Photo courtesy of Gabe Johnson

Gabe Johnson, a Brandon native and graduate of Bloomingdale High School, placed in two different bodybuilding divisions in the Europa Games this past April in Orlando. The show was his first National Physique Committee competition. It was a national show which had over 200 competitors, 26 of which were in the two divisions Johnson competed in, Open and Novice. He placed third in both divisions.

Johnson, 24, was unhappy with his physique and health and decided to do something about it. He did research and learned everything that he could about bodybuilding. He then made diet plans and worked out regularly.

Johnson puts a lot of work into prepping for each show that he does. He eats seven meals a day, one meal every two hours and fifteen minutes. He wakes up at four in the morning each day and does cardio and lifting at the local gym, where he works out six days a week. “It’s really taxing to be honest,” said Johnson. “It’s one of those sports where you have to be crazy to enjoy it.”

Johnson said that everything changed for him when he met his coach, Jarrod Hess, who owns the Southern Muscle store on Kennedy in South Tampa. Johnson said that he could not have had the success that he has had without the help of Hess, who trained him.

Johnson is a sponsor for Broactive Menswear and he is also completing his studies with the National Academy of Sports Medicine to be a certified fitness trainer. The thing that he says he enjoys most about the sport is the mental strength that it gives him. “It’s a ‘you vs. you’ mentality,” he said. “It’s one of those sports where it will make you stronger as a person if you let it.”

September 29 in Daytona is the next competition that Johnson will partake in. He said that he has put on 20 pounds of muscle since the show last month and he hopes to win first place this time. His ultimate goal is to be Mr. Olympia and he wants to build fitness in the Brandon area and make bodybuilding a popular sport.