
My life could not be more fulfilling and I firmly believe it's all because of the grace given to me by my spiritual journey. Even today in the throws of business pressures, personal relationships, social requirements, I feel a sense of center and balance that provides a constant state of well-being.
It’s my firm desire to help positively influence others about the benefits of building a bodybuilding without using harmful drugs. The feedback and results have been overwhelming and I feel truly grateful to positively affect so many lives. More importantly I hope to help others avoid the slippery slope I was on that leads to Bodybuilding Oblivion.
Too date it seems my wishes have come true.
A Final Note Of Interest
One more note: When I first began my spiritual journey I was reading a line on the power of spirit as written by my spiritual teacher Paramahansa Yogananda. He said that if one had a strong desire based in good intentions and even if the item desired did not exist it would be created by the universe for you. This sounded almost insane to me at the time I was barely on the road to recovery and competitive bodybuilding was just about the last thing on my mind.
Yet as soon as I read the words it flashed in mind the thought of realizing my dream of competing in the Mr. Universe without using performance-enhancing drugs, a desire I originally had when I was 15 years old and did not know drugs existed or that bodybuilders used them. Keep in mind that at the time my mind, and body were pretty much finished.
My Journey Final Reaches The Myth-Ster Universe
Less than 2 years later I won the Newly created “light middleweight division" in the Canadian National Championships World Qualifiers in Hamilton, Ontario. This qualified me to compete in the 2003 Mr. Universe in MUMBAI, INDIA, the home country of my spiritual teacher.
What is even more remarkable is the Mr. Universe was held exactly 3 years to the day that I was hospitalized for a drug overdose. Couple this with the fact that I stood onstage at the Mr. Universe in a division that had not existed in the previous 54 years.
The facts are simple: Had the new division not been created I surely would have lost the chance to go as the fellow that won the class above me would have beat me soundly as he had done so a year previous to the World Qualifiers.
Now some may say it's a coincidence by I am certain that it is not. Considering the planets travel in a predictable sequence, the tide moves, the seasons come and go, and the sun and moon rise in perfect harmony it would seem that there is a rhythm and cycle to the universe that if only one can tap into and become aware all of life seems to flow. . .
Spirituality, psychology, sociology, and the pursuit of all mankind is really just an exercise in remembering that we are all part of this universal energy which guides, directs, and gives us all that we need, or could desire if we but become aware of it's subtle yet all encompassing nature.
I thank God that I have been gifted with the opportunity to realize that in my lifetime and in my pursuits. I wish the same for all of you!
Wade McNutt is a Natural National Bodybuilding Champion and an IFBB Mr. Universe World Champion. He combined the secrets of Eastern Yoga Masters with, scientific, muscle building to produce a revolutionary new health system, called Freaky Big Naturally, find out more at http://www.freakybignatural.com