In 2009, I remember walking through the NPC nationals expo in Atlanta Georgia. I had just gotten off stage from, at that time, a career high for me. My first ever Showing at NPC Nationals ( THE Nationals), held every year as the last NPC show. With friends and family watching, I placed 5th in my class. Like I said, at that time, a career high for me. Walking around the expo, on cloud nine... There she was.... Oh and wait... Look over there! Both my Fitness idols at the time were in clear view, Ava Cowan and Erin Stern. Like any competitor would do and still does to their idols, I went and took a picture with both ladies and got a signed picture from both of them.
Ava signed "anything is possible" and Erin sent "lots of love, rock the stage". Since November 2009, those pictures have been on my refrigerator. Call it crazy or whatever you want to call it... Everyday consciously or subconsciously, I look at their pictures. My dream was to one day stand next to these ladies on stage. To stand next to the best in the world of Figure. To say I made or that I experienced a conquest of myself, made it in this competitive industry or a dream of a little girl. Just recently, I stood next to Ava Cowan on stage at the NY Pro. I was nervous, but that was part of the development process as an individual and also as a competitor. Backstage one weekend at the Pittsburgh Pro, I was fortunate enough to witness great brotherhood between the worlds best bodybuilders.... In the pack of 8 guest posers, big names like Branch Warren, Phil Heath, Dexter Jackson, Kai Greene and Jay Cutler ,were of course drawing the attention, but what I witnessed from a conversation between these "big names" and a rookie was a beautiful thing. The rookie was an IFBB Pro that was guest posing at the show, but not had made his pro debut yet. For those of you who have ever had a first day of school, first day at work, first date, etc... Multiply that time 50, take off your clothes, do it in front of thousands of people live, and then unwillingly allow five or more industry photographers to put your pictures (good or bad) online and you have just "experienced your pro debut" :) :) with me ?! What I witnessed were the veterans surrounding the "new guy". They were using terms like "the next big thing", "star", "great"...etc. when I heard this, it made me believe in dreams all over again. I guarantee somewhere on his refrigerator, there are pictures of his idols and a dream to one day stand next to them! He too had a dream, a dream people probably laughed at or called him crazy for. A dream that he envisioned when he day dreamed over and over in his head. My point here.... Well, Dream big... Take chances... And let them call you crazy because you are far more capable of achieving things you believe you can achieve, than making excuses why you will never get there. Consult not your fears, but your hopes and your dreams. Pope John xxiii Ryan Hays Althoff is an IFBB Figure Professional. While not browsing the isles of Whole Foods or pumping iron, Ryan is volunteering for the Great Dane rescue, playing with her sweet four legged child Peaches, laughing with friends, or visiting doctor’s offices by day as a Pharmaceutical Sales Representative. Ryan enjoys her busy life, but will always take a laid back day at the beach.