July 5, 2014

Showing off their guns

Locals are reaping the rewards for hard work

Mike Smith says bodybuilding was something he always wanted to try. But like a lot of guys with projects they would like to try — working on that automobile project, building a new deck, finally pressure washing the house — something always seemed to get in the way.

Whether it was work, family or any other little thing, something always kept him from pursuing his goal.

But that changed in 2008 when his father, Jerry Smith, passed away.

“When my father died, I said to myself that if you are going to do something, you need to do it now,” Smith said. “It was something that I always wanted to do, but you find excuses not to do it. When my father passed away, that was the catalyst that spurred the change.”

The change has paid off for Smith, who is starting to earn regional recognition as one of the region’s top competitors at the age of 45.

Earning even more recognition is former Dalton Catamount football player and current Peak Fitness trainer Roderick Ellison. Ellison finished fifth in the middleweight division at the National Physique Committee’s 2014 Junior USA Championships in May in Charleston, S.C. Both are looking to continue their training and keep working in the sport to move up the ladder.

Smith was the overall winner of the eighth annual Roman Classic Body Building Championships held at the Rome City Auditorium in June. He was the winner of the Masters (35 and older) division and brought home a sword as the overall competition winner.

It has been a long road through the sport for Smith, who said he learned quickly he was going to have to put in a lot more work to rise higher.

“The first real show I got into, I was dead last,” Smith said. “I realized right away you have to watch what you are doing all year round to get the look the judges want. When I talk to people, I let them know that I got beat down hard enough to know that I needed to get better. I tell them that I got knocked into the dirt before I could grow. It is not a part-time thing. It takes dedication.”

Smith said he has been in 14 shows around north Georgia with eight age division first-place finishes and three overall titles. But he has his sights set on more competition against a higher caliber of bodybuilders a little further north. .

“My goal is to win overall in Chattanooga,” Smith said. “Chattanooga is a lot higher caliber of competition. It is a lot bigger with a lot more competitors in the class. A first in Chattanooga is a much bigger deal.

“I got into it this real late, and I know that I am not going to be Mr. Olympia or anything like that, but I am having fun,” he said.

Part of the fun is training with someone like Ellison, who has been seriously training for bodybuilding competitions for just the past three years. He has always been in peak shape as a trainer and a workout junkie, but it wasn’t until other people told him he should consider bodybuilding that he took it seriously.

“I really had no intention of competing,” Ellison said. “I have always thought I shouldn't place my look ahead of my health benefits. People had to convince me to do it. I am just different I guess when it comes to this. I am not a huge guy, and I try to stay the same all the time. I am not going to be one of these guys that are really huge. I am not into taking any performance drugs or anything like that. My work in the gym is not geared to doing these shows. These shows are secondary.”

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