Press Play - Album cover
Destiny
Press Play - NY2LA (2010)
An interview with Ben Booker, 2010 Bodyspace Spokesmodel
All photos copyright 2010 Great Exposures and Faith & Fitness Magazine. Used by permission.

Faith & Fitness Magazine: You recently appeared on the cover of Iron Man Magazine as the 2010 Bodyspace Spokesmodel. Congratulations! That is quite the prize. What is it like to be catapulted into overnight celebrity status?


Ben Booker: It has been quite an experience. I have been doing a lot of traveling for bodybuilding.com and for Applied Nutriceuticals. After the win I contacted AppNut (a manufacturer of sports and wellness supplements) and told them I won the Bodybuilding.com spokes model competition while using their products for over a year. I am know their official company spokes model. Many doors are opening and I plan on taking advantage of as many opportunities I can. It did happen overnight it seems.

FF: Looks like the cover of Muscle & Fitness Magazine is next in your site. You’ve gotta strike while you’re on a role. Do you have any concerns you’ll get caught up in all the hype from others and your own personal push for success?

BB: That is something that I pray about on a daily basis. I use the Serenity prayer every morning and throughout the day to keep me grounded. There is a constant struggle for balance. Balance between working out, being a husband and father, eating right, and fulfilling the responsibilities that bb.com and AppNut have for me. I sometimes have a hard time letting go, and letting God take everything. I used to be better about it. I believe my success has come as I let God take control of everything in my life.

FF: It appears in the press that you’re not holding back when it comes to revealing your relationship with God. How well do you feel your interviewers, sponsors and others are receiving that? Getting any feedback to tone it down a bit?

BB: Surprisingly I have not had anybody tell me to tone it down. I do think that it is a tough business though. If I didn’t share about how I depend on God then maybe I could have more opportunities. But why? Many people in the business simply tell people what they want to hear to get ahead. I see where it could be easy to get caught up in the spotlight. I have fallen victim to letting it consume me on occasion. What I believe to be true is that I have made it this far by not holding back my faith. The more I revealed, it seemed, the further I got. I began receiving that peace and serenity that can go as quickly as it comes. I want to try to stay on His path, following His will and not mine. Things seem to work out better, and just the way they are supposed to when I can give my will and my life over to the care of God on a daily basis.

FF: A lot of the focus of these interviews is on diet, training, competing, your career and more. The whole spiritual component would likely be totally ignored if you didn’t bring it out. What role does your faith play in your daily life? I mean you publicly thank God for being there when you need Him and leading the way. But give us the deeper look… How do you need Him and in what ways is he leading you?


BB: I believe the real question is when do I not need Him and what is He not involved in? The truth is there is little that I do control in this simple life. He is involved in everything that I do, from the minute I wake up, to the minute I lay my head on the pillow he directs me when I look and listen. I often forget to do this and my day does not go as well. But when I can look at the signs He puts in front of me and listen to what He says, days are phenomenal.
I am a recovering Alcoholic. My sobriety started in September 2005. Once I began to sober up, my spirituality really began. My journey toward getting to know the God of my under- standing has been an unbelievable one. I often tell people that if back then I wrote out this glorious plan of what my life could be… it would not even touch what God has laid down before me. What I know now is that God is always here, He is always showing me the path, and always trying to talk to me. The problem is that you must be willing to listen. You must have faith that things will work out [well by God’s provision] if you just follow His lead. My physical growth has been in direct connection with my spiritual growth.

FF: Why is it important to you to introduce your audience to God?

BB: I believe that I am right where I am for a reason. God has put me in a position to be of maximum service to others. When I began on bodybuilding.com I did not disclose much detail about my background and faith out of fear. Then I came across John Rahn’s profile. He expressed a strong faith and relationship with God. He was also a model. What he had on his Bodyspace profile was powerful. We are good friends now and after the first meeting with him I changed my profile and began to get honest with everyone with whom I talked. I do not regret my past and I know that hardship is the pathway to peace. It is so important to let my audience know who I am and my faith because I would not be where I am today without God. I feel that He works through me on a daily basis to reach people that need Him.

FF: OK, so let’s get “back” into the training. From lats to shoulders to biceps and tris… all around nice symmetry. But I want you to focus a moment on those Abs. You’ve got at least a 6-pack (maybe an 8-pack) that is truly ripped and shredded. I’ve asked you to share some of your favorite abdominal exercises in our Men’s Interest department. But for here I want you to highlight the key things anyone must do if they want to improve their mid-section. How realistic or doable is it?

