RT has a Passion for Natural Bodybuilding
AARC member Gary Schell, RRT, cuts an imposing figure as he strides down the corridors of Rapid City Regional Hospital in Rapid City, SD. With a physique to rival that of Arnold Schwarzengger, the 20-year veteran of "natural" bodybuilding exudes not only strength and stamina, but good health as well.
Unlike traditional bodybuilding, which often involves the use of steroids to build up muscle, proponents of the natural sport do everything the old-fashioned way. "There is a big difference between natural bodybuilding and bodybuilding that is not drug tested," says Schell. "Steroid bodybuilders achieve massive size known as freaks in natural bodybuilding." Natural bodybuilding competitions require extensive testing to ensure drugs are kept out of the equation. "All contestants are either subjected to a urinalysis or polygraph test prior to competing."
Schell says he first became interested in bodybuilding after watching Schwarzenegger compete in his last contest in 1981, and has been working out with weights ever since. "I have been weight training since I was 16, and have participated in natural bodybuilding competitions since 1996." This year, he was named overall men's MASTERS champion at the Team USA Natural Bodybuilding Championship competition in Las Vegas, NV, in September, a title which qualified him for the World Natural Olympia held November 10 in Tempe, AZ.
With the help of his hospital and department, which Schell says generously raised more than $1,100 for him to attend the Olympia, he competed among a field of the world's most outstanding athletes, placing fourth in the open short division. "My respiratory care department has been a big support and is one of the main reasons I was able to go to the Natural Olympia. I cannot give enough praise to all the hospital staff and physicians for their support."
Staying in shape for competitions such as the recent events in Las Vegas and Tempe, says Schell, is a long and arduous task. When he's not facing an upcoming competition, he lifts weights five days a week for 40 minutes a stretch and does a cardio routine three days a week for another 40.
Training for an event is even more involved. "When I train for a competition I usually start five months out. The goal is to come in as lean as possible and still maintain muscle mass."
In addition to the weight training, he increases his cardio workouts to six days a week, upping them even further to seven days a week, twice a day, one month prior to the event. Diet also plays a big role in his regimen, consisting of foods high in protein, vegetables, fruits, and low glycemic carbs. "I usually compete at a body fat percent between 4-6 percent."
Aficionados of natural bodybuilding are currently working to get the sport included in the Olympics, and Schell says there are rumors it may make it into the next Summer Games as a "guest sport." In the meantime, he continues to promote the sport and its emphasis on a healthy lifestyle, not just through competitions, but also with his patients in the hospital. "Many patients are very curious about my bodybuilding and always react in a positive way. When they ask me questions about natural bodybuilding, I tell them the importance of a healthy diet and exercise, which will lead to a healthy lifestyle."
His biggest source of strength and inspiration, however, is his wife, Sherry, who he says has enabled him to maintain his strict training regimen and participate in the competitions. "Without my wife Sherry, I would be unable to accomplish anything in this sport. She is my strength and my biggest fan."