MEET BEN BOOKER
After an amazing personal transformation, Ben Booker has become one of the top inspirational fitness personalities.
He is the founder of Second Chance Lifestyle, the inventor of the Razor Hybrid Crossover, a national cover model, and a sought-after motivational speaker. His latest endeavor includes Second Chance Fitness • 24 Hour Gym where he is able to serve the people in his community and help them reach their full potential in health.
GROWTH BEGINS AT FAILURE!
This saying is more than just a story line, it’s my reality. My emotional, mental, and physical development was put on hold when alcohol took a strong hold on my life. I don’t remember when it happened, but there was a line that was crossed, where it wasn’t much fun to drink anymore because I had lost the control to stop once I started. Alcohol had a hold of me and at the time, I didn’t know it. I do not regret my past for it has shaped me into who I am today.
I was involved in an auto accident when I was 17, three weeks into football season. I had three other passengers in the vehicle at the time of the wreck while I was driving. I flipped the vehicle, was thrown out, and broke my third and fourth lumbar in my back. I thank God that I sustained the most injuries. I was drunk and received a DUI. I was on bed rest for two months and lost about 35 pounds through muscular atrophy. I had to wear a back brace for an additional two months and then went back to school for half days after some physical therapy. I was unable to play any sports my senior year of high school and was devastated.
The first physical thing I was able to do after the removal of my back brace was the bench press. I fully recovered after high school and began to steer my focus on bodybuilding.
The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. I was insane! To a non alcoholic that wreck would have been reason enough to stop drinking, or to at least stop drinking and driving. But not to an alcoholic… it took me another seven years before I began an unbelievable journey to recovery. But by the Grace of God I can, and I will.
GOD WORKS IN MYSTERIOUS WAYS
The best times in my life have since come about from overcoming my greatest failures. Serious growth in all aspects of my life has been a direct result of conquering fears, overcoming what seemed to be insurmountable obstacles, and accepting God in my life. Knowing with everything that I am that His will is what I need to follow and not mine has moved me closer towards unbelievable achievements. It has, and always will be, a growing process, a journey, that is far better scripted than I could have ever imagined.
I met my beautiful wife the summer after I quit college at a mutual friend’s graduation party; I was 20 at the time. I do not regret quitting school as I know now that it’s all part of a bigger picture. God works in mysterious ways! I thank God for the lessons He has taught me at the pace I needed to learn, as I know now I might not have met and married my wife. I might not have been blessed with my three children. And, I might not have known what true love really is. What amazing magic it is to give someone all of your love as they do, growing together, and experiencing happiness and gratitude on a level I didn’t know existed.
I also believe in evil. I know that God gave us free will and we choose every day. We make decisions that direct us on our journey. We can choose to ignore the signs that God lays down in front of us, or we can make conscious decisions and keep our eyes and our ears open to these signs. It is my experience that the spiritual, mental, and physical growth that follows is miraculous. The journey has surpassed my wildest dreams.
BUILDING A NEW CHAPTER
I was 24 when I stopped drinking and was married with one child. My beautiful daughter Madalyn is such a blessing. We were living in a house I had bought when I was 20. It was a party house turned into a family house after we got married. I went to college for two years, working breaks and summers for my dad’s plumbing, heating and electrical company in my hometown. After I quit school I began working full time. I have learned an unbelievable trade in plumbing, HVAC, and electrical that enabled me to build my dream house.
Not long after I was sober I made a deal with a friend of mine. We had a conversation in the living room of a mutual friend’s home. His father owns a very successful construction company that he worked for so it seemed to make pretty good sense that if we combined our skills, we could help build each other’s houses with no labor costs. So, with a handshake and many, many hard working labor hours later, we have built wonderful homes for our families. I worked countless nights and weekends, often putting in 12 to 16 hour days. I also had two other friends who helped out during my building process who I have repaid since. A dream and a handshake, followed by sheer determination, was my first experience in turning dreams into realities.
