Fredericton – Chris Justason, of St. Stephen, stumbled and nearly fell over while on stage, moments after he was announced as the Men’s Physique Overall Champion in the New Brunswick Provincial Bodybuilding Championship in Fredericton Saturday.
Prior to being awarded as the overall champion, Justason claimed first place in the Men’s Physique Tall category.
“Surprised is not even the word,” Justason said with a laugh.
“When we first went out, I knew that I was in the top five, and I was completely happy with that. I didn’t care where I placed; I was there to finish what I started. I truly had no intention in placing first, or didn’t believe I would.
“I thought, ‘I can’t believe this is happening’; I can’t believe they picked me over these two amazing athletes.”
The provincial competition was only the second time Justason has participated in a competition.
The first time Justason graced the stage was two weeks prior, when he claimed second place in the Men’s Physique Tall category at the Saint John Fall Classics competition.
“That was my very first show – I was nervous until I walked out on stage,” Justason said.
“Everyone is excited and pumped up, and you’re looking around, and these guys all look really good, but once I stepped out on stage, the nervousness went away.”
The participants are judged by the symmetrical shape of the body, overall appearance and physique, posing, smile, posture, and confidence level.
Justason made the decision to compete after recovering from two shoulder surgeries in early 2015. He said he always worked out, but had never thought about competing until he met his girlfriend, Amy Willey.
Justason said it was Willey who “believed in me” and “gave me the courage” to embark on the journey.
After making the decision to begin training, Justason hired St. Stephen native Randy Madsen as his trainer.
“You need someone to help guide you and help you when you’re down and to tell you you’re worth it – if it wasn’t for Randy, I wouldn’t be where I was.”
Justason said he had to gain 13.6 kilograms (30 lbs) and consume a whopping 5,000 calories a day.
“It is a struggle financially, with the gym membership, the protein drinks and buying enough food – one person is eating enough for a small family,” Justason chuckled.
Though Justason already had his first win behind him prior to the provincial competition, he admitted his confidence was still shaky, and nerves nearly got the better of him.
“In all honesty, two days before I almost had a nervous breakdown,” Justason said. “A lot of people say it’s the mental side of it that really beats you down because you need to make yourself do things that you don’t want to do, like cardio, not eating when you’re hungry.
“Prior to my show I had my mother come to my house one night until 3 a.m., and she told me, ‘you’re not going to give up’.”
Following the competition, Justason returned to his hotel room, made some calls and with a laugh, said he ordered a small pizza.
“I sat back on the bed and just tried to take everything in. To take first place and then take overall winner, it never truly even hit me what had taken place.
“I sat there, ate a few pieces of pizza, and I was so exhausted, I fell asleep. I never went out to celebrate; I woke up in the morning still in my clothes,” Justason chuckled.
In the morning, Justason gathered his things, packed up his truck, and placed his two trophies in the passenger side. It wasn’t until the drive home that the results of competition began to sink it.
“As I started driving down the Hanwell road, it was hitting me. It started hitting me what I just achieved. Not a lot of people in their second show achieve that, and I’m sitting there thinking to myself, ‘oh my God’.
Justason said he pulled over and sent Heather LeBlanc (president) and Adam Walker (vice president) of the NB Physique and Fitness Association a message.
“I just told them how much it meant to me and how honoured I was; giving them some insight emotionally how much it affected me, and thanking them.”
With the newfound success, Justason said he plans to continue to train. After the win, he now has a bid to go to Nationals, which he said he hopes to do in 2018.
“I want to build up on my weak spots, and continue to train, and make sure to be the best that I can.”
Justason said he hopes the win will motivate those who are training, or who are thinking about training.
“I hope that they can see that here’s a man that didn’t believe and here’s what he did.
“I was never a person to go 100 per cent, and I almost quit at my 90 per cent mark, but I went through with it, and gave 100 per cent and look at the turnout.”