I've always admired great physiques from a young age. When I was growing up a lot of superhero movies and cartoons showed muscular physiques like Thundercats and He man. The first time I lifted weights was in secondary school. We had a small gym with a bench and loose weights and I really enjoyed it.

The first time I stepped foot in a real bodybuilding gym I was 18. A friend at work had joined a local gym (Olympia in Redcar). He suggested I join and train with him after work so I decided to give it a go. Straight away I was hooked. Within weeks I was increasing my strength and beating previous personal bests I'd achieved week after week.

I was getting complements now outside the gym on how well I was looking which gave me a boost in my confidence. For the next ten years this was what the gym was all about for me looking and feeling good about myself. My diet was pretty much what Id always eaten plus 2-3 protein drink’s a day and creatine. As my body improved so did the compliments. I had some of the more serious lads in the gym asking me if Id thought about competing. Id always say it wasn’t for me I was happy doing what I was doing but as my interest in the sport grew I decided that I would at some point give it a go. Next year maybe Id say when asked and as time went on I started to doubt myself that I would I needed someone to give me a push.

Three years ago a friend was going to a more hardcore bodybuilding gym (The Iron Asylum in Redcar) and asked me to join and be his training partner. This gym was more for me than the commercial gyms. No checking to see what your lifting or lads checking their hair out in the gyms mirrors the lads in this gym were here to train. I was again asked if I'd thought of competing by the owners of the gym Mick Millington and Ami King (Maxxmuscle troop) and I used the maybe next year excuse. Excuses don’t wash with Mick and Ami so the next year when they asked me again I agreed I'd give it a go.

What had held me back in the past was not knowing where to start. Ami had competed for years and Mick had been a gym owner for 20 plus years so they had all the advice I needed. With them putting me straight on my training and diet my physique improved massively. I competed in my first show a UKBFF Qualifier and came second. Id caught the bug! Now I was over my main fear of getting on stage I couldn’t wait to do it all again.

Bodybuilding has given me so much over the years in the gym and outside it. Its made me a much more confident person. Its given me something to fall back on and keep my mind occupied when things arnt going my way like relationship breakups and problems at work. I was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis 5 years ago and had suffered quite bad with it on and off. Thanks to Ami putting me right on my diet I no longer suffer or have symptoms. Training has kept me healthy and fit over the years and given me somewhere to go and socialise with people like myself sharing training tips and advice. On top of all this its something I love doing.

Its never to late to join a gym - you can make excuses, or, you can make progress. I turn 40 in 2 months and for me this is just the beginning...