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
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
It was a great weekend.