High def

TRAVERSE CITY- Once athletes graduate or stop competing in sports, many slow down or stop their exercise routines. Blain Scheller has never been one of those people.

Scheller, a former Alpena resident, recently won the 34th Annual Grand Traverse Body Building and Figure Championship. This competition took place at the Leelanau Sands Casino showroom April 12.

Scheller beat out 15 other male bodybuilders to take home the title of “Mr. Grand Traverse 2014.”

“Its a major achievement. A lot of time and effort is put into it and it’s hard to even put the words to the feeling,” he said.

Scheller, a 2000 graduate of AHS, earned a degree in concrete technology from ACC in 2002. He then moved to Traverse City and currently works for an engineering inspection firm.

Scheller, always an avid exerciser, joined the “Fit for You Gym” in Traverse City in 2004. This gym hosts and promotes the Grand Traverse Body Building and Figure Championship.

Scheller competed for the first time in 2007, but did not receive a first or second place finish.

“I took a break after 2007 and figured that (2014) was the time to compete again,” he said. “It just seemed like a great way to get back into shape and I always had the passion to win it.”

Scheller’s training routine was long and strenuous. He followed a year and a half long exercise and diet routine designed by “Fit for You” owners Jeff and Vern Gauthier.

His preparation for the show started in December 2012. He lifted weights for over an hour and a half every day for 11 months to build muscle mass and to maintain a weight of 205 pounds.

In November 2013, he started a strict diet, during which he lost 1-2 pounds per week. The food was very plain, containing no seasoning or salts and almost no fat.

“Working out comes easy to me. Its enjoyable and keeps me in shape.The hardest part of the training is the diet,” he said. “Eating the same foods every day, eating seven meals a day, starting at 5 a.m., then a 7:30 breakfast, then eating every 2 1/2 to 3 hours after is tough and gets very expensive.”

The strenuous exercise routine and the difficult diet paid off. By the day of the show, he was 163 pounds of pure muscle.

Scheller was placed in the “novice” class, a class for competitors who have never taken a first or second place win. He was then shifted into the “short” category.

When the show started, each class and category was arranged from shortest to tallest. Competitors were dressed solely in a Speedo, to best show off their physique.

Once everyone is lined up, each competitor gets a few minutes to flex and show off their muscles. They are judged based on muscle definition and presentation.

Presentation is crucial to winning, as competitors must know how to present their body to the judges to show off the maximum level of muscle definition.

Understanding body angles, lighting, positioning on the stage and keeping up a solid level of energy are all vital to winning body building competitions.

“The thing that makes all the difference is your body’s physical endurance. Posing is very straining on your body when your motivation is at rock bottom,” Scheller said. “The day of the show, you’re physically drained and mentally drained.”

As if that wasn’t enough of a strain on the body, competitors often dehydrate themselves to increase muscle definition. Scheller went 50 hours without water before and during the competition.

Scheller’s hard work and dedication paid off when he not only won in the men’s novice, short category, but was named the best overall competitor and Mr. Grand Traverse 2014.

Although he has no specific plans for competing again, he has expressed interest in other shows around the state in cities like Grand Rapids, Flint and Detroit. Whether he competes again, it’s likely Scheller will always work hard to improve his physique and test the limits of his abilities.

“Bodybuilding is more of a lifestyle than a hobby. You have to give up so much. Every week counts, so going out to eat and taking vacation are things you can’t do,” he said. “The way I look at it, there’s always somebody bigger and better than you. On that day, I was the best.”

Eric Benac can be reached via email at ebenac@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 358-5690. Follow Eric on Twitter @EricBenac.