Thread: Good article on Phil Heath
02-27-2007, 10:47 AM #1Banned
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- Dec 2005
Good article on Phil HeathBodybuilder has built career on discipline, sacrifice, good genes
By Marc Ramirez
The Seattle Times
SEATTLE - In the days before his body developed an identity of its own, Phillip Heath had no idea what lurked inside him.
Even as a member of a state-champion high school basketball team in 1998, he'd been short and stocky, a hoopster trapped in a running back's body. When his basketball days at the University of Denver were over, he started looking for something else to do.
Now, Heath's mother, Rosella Braxton, pulls out old photos of her son - as a baby, grade-schooler, high-schooler - and wonders what happened. Phillip is still there, yes. But so is something else. Something she doesn't recognize at all.
The creature that Phillip Heath has been building is approaching its final stages. At his peak, he's a freakishly formed, real-life Hulk with a body like freshly skinned meat, overripe bulbs of powerfully defined muscles and veins stuffed into a thin, caramel-toned outer layer.
When Heath takes the stage this weekend at the Arnold Classic - the world's most prestigious bodybuilding competition next to Mr. Olympia - his body fat will barely reach 2 percent.
But in a sport where most don't go pro until their 30s - when muscles have adequately matured - Heath is an anomaly, possibly the brightest star on bodybuilding's horizon. Just 27, he's bolted from the gate with rare speed and success, winning his first pro contest ever last year and tacking on another win in New York, the only undefeated pro bodybuilder in the world.
Amateurs usually take years to go pro; pros take years to win contests. Heath barely took up the sport four years ago. His nickname: The Gift.
"What makes Phil so unusual," says Dan Solomon, founder and host of a syndicated radio talk show on bodybuilding, "is that he is genetically blessed with such an incredible physique that he has managed to do in one year what most people take 10 to 15 years to accomplish."
Bodybuilding is still a cult sport. While you may have heard of a little guy named Arnold Schwarzenegger, it's doubtful you know more recent phenoms such as Lee Haney, Flex Wheeler or Jay Cutler. Already, some believe Heath, a green-eyed Seattle native, will ultimately join their company.
Heath knows his showing in Columbus, Ohio, could demonstrate whether his growing legend is deserved or just beginner's luck. The winner of the Arnold Classic earns not only a six-figure check and a Hummer, but a ranking among the world's elite bodybuilders and plenty of potential sponsors.
In 2005, Heath unseated Mark Dugdale as Mr. USA. Slick-haired and surprisingly mellow, Dugdale has pecs that pop from his shirt like bags of frozen peas. But Heath, he says, "has the biggest arms I've ever seen. I'm not kidding. He has a small waist, small joints. He's like a cartoon character."
Heath still can't believe how much he's changed. In a short time, the onetime Nordstrom piano player has discovered the art of the sport, seeing his body as a dynamic organism that can be sculpted with the help of training, diet and health supplements.
His parents were shocked the first time they saw him compete, at the 2004 Mr. Colorado contest. There, they witnessed a bodybuilder's final dehydration regimen, a purposeful shedding of 10 pounds of water promoting the tight, lacquered look commonly associated with the teeth-baring pros. His face: Sucked inward. It was unreal.
Says Braxton, his mother: "I was just hoping everything was OK with him."
When her son visits, she says, he'll sometimes show up with cellophane-wrapped half-yams and look for her George Foreman grill. "We had a grill and moved it off the stove, and he keeps moving it back," she says. "He keeps his little scale with him, because right up to the point of competition, you're wei***ng everything."
The transformation began barely four years ago, as he began his fifth year at the University of Denver, where he'd played varsity hoops. With his eligibility done, he missed the structure of his practice schedule, so he got a job as a bouncer just to have something to do.
"I was hanging around all these bodybuilders," he says. "So I started training with them."
He just wanted to see what the fuss was all about. Then, that December, he attended a local competition, where bodybuilder Claude Groulx, ranked among the world's best at the time, was signing autographs.
When a friend finally convinced him to stand near Groulx and flex for a photo, a passer-by said: Look - his arms are as big as Claude's.
Groulx: Do you compete?
Heath's friend: No, he's a basketball player.
Groulx: You have a lot of potential.
The whole exchange was weird, Heath recalls, but it empowered him to pursue his new hobby. He took an anatomy class to learn how his body was changing. He bought a digital camera to track his progress. He saved his scholarship money, and "instead of buying pizza and beer, I bought weight-loss pills and protein shakes and books about how to gain muscle and lose fat."
He could feel his body awakening, a machine whirring to life. He knew something serious was happening. He stopped eating burgers, fries, doughnuts.
And his body said: Yeah, we can work with this.
Rainier Beach basketball coach Mike Bethea still tells his players about the kid he taught to win, about an undersized talent who defied the odds with hard work and with whom he now shares a mutual respect.
"A lot of kids don't understand their true ability," Bethea says. "They can be afraid of their own success. They're afraid to do something positive, to see how far it can take them."
From the beginning, it took discipline - to negotiate high school during a violent time in Rainier Beach history. To earn a basketball scholarship at the University of Denver.
Then, as Heath took up bodybuilding, to weather partying college roommates as he prepared for early morning weekend contests. Heath recalls sleeping in his car to escape the noise, and slurping egg whites and oatmeal while roomies watched football games over beer and Domino's pizza.
Two years would bring many successes. 2004: Mr. Colorado. 2005: Overall Junior Nationals champ, then the Mr. USA title, which earned him pro status at age 25.
In April 2006, he made his pro debut. At the Colorado Pro Championships, he came out of nowhere to best seasoned favorite Darrem Charles for the overall title. He celebrated that evening with a double cheeseburger, cheesecake and a Coke, but by the next morning, it was back to tilapia and brown rice. The next weekend, he upset Charles again at the New York Pro Championship, his improbable rise setting the stage for the Arnold Classic this weekend.
Now sponsored by Weider Publications (which publishes Flex magazine), Heath, who still lives in Denver, is one of a handful of body builders who can make a living at the sport.
While in Seattle recently, he took time, as he usually does, to share his experience with the Rainier Beach hoops squad; he also trained at Gold's Gym in Kirkland with pal Dugdale, the fellow former Mr. USA.
They started with the incline bench press, starting at 90 pounds and working upward - 180 pounds, 270 pounds - with tortured grunts and groans defying their easygoing natures. As Heath watched Dugdale, leaning on a nearby machine with his muscles cloaked under white Air Jordan warm-ups, his biceps exploded under the polyester, literally as big as his head.
But underneath all that is a sense of discipline, sacrifice and stability he credits to his mother and stepfather, and a competitive killer instinct he credits to Bethea, his high-school mentor.
"Coach got it into me," he says. " `I've prepared for this: Now I'm going to show it to the world.' "
Ahhh I can't wait for the ASC!!!!
02-27-2007, 02:48 PM #2
Very rare that a newspaper would do a story about bodybuilding in a postive light like that,
Kudos to whatever paper wrote that!
However I think Victor will be winning this year unless he screws up, with Dex or Freeman 2nd. Heath will be top 6 for sure though.
02-27-2007, 04:46 PM #3Associate Member
Originally Posted by MFT81
- Join Date
- Dec 2006
02-27-2007, 06:28 PM #4
man hes only been at it four years! thats amazing
02-27-2007, 10:54 PM #5
great find svt!
03-11-2007, 11:40 PM #6
That article was actually in my local paper with a picture of heath. I would have never seen it but my dad brought it to me and was like look at the size of this guy.
03-12-2007, 06:24 PM #7
04-19-2007, 12:13 AM #8
good post SVT
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