A Brief Autobiography by Tony Maxim

What is it about this sport that I love so much, this sport called “bodybuilding?” Backstage at any show, the most common question I hear rhetorically aired is, “Why do we do this to ourselves?” Why do we do this to ourselves? I never was a very athletic kid. I remember Dad’s annoyance with me as a child, in my sad attempts to play football with the older kids; the term “throws like a girl” comes to mind! I remember playing in the midget baseball leagues when I was about eight years old. I would be so nervous and upset that I couldn’t eat before a game. My one document that might have proven I wasn’t a total spaz was a photo taken of me, dropping the bat after a good hit and running for first-base. My brother Billy proclaimed that I had been “walked,” and we then proceeded to tear the picture in half, fighting over it!

Then, in 1983, that same brother helped me find my place in sports, when he taught me how to “lift.” Weight training, it seemed, was where I fit in, and I “worked out” for most of my life. At first, it was haphazard, as I worked my way through college, and then through some very time-consuming and low-paying jobs out of college. But slowly, over the years, I developed more and more into a “bodybuilder” then a regular guy who works out a few times a week. My “working out” became “training,” and this training is perhaps the hardest work of my life. Human beings, I believe, are smart in that they generally seek the easiest way to get a task done. Sadly, in Americans, that “smartness” seems to have grown into outright laziness. Just look at the majority of people at the mall or airport too lazy to walk, instead riding along on moving sidewalks and escalators. What is it about bodybuilders that makes us strive for so much more, to voluntarily subject ourselves to such intense efforts, while others are happy to glide through life on moving sidewalks?

Over the years, my training and my diet became much more serious, training in rigorous splits, bidding my trips at work not based on the “good cities,” but on the “good gyms,” and tracking everything I ate, with specific goals each day. Yes, at times I’ve become obsessive about this, but then, that is a typical trait of bodybuilders, as a regimented routine is quite necessary to make progress. And so I continue to strive for a balance in my life, not sacrificing my workouts, but still leaving time for family and friends, for that support is especially important when things get really challenging.

I had truly never planned on competing; to me, I enjoyed just the thrill of working with my body, molding and shaping it as I wanted. But, at the urging of many friends in Orlando, where I lived for most of my adult life, I made it a goal to compete before I turned 40, competing in my first show at age 39, in 2003. In the shows I’ve done since then, I’ve generally done very well. Of course, there have always been politics and unfair rulings in Bodybuilding, for how can there not be in a sport that is so subjective, in a sport not measured with a tape measure but in muscularity, aesthetics, balance, symmetry, definition, separation? My friend in Orlando who was most responsible for persuading me to get onstage had taught me that I was a winner just by stepping onstage that first time. He was so right, and although I had been placing well in regional shows, generally First or Second, I did not want to become a “trophy-collector,” as many guys I know are, forever competing in smaller local and regional shows, held in High School auditoriums all across the country. And so after just two years onstage, I began competing in National level shows in 2005. Although I haven’t yet broken the top-five at a national show, I continue to strive and improve my body.

At times, my own desires for myself are different than what the judges want! More than the ridiculously lean (4% body fat or so) and dehydrated competitive look, I much prefer the off-season look, huge and massive and pumped, with a bit of a muscle gut! But that doesn’t sell onstage (anymore…some pro’s of recent years have won top titles, including the previous reigning Olympia, with huge muscle-guts!) And so my look, you’ll find in this site, varies a lot between the two, competitive and off-season. My ultimate goal is, and always has been, to just do my best. I think that is a goal that we all can pursue, in whatever endeavors we may try. There is a deep satisfaction that I feel within, in pursuing my dreams, in building and shaping and molding my body. We can all do it, most don’t. To strive for constant improvements in the face of life’s challenges, to share this energy with those that do, to be a part of this sport called “bodybuilding” is so rewarding to me. That is why I do it. That is why I do it.