Shortly after graduating high school I needed to find a sport or hobby I could continue after football was over. Having some 7 years experience weight training at the time, I naturally took to bodybuilding. I had met a self proclaimed “bodybuilder” after my senior year and he took me under his wing, and for the next 2 years we trained daily together. We dreamed about competing and did everything we thought we could to make progress but my training partner was only a year older than myself and didn’t really have any practical experience actually competing in the sport. Slowly, very slowly, I started to “outgrow” my partner. I went my own way after two years and continued that path for nearly 7 more years. I learned by trial and error, reading magazines, books and online articles. I went to seminars, expos, and competitions. Not once did I purchase personal training of any kind. Out of the thousands of dollars I spent on courses, books, supplements and equipment, it practically never dawned on me to hire a personal trainer probably because my first mentor or training partner never had either. And in the 1990’s and early 2000’s, the word “coach” in the fitness industry was still relatively new so really to find a coach, you needed to find a personal trainer. So now some 15 years of lifting in, a gentleman approaches me at the local gym and asks if I had ever thought about competing. Truth is I had THOUGHT about it for years! He went on to say he thought by what he’d seen of me in the gym that I had some serious potential. At the time, I was probably 255 lbs and around 20% body fat, and had never seen an ab muscle. I had been chunky my entire life at this point. My first training partner was 135 lbs when he started bodybuilding. I was 230 lbs when i started! Our approaches should’ve been different from the start. But I didn’t know what I didn’t know. Anyways, this particular gentleman convinced me that I had what it takes to compete. At the time I had just met my future wife. The timing felt right. Even though I had spent most of my 20’s trying to figure out, not just bodybuilding on my own, but life as well, I decided now was the time to accomplish this 15 year goal in the making. I was going to get on stage and compete. I didn’t even know where to find posing trunks. I reached out to the only friend I had that had competed and asked him for help. He referred me to a personal trainer, or coach if you will, and 11 weeks later, not only did I see abdominal muscles for the first time, but I won my first show. And not just my class, but beat everyone in the novice division. This would set off a chain reaction that ultimately led me to where I am today. I don’t recall how much the initial investment for the personal training was, but it pales in comparison to the countless hours, days, weeks, months, years, and thousands of dollars spent learning the hard way. Hind sight is always 20/20 but I can only imagine where Id be today if I had hired a personal trainer at 19 instead of 29. Now, I apply the same principal to any field I want to advance in life in. The shortcut to success is a mentor, a consultant, a personal trainer.