Workouts at homemade gym finally pay off
Mr. Guyana for bodybuilding competition in Venezuela By Neil Marks
Guyana Chronicle
September 15, 2002

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AFTER about a decade of workouts at a homemade gym, 31-year-old bodybuilder, Paul Nichols is on his way to Venezuela for the Central American Bodybuilding Championships after winning the Mr. Guyana competition last month.

ichols won the title on August 11 at the competition held at the National Cultural Centre.

A former cyclist, Nichols quit that sport at age 20, and a year later, decided to make good use of the weights his Uncle had left him.

He started out, "just exercising", with his pal Forbes Mitchell and some others.

"I had it (the weights) in my yard, but I never really used it much, so the guys used to come around and use it to exercise," he recalled.

It started out with an abdominal board.

Then the guys decided to put gas in a tin, get a chair with the seat on the same level as the tin, and put a board across. The result? The benchpress.

"Basically, it was just the joy of doing weightlifting exercises. We weren't serious about competing or anything like that," Nichols recalled.

The inventions soon became too much for Nichols' yard in Newtown, Kitty, Georgetown, and so, the "gym" was moved over to Mitchell's place.

"Basically, it started in my backyard, but his yard was much more spacious and we moved the weights over," he said.

The other machines were soon on the way - the pull up bar, which was built out of an old cycle, the squatting racks, the bars, and the benches, which were made out of wood.

Today, Mitchell runs the gym under the name Power Plant in Newtown, Kitty, Georgetown

Nichols started competing in bodybuilding in 2000, taking part in the Novices and Intermediate categories. He won both competitions.

Last year, he stepped up the competition ladder, taking part in the senior championships and placed third.

"I wasn't prepared then," Nichols said.

This year, however, he knew what he needed to do.

On the August 11 competition night, Nichols posed down at the National Cultural Centre and captured the Mr. Guyana title, earning the title of the country's senior champion.

A `tasteless worldí
But the three-year road to success has not been full of glory.

"Believe me, itís not easy, itís not easy," he said.

"When you start competing, itís not just about lifting weights anymore, itís about dieting and using supplements to enhance your body Ö and to keep your body muscles intact," he offered.

Nichols explained that in bodybuilding, what is required is a lot of protein intake, because "itís good for the muscles", and carbohydrates, to break down the fat and bring out the muscles.

Because of these requirements, a strict diet has to be adhered to.

"You have to come off salt. Itís like an 'ital' dish. You can't eat what your Mom cooks, or take a taste. Itís a no greasy food, no fatty food world for a professional bodybuilder. I like to call it a tasteless world," Nichols said.

One very real challenge is acquiring the finance to buy essential supplements.

To train and look well, you must think professionally, Nichols insists. He abhors the "anyhow" look of some bodybuilders.

"Looking good is looking hard and having good (muscles). You have to diet to bring out your muscles, keep a proper level of protein to keep your muscles hardÖ You have to coordinate your exercises, as in knowing what to do and when to do it and that sort of thing," he advised.

Of course, Nichols did not enter the bodybuilding world knowing everything, and wisely sought advice from people like Leroy George, a former Mr. Guyana.

"Once I knew what to do, I just did it," Nichols said.

He is convinced that bodybuilding is not something someone in Guyana would "want to make a living off of, because you can'tÖ"

"When you come out on top, you feel good about yourself," Nichols said.

Nichols is well aware that there is no hype about bodybuilding in Guyana, but he would very like for that to change. He wants for more local companies to support the sport.

Nichols does not see his future in bodybuilding.

"Its something I like, but its something I'll not get into that deep," Mr. Guyana insists.

Nichols is honoured that he is following in the footsteps of bodybuilding great, Horace Steele.

"There is nobody in Guyana who could beat him, he is beyond national competition," he said of his idol.

Also, the love shown to him by close relatives, especially Claire, makes Nichols feel like the champion bodybuilder that he is.

Currently, Nichols works along with his sister Claire in a waste management business.

He calls it something "interesting and different".

Nichols is eager to take to the stage in Venezuela, where he will compete in the 154-pound class.

Currently, he is sweating out at Power Plant to throw off some 10 pounds in order to be eligible for the competition.