BB: It is so realistic and doable for anyone to reach the “6 pack” goal if they are willing and ready to take certain steps. First you must get a hold of your diet. This is so key! Most people have a 6-pack hidden beneath a layer of fat. I talk a lot about my diet, and have a sample plan posted on my Bodyspace page. Next you must get in the gym and start throwing some serious weight around. Core lifts are crucial to achieving your perfect midsection. Squats, deadlifts, and leg presses are just a few of my favorite core exercises that you must incorporate into your lifting routine. After that, you must treat your abs like any other muscle group on your body. What I mean by this is choosing exercises that allow you to achieve failure at about 12 to 20 reps. If you would not do 3 sets of 50 on squats, then don’t do 3 sets of 50 on abs.

FF: Give us an idea of just how long it has taken to get to where you are today. How has the transformation and training evolved and what exactly do you do to get in such shape? How much work does it take?

BB: I grew up playing sports and lifted on and off up until my accident right before my senior year. I was three weeks into football season and broke my back when I wrecked my vehicle. But by the grace of God [others weren’t hurt as bad] I was the one with the worst injuries. If my third and fourth lumbar would have shattered IN instead of out, I would have been paralyzed from the waist down. This was in 1999 and I was sentenced to bed rest for two months. I weighed 130 pounds and had to relearn how to walk.
It was when I began half days of high school again I found the weight room. While my teammates played football, basketball, and ran track… I lifted. I entered college my freshman year at around 160 and as close to fully recovered as I could be. I struggled with my alcoholism from this point on, until 2005. I would replace heavy drinking with heavy lifting for months, until the alcohol would take back over and consume me. I would go something like 4 to 8 months on and 4 to 8 months off. I was able to get solid gains throughout these periods, but nothing too substantial. It was when I was able to begin growing in my spiritual sobriety that I was able to grow physically.
Throughout all of these years I was able to figure out what gave me best results when it came to my diet. I have stuck to the Big-Beyond-Belief 4-day program for all of these years. It was not until I won the bodybuilding.com spokes model competition that I was able to commit to the 6-day program out of the same book. You must find a program and stick to it, not changing a thing. Commit and conquer!

BEN’S 6-DAY WORKOUT FROM BIG-BEYOND-BELIEF
(This is provided for information only. Consult with your doctor before beginning any training program.) There will be three minutes in between each set and rep, and 3 sets of everything. Instead of starting with 13 to 15 reps you will be starting with 10 to 12. You should really push yourselves, doing weight that you thought you couldn’t. It is all about absolute failure for sure in this week. (3 minute rest between each set)

DAY ONE: 10 to 12 reps, 3 sets of single arm seated rows, 3 sets of dumbell incline, 3 sets of barbell curls (one set equals about 6 full range to failure and then finish set doing halves to failure), 3 sets of calf raises.

DAY TWO: 10 to 12 reps, 3 sets of standing overhead barbell press, 3 sets of single arm cable push downs, 3 sets of squats, 3 sets of intermittent wipers.

DAY THREE: 8 to 10 reps, 3 sets Regular cable flys or fly machine, 3 sets of reverse grip, back at 45, seated lat pull downs, 3 sets of single arm dumbell curls on seated curl pad, 3 sets of standing barbell calf raises.

DAY FOUR: 8 to 10 reps, 3 sets of Arnold presses, 3 sets of weighted dumbell lunges, 3 sets of reverse grip single arm cable pull downs (you should stop arm at a 90 on all of these tricep cable exercises), 3 sets of crunches (holding each sit up 3 seconds at top) Left, center, right.

DAY FIVE: 5 to 7 reps, 3 sets of dumbell bench (pack on that weight with a spotter), 3 sets of seated rows, 3 sets of concentration curls, three sets of machine calf raises.

DAY SIX: 5 to 7 reps, 3 sets of overhead dumbell press, 3 sets of straight bar cable push downs, 3 sets of deadlifts, 3 sets of weighted decline bench sit ups, This is when you wow yourself. It is called big beyond belief for a reason. This is a good week to grow. the sets and reps and time in between will remain the same for four weeks. The exercises are the only thing that will change.


FF: That sounds like a really demanding workout. What makes bodybuilding a sacrifice? How do you define sacrifice from a training standpoint?

BB: Training in the gym is only the beginning. There are not enough hours in the day! I sacrifice many things to get to the level I am. I constantly have to be aware of what I am eating, and what I am going to eat. It is a full time job. I also have to make it to the gym for an hour six days weekly. That usually does not include the drive time to and from the gym. Along with that I want to be a great husband and father. My wife is the best thing that ever happened to me. She has supported me and has been there by my side through everything. We have grown together through the good and the bad times. Early on, before I even knew about bodybuilding.com, I told her that I was going to commit to this lifestyle of bodybuilding. I felt like it was my calling.

