“The 4th place award and check for $6,000 goes to John Jewett!” I could not have prepared for this moment. Very few can know the feeling of emotion that hits you when you are rewarded for years of hard work and consistency. The sacrifice of jobs, relationships lost, social events missed, physical and mental struggles—the list of what it takes to make it to the biggest stage in bodybuilding goes on. All that sacrifice is what makes the reward so sweet, such a spiritual experience. I can best describe it as a happiness that feels like it lifts you off the floor; a feeling like you can accomplish anything. Although 2019 was a true break-out year for me as a pro, there was a lot of doubt on this journey to the Olympia, as well as a lot of learning that came from the process.
Chicago Pro: A Realization of Possibility
My first contest for the season was the Chicago Pro. I had been prepping myself up until I was 4 weeks and then I handed the reigns over to Andrew Vu to finish out the prep. Prepping myself was fun and I love analyzing the process, but it can also hold you back from learning and seeing another point of view. I didn’t want to let myself be my own downfall here.
Going into this show was a test to see if the 212 division was really for me. I was topped out in the class so I had my doubts. Not only had I never placed higher than 5th, but there is not much I can change being at the top end of the weight class. My confidence going into this show was high as I had a better look than in my past competitions. My back was wider and I could now hit a solid vacuum pose, which were big critiques from the past year. The show was stacked with 20+ guys and I ended up placing 3rd. This was a win for me just because I proved I could improve in placing and stand among a large line up. The judge’s feedback was just to nail my peak more because I came in flat which makes me lose a lot of detail. Since this was fixable, moving on to the next show made sense. I realized at this point that it was very possible for me to win a 212 show and gave me some extra motivation to take on the Tampa Pro.
Tampa Pro: A Fruition of Actions
Going into Tampa, I had a fire in me that I didn’t have before as a 212. I had confidence that I could win the show. Walking on stage with confidence is huge; it takes away anxiety and it gives a spark to your performance. The judges will pick up on that. They will see that passion expressed outward to them and in turn see you in a positive light.
For Tampa, Vu and I refined the peaking formula. We didn’t cut water at all for the show—cutting water leaves me just too flat—and kept it at 3 gallons per day. Maybe it was the humid environment and the extra confidence, but I was naturally drying out even more with water intake left high. I knew right after the judges lined me up in prejudging that I had this show. I was first call out dead center and never moved. In finals, I held the same position in the confirmation round.
I make a goal board every year, and this year my goal was to win a pro show. Winning a pro show was going to be a huge step for me. Winning a show and an Olympia qualification is something only a few will achieve in a bodybuilding career. I always train to win, but until that win happens you have some realistic doubt that it may not. Tampa was the biggest 212 show of the year with over 25 competitors. This was the last qualifier for the Olympia, so this win was going to be a big one. Well, I won. This punched my ticket to the Olympia. At this moment I realized that I was going to be among the best 212s in the world come September. All the actions I took to get to this point made my goal come to fruition.
Olympia: A Dream Come True
I had already won just by going to the Olympia. This was a dream come true for any bodybuilder. If you look at my stage shots, I have a big stupid grin on my face the whole time on stage. For one I love being on stage, but two I made it to the Olympia. Anything else was just frosting on the cake. I ate up every single moment of this first Olympia—there was no stress at all, just excitement.Going into check ins and walking into the room with past Olympians was such an honor. I had grown up watching 212 bodybuilders such as Eduardo Correa, Hidetada Yamagishi, and David Henry and now I was sitting in a room with them about to compete against these legends. Receiving my Olympia Jacket at check ins was a memorable moment for me as well. It just comes in a bag without ceremony, but it signifies being one of the best. This jacket is something you can be proud to wear because it represents your level of effort.
The Meet the Athletes Event was another humbling experience that week. In your first Olympia, you may wonder if anyone is going to come to your booth at all. But I was blown away to see a little line of people who wanted to meet me and say hi, including fans wearing my J3 shirts who had flown out just for me. You really don’t realize how many people you can influence in this sport and it motivates me to continue to put out the information that these fans love.
The realest moment was standing behind the O on the main stage waiting to come out for the first time at finals. I have never seen the Olympia stage—this was my first time at an Olympia ever. Now, I was standing on the stage about to see it for the first time…and as a competitor no less. Behind the O you can’t quite see the whole stage, so I had no idea what to expect. My name was called, and I walked out and had an overwhelming realization of how grand the O truly is. I just remember seeing a large dark auditorium with an endless stage lit up with bright lights. At least I could make out the red tape square in the middle of the stage. The walk to that square felt like slow motion. I remember telling myself to take my time, take in every moment, every step was my time. I felt no nerves, just joy. Starting my routine and turning to the rear, I saw myself on the gigantic TV screens. I couldn’t help but watch as I posed. It was like seeing another person perform, especially since it’s hard to believe you look like that. I knew, though, that Vu and I nailed the look for finals. This led to my greatest accomplishment of the year and what I wanted to achieve: top 5 at my first Olympia.
My most heartfelt and emotional moment was walking out of the Orleans Arena and seeing my wife for the first time. She is with me nearly 24 hours every day. She knows every feeling of my prep and makes sacrifices right along with me. When we locked eyes, we both felt all those emotions swell up and shared in that moment of happiness together. Nothing was more meaningful than that moment. None of this would mean as much as it does without her by my side.
A Change of Mindset
Now, the sky’s the limit. My goal is to win the 212 Olympia. This is not a dream, but a reality I can make true. I have the entire year focused for the 2020 Olympia. I will change my physique into what will be an Olympian champion—my vision is set.
There's nothing more taxing than competition prep. Sure, other sports have some extremely grueling seasons, but those athletes also get some substantial downtime in the off-season. Bodybuilding is different. This is a 24/7 gig. We monitor everything we eat and train multiple times a day while juggling a job because most of us don't make enough money doing it. What gets us through? The mind. John Jewett explains where your mind should be before, during, and after a competition in his latest article.
Intensity is one of the key components to accomplishing anything of magnitude, but especially to building a successful physique. You have to train in a way that will produce results, even when energy and calories are in serious deficit. John Jewett tells us how to approach and sustain intensity when you're getting ready for a show.
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