A Bridlington gym owner is one step closer to becoming a professional bodybuilder after becoming Mr Great Britain, despite only nine weeks’ training for the competition.
Owner of Universal Physique Gym, Andrew Pickering, initially decided against entering the National Amateur Body-Builders’ Association’s Britain Finals (NABBA) due to work commitments at the gym despite automatically qualifying for the final after placing second in last year’s competition.
Nine weeks prior to the event Andy had a meeting with his Team Foodtech coach Ken Roscoe and, after a training session, decided he was in good condition and should compete.
“I was not eating correctly and I didn’t feel in shape at all,” said Andy. “But Ken assured me he could get me into shape in nine weeks and it’s a good job I listened to him. Participants usually require a 16-18 week preparation for an event like this so to win is fantastic.
“I was filling up when I found out I won. It was a lot of hard work but it was certainly worth it. I am proud to represent the region and the country.”
The 30-year-old said he was ‘overwhelmed’ from the comments he received following the win, including from professional bodybuilders.
Andy said: “The judges said it was the biggest and best line-up for more than 10 years so it means a lot to me to be able to win this year. I came off the stage and looked at my phone about three hours later to see 607 notifications on Facebook.
“The feedback has been unbelievable.”
Andy fought off competition from 16 others to claim the top prize in his class with judges particularly impressed with how he had developed in the past 12 months with his physique, symmetry and balance.
Despite his love for bodybuilding, Andy says it’s extreme dedication, comparing the discipline required to that of the army.
He said: “Bodybuilding is nothing like any sport out there. You have to stick with your strict training regime and eat six meals a day. I went to my cousin’s wedding and had to watch everyone tucking into a meal and drinking beer while I was on my prepared meals and water.
“I like to help everyone out. I love bodybuilding, everything about it. I like eating healthy so the build-up doesn’t bother me. It is to harder to adjust back to normal life after a competition to be honest.”
The national finals take place on June 18 but Andy will not be attending due to the travel time and work commitments. He is instead focusing his attention on the upcoming Physical Culture Association’s British Finals on June 19 before competing at the NABBA Universe 2016 in October, where the winner becomes professional.
Andy travelled to Malta last year for the NABBA World Championships and earned a third place finish. The gym owner, from Cranswick, is grateful for all the assistance and encouragement he has received from friends and family.
He said: “The support I have received over the years has been overwhelming, especially from my grandma and grandad. They are both nearly 90 and travel to every competition I’m in. My parents and also my wife Sara have been great.”
Andy’s triumph continues the success stories coming from Universal Physique Gym, on Havelock Place, with many members going on to win competitions across the country.
“Everyone has been fantastic from the gym too as well as my coach Ken,” he said. “Usually I am the one helping other people because that’s my job and I love doing it. I absolutely love bodybuilding and it’s great that I am able to have such an impact on other people’s lives.”