FF: It is great to see you express that your wife and children are very important to you. But I suspect they are making some big sacrifices for you to achieve spokes model status.

BB: Tensions get high around the household when it becomes late in the day and my wife Erin says to me, “Lets take a family trip to Wal-Mart and go out to eat” then I respond with, “ I have to get to the gym sometime today.” I work a forty-hour work-week, work out six days a week, eat six to eight times a day. My wife sacrifices a lot to make time for me to get what I need to get done. I could not do it without her. She is constantly thinking of meals that I can eat. Cooking chicken and fish in the bulk. I would not be the man I am today if she was not by my side.



FF: Have there been any stresses in your household? With all that is going on are there any challenges now and do you see the pressures becoming greater?

BB:I do see the pressures getting greater, but that is mostly all put on by me. I struggle with finding a balance. I let the career possibilities consume me. It distracts me from being a good husband and father and that is when stresses usually develop. I am also traveling more than I ever have before. This traveling is usually done by myself and on weekends away from the family.

FF: Sometimes our greatest successes can also become our biggest vulnerabilities. At the very least you’ve read the Bible enough to know that Satan is there to destroy you. How do you face that inevitable challenge?

BB: I face the challenges by trying to get on my knees every morning when I wake and every night before bed. I offer myself to God, that He will use me as He wishes. I pray for Him to relieve me from the bondage of self. [I need] victory over that. I believe that just like God is always there… Satan is too. I must stay spiritually fit to stay away from temptation and evil. God does for me what I can’t do for myself. I try to live in the moment and not worry about the past and the future. I live one day at a time.

FF: You say what I think are some pretty deep statements in your Bodybuilding.com interview with Matt Weik. Take a moment here and go even deeper expanding on each of the statements you made:
“WOW! I try to lead by example for my kids and others by walking the walk.”

BB: If I can just hold my head up high, believing and acting what I say, then I am doing good. I try to lead by example and if I tell you I am going to do something, I do it. I follow through, I do the next right thing because that is what I am supposed to do. I believe kids need good strong parents in this day and age, and it is more important than ever for them to have strong and positive role models. I refuse to be a bad role model.
“For years of my life I talked the talk and fell short of being the person I wanted to be. But as soon as I started leading a healthy lifestyle, following His lead, and keeping my eyes wide open, amazing things started to present themselves.”


BB: Being an alcoholic I made promises that I could not keep. I told people I would slow down or stop drinking. and I could not. I had glorious plans that never led anywhere. It was not until I truly began my spiritual journey through sobriety that I finally began believing in myself and believing that I can actually accomplish things that I used to believe to be so far out of my reach. My greatest enemies today are resentments, jealousy, envy, frustration, and fear. I battle these today by living one day at a time believing in God and having a strong faith that everything happens for a reason.
“Knowing that in my heart of hearts that I did everything right and left nothing on the table, and it was good enough for the win... that is awesome!”

BB: This is a good one that gave me chills! God is amazing. I gave everything to Him during these days leading up to the event. I led each day through blind faith receiving a sense of peace and serenity each day. A calm had come over me and I knew that things where going to work out the way they were supposed too.


FF: What are your plans for the future? In what ways would you like to be used of God?
BB: I believe that this is just the beginning. I would hope that God keeps working through me, directing me toward the right path. My future is unwritten and only He knows where I am heading. I pray that when the time comes for me to do His work each day that I am ready. I pray that I can follow Him in grace and receive more peace and serenity each and everyday. I believe that I have a future in this fitness industry and I am excited [for God] to write the next chapter in my life. I am going to keep dreaming, believing and achieving.


FF: So we see what it takes to get the bodybuilding trophy. But in the bigger picture what is your real prize in life and how will you gain it?

BB:I believe the real prize in life comes from helping others to become better. I receive a great amount of satisfaction by helping another person. The real prize in life is receiving that peace and serenity. I work toward [living] a better life, growing spiritually each and everyday. I am striving for progress and not perfection. Living in today… because that is all we really have.
Discussion Questions: CONSIDER THE REAL SACRIFICE IN FINDING THE REAL PRIZE
  1. 1. Ben says, “Early on, I told [my wife] that I was going to commit to this lifestyle of bodybuilding. I felt like it was my calling.” How important is it to have a God-given calling in life? What roles might others play in supporting your commitment? What commitments should you make to them?
  2. 2. Ben readily recognizes his struggles: “I pray that I can follow Him”, “I have a hard time letting go” and “career possibilities [distract and] consume me”. What struggles do you face? What makes the struggles part of the spiritual sacrifice? How can you better let go of your struggles and be more consumed by God?
  3. 3. What are the real prizes that you value most in life? How will your physical discipline and experiences shape your journey toward those prizes?

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