Bodybuilder finds inspiration in dad’s illness

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (AP) — “So you are the bodybuilder.”

The words from a nurse were not what Chuck Williams was expecting to hear as he walked the halls of the IU Medical Center in Indianapolis.

It was December 2011, and Williams was visiting his father, who was awaiting a double lung transplant. His mind was on other things – the health of his father, the approaching holiday. He was not thinking about bodybuilding.

The sport, in fact, hadn’t been a part of his life for some time, even though his physique still served as a reminder of who he had been.

But those words, something clicked when he heard them. And the Fort Wayne resident knew he would not only return to the sport, but take his commitment to the next level.

Standing just shy of 5-foot-5, Williams has been told he is too short, too small, to do the things he wants.

When he tried out for football at age 10, he tells The Journal Gazette (http://bit.ly/1cFY3C5 ), he didn’t make the team because of his size.

“So my dad bought me a weight set – like one of those universal home gym things. … I started doing that and just never left it,” the 31-year-old says, adding that he used to run around the house as a child flexing and showing off his “big muscles.”

Charles Williams says he remembers buying the set, talking to his son about weightlifting. He’s quick to say that the photo albums in his Decatur home have shots of Chuck Williams working out as a teen.

He never imagined, though, that the set would be something that would spark such a passion.

“I showed up pale.”

Williams laughs when he begins the story about his first bodybuilding competition – Mr. Indiana in 2007. He had recently moved to Decatur, and the guys at his gym persuaded him to sign up for the event. He had four weeks to diet and train for the event.

“I put on the rub-on (tan) stuff the night before, and I didn’t like the way it looked so I washed it off that morning before the show,” he says. “I show up for weigh-ins and, go, ‘Aw, crap.'”

He placed second, he says. The next year, he came in first. Williams says he competed regularly – and placed – in local and national shows until 2010.

“I got tired of dieting and training all the time. You know, and the pressure,” he says. “I didn’t compete at all in 2011. I didn’t do anything, and I lost a bunch of weight.”

And then, “in 2011, my dad ended up getting real sick,” he says. “We almost lost him a few times.”

Charles Williams, who had been diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis about seven years ago, had been transported to the IU Medical Center after the condition took a turn for the worse in 2011.

He was on oxygen and had difficulty getting around and was in need of a double lung transplant.

When he went to the hospital to visit, Chuck Williams says, the nurses told him, “Oh your dad, he’s up here. All he does is brag about how good you are at bodybuilding.”

Williams says it wasn’t until then that he knew his dad was proud of him, and he promised that if his dad made it through that, he would start training again.

On Christmas Eve, after days of ups and downs, vitals crashing, the family got word that there was a set of lungs and they were viable. At 11 p.m., the first lung was out. On Christmas Day, the transplant was complete.

“He was near death, probably hours away, if he hadn’t stabilized,” Williams says.

The NPC National Bodybuilding Championships is two weeks away, and Williams is still hitting legs hard in training.

Hamstrings and quadriceps are each trained every third day and he exercises glutes on both leg days. Each exercise is done for 15 to 25 repetitions in those sessions. He usually trains alone, fitting in the workouts around his schedule as a pipe fitter.

“My (hamstrings) and glutes are my weak part so I want to make sure I work them hard enough to get them brought up,” he says, adding that he hopes they’ll be more developed come time for the Fort Lauderdale, Fla., competition.

Williams is hoping to earn his pro card at the event, as it will allow him to earn prize money at shows and gain the attention of sponsors. He missed the rank by a point over the summer at the NPC USA Championships that took place in July in Las Vegas.

The training is tough, he says, taking up to two hours (or more) a day and intense focus on his diet.

“(My dad and his illness is) one of the things that helps keep me focused,” he says, adding that he thinks about it a lot when he trains.

Charles Williams, who has had no complications since his transplant, tries to make it to a lot of his son’s shows but won’t be able to make it to Fort Lauderdale. He’ll follow the multi-day competition through photos and phone calls from Chuck.

“I’m proud of him,” Charles Williams says. “He puts a lot of hard work in it, a lot of dedication.”

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Information from: The Journal Gazette, http://www.journalgazette.net

This is an AP Member Exchange shared by The Journal Gazette.

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