My interest in starting an own gym was growing and I told this to my dad, he was a little surprised of my decision, but he said that he understood me. So in April 1995 I opened my first gym. For me, a dream came true. The name of my gym is DO IT.
The only thing I didn't know, was when you have your own gym, you can not train when you want. Always when I was training, people came to me and asked me to explain some machines or an exercise. That's why I always make an appointment with new people. I can plan my own training better. New people that come for the first time I guide to the program that I made for them. I think that this is a good and very imported thing to do, so they learn to do the exercises correct right from the start.
When I opened my gym, I was the only guy who did bodybuilding contests. But after a while, more people got interested in the sport, and wanted to try a diet, and changing their training. There were some guys with potential, so I tried to motivate them. In 1997 in wanted to compete again, and I had 2 other guys, who wanted to diet with me. It was working very well, and they placed both in the finals from there first contest.
One won his class, and the other was second in his own class. I placed third on my contest, and that was one for me, because I still had a lot to learn before I could move to a higher level.
In 1997 we organized a DO IT show.
This was only a show for people that are training in my gym, and the audience was also only for people from my gym. I had 21 people that participated, and it was a big success. This was just a show, and not a contest. 5 guys from this group where ready for contests, so they competed in a grand prix, 2 weeks later. This was the body art classic and the do it cup. It was an organization from Ferdy, the boss from Performance, Michel Heirman, a gym owner from Antwerp and me. We had a lot of prices for the top 3. The first one got a video, the second a hot air food cooking machine, and the third a blender. The overall winner got a TV. So we did this for the athletes. Every competitor got a can of protein powder and a T-shirt. So everybody went home with something, even the last one.
From then on, I knew more from diet and training, and helped other athletes, to reach their goal.
In 1998, I wanted to compete again, but I had a lot of work in the gym. So my shape was not as hard as I wanted. I was bigger than ever, but not hard enough.
I placed 5th in Holland, 3th in Belgium, and a few days later I was in Holland with Michel, because he was a judge in a contest. I wanted to look there, and the promoter came to me, if I wanted to compete.
So why not, I said. And they arranged music, posingtrunk, tan and a towel. So after the prejudging, I was 3th by the heavyweights. I was there to look, and I competed, great day man, I didn't even know the song I was posing on. The same year, I wanted to compete again, because I started to like it, and Michel helped me with my nutrition. I was hard like hell, and competed at 195 pounds. I won the light heavywheigts and got second in the overall with one single point from the winner. From then on, I knew how to diet.
The year after 1999, I went on a diet with my athletes. If I am on a diet, I know how they feel, so that was the reason. I was in great shape, so I decided to compete in the b level in Holland.
I was 7th, in a line up from 20 athletes. I was glad with my place and I called Mr. Blommaert that I wanted to compete semi finals from the Belgium championships. I came a lot harder, because I wanted to compete here. I won the heavyweights and the overall, at a bodyweight from 212 pounds. The same day, I won my ticket to the European championships, so for me a dream came true.
At the European champs, I stood next to Francisco Bautista. Men, he was big and hard. I never saw legs like that before.
I placed 9th, and was very glad with my place.
At the end of that year, I was the favorite for the Belgium title, so that was a little stress for me.
But I had a good support from my dad, girlfriend, Ruud and Fery, my sponsor. I came fuller and sharper than in the beginning of the year, at 242 pounds, and won my class and the overall with only ones at my scorecard. I was crying, when they said my name. All the hard work and stress was falling from my shoulders. At the international contest, after the Belgium championships the same day, I placed second. I was glad, because there where a lot of guys in the line up, who where idols for me, and I won from them. Some of them are competing now as IFBB professionals.
In 2000, I was trying to gain some weight, and I couldn't compete at the spring shows, because I was an international athlete from now on, because I won the overall in 1999. I competed at the October shows.

My first show was in Luxembourg, and I won my class and the overall. The fed cup was the second contest, a week after, and placed 3, after world champion Thomas Schue, and a big black guy from Sweden, Gabriel Onydium. I was 230 pounds, and was very glad to place that high. It was a line up from 21 athletes and all of them where from other country's.
For me it was important to place as best Belgium guy.
6 weeks later, there was another grand prix in Charleroi. I placed third again, but now behind Tommi Thorvildsen and Marc Gijs, who won the world championships a week before. I was 8 pounds heavier then on the fed cup and sharper. Both are IFBB professionals now.

In 2001 I brought Tommi Thorvildsen to Belgium, and he stayed here for almost 2 years. He got a contract from Performance, and we started to train together.
I changed my diet and training. More protein, lower carbs and really heavy training.
Tommi is the strongest guy I ever trained with, and very focused. So he taught me how to train the way Mike Mentzer did. I taught him some things from diet and food combination, togheter with Ferdy.

In April I competed again and my contest weight was again heavier, and my muscle got more mature.
So I placed second, behind Thomas Schue, with 3 points difference. My weight was 245 pounds, and I gave Thomas a hard time for his money. After that contest, I went with Tommi to Toronto and New York.
We got e great time there, and Tommy placed 4e at Toronto, and 6e at New York. He was in the best shape of his life.
The day after the Night of the Champions, we had a photo shoot at central park, with Raymond Ceasar, and an article with Rosemary Hallumn from Musclemag.
It was a great weekend.