This was my first experience in the power of belief. I found working hard can really make dreams come true. If I would have listened to those around me, people who I looked up to and trusted, I would not have built my house. “You can’t build it for that amount of money,” they would say, “How are you going to do it with two kids and a wife?”. What drove me was my belief. I had faith and listened to that gut instinct, to God. I prayed and tried to listen for His will. Other people picked up on this drive of mine, and the power of belief took over. Many events happened that I had no idea would. I did not wait until I was ready. I did not wait until I was 100% sure. What I did was believe that I could and would do it and make the end result work no matter what. I did go over budget, but interest rates dropped considerably before I was done. I did underestimate the amount of labor hours it would take, but Jay Richardson, a retired construction worker and dear friend, worked on the house while I was at work during the day. He also helped on the weekends, and his efforts proved to be priceless. He never asked for anything in return – just knowing I could use him, and I was genuinely grateful for all of his help was enough for him. I, of course, have since helped his son on his house to help pay back my debt. I also help him on his rental houses and other miscellaneous projects when he asks.
PUTTING MY HEALTH FIRST
Throughout these projects of building houses, I often neglected working out. I would workout for up to six months straight, and then I would take six months off. I didn’t lift for about a year through the winter of 2007. It was nearly impossible to juggle my responsibilities as a father, husband, worker, and build a house on the side. It wasn’t until I completed my house that I was able to put the focus back on what I was truly passionate about – fitness. All I did was prioritized and put my health at the top of the list!
Throughout my battle with alcoholism I found that when I was working out regularly I felt better about myself and had more control over my body. I wouldn’t want to “sabotage” my efforts in the gym by going on a bender. I have since found out that working out alone does not cure alcoholism. That said, I still saw gains with the “Big Beyond Belief” program since my freshman year in college. I still use this program today.
Before this bodybuilding book (containing three different 18 week programs) I was that lost puppy in the gym. I walked around day to day and did what I felt like doing. I had no direction, no major goals, and no solid routine. By the end of my freshman year in college I was 185, saturated in alcohol. Since 2005, by the grace of God, I have not had any drugs or alcohol, and since 2009, I have not missed a day of my workout program. I have done a four day program and the six day program many times. Sometimes I will even go four days on, and one day off for the entire 18 week program.
BECOMING A SPOKESMODEL
January of 2009 I began using the Applied Nutriceutical brand of supplements through a college friend, Jeremy Mozier, who began selling them. I could get good deal from him, but I found that Bodybuilding.com could come close in price and the service was next to none. I could order the products and get them delivered to my house in as little as two days. Upon finding Bodybuilding.com, I also found BodySpace. This is a community of people like facebook, except fitness orientated. They were sharing fitness tips and progress pictures, and I was intrigued. I was sending my own progress pictures to my friends, so I decided to post some pictures on BodySpace. This was July 22 of 2009. I began to get motivated, after overcoming personal fears of failure, and inquired a fellow member by the name of Tightslick1. He is an aspiring model and now a good friend. I asked him for some tips on becoming a fitness model. It took some convincing, but he inspired me to enter the 2010 BodySpace Spokes-model Contest. I entered it… and I won.
This was my second experience with the power of belief. This was my first contest of its kind, and I was the least experienced contender out of the top five. One pivotal point was the 24 hour voting period the day before the on stage competition. Bodybuilding.com had told us that it was not that important in the final decision. I found out later that it was. I almost didn’t even tell anyone back home about it. It just so happened that the guy who owned my hometown gym G3, Doug Graven, had texted me asking if there was anything he could do to support me. But, to fully understand the power of what happened next I have to give a little background.
I did not have a computer or a smart phone. I was not at a computer anytime before this text, or after. I just so happened to be in front of a laptop computer for the first time on the trip, at the exact moment of the text, checking out the voting website on Bodybuilding.com. This is how I was able to give him the url to vote. I was not a member on Facebook or MySpace, and I am from a small town of 4500 people, so what happened next was God at work.
I gave him the url not thinking much of it, because at the time I believed it had very little to do with the outcome of the competition. Within minutes I start receiving texts: “Facebook is blowing up!”, “We are voting for you!”. You could only vote once from each computer, so you couldn’t just hit the vote button repeatedly. I found out that mass emails had been sent from people I barely knew. Friends went to computer labs and voted on every computer. The community of my hometown of Sullivan really came together and I prevailed by 2% of the overall votes. Overnight I went from plumber to Ironman cover/fitness model. New doors have opened and are continuing to open, allowing me to follow a dream.
This is just the beginning of a new journey…