News: Tennessee National Guard Soldier wins National Physique Committee National Middleweight Championship
Story by Staff Sgt. Melissa Wood
Step inside Clarksville’s Anytime Fitness, and be greeted by a mural-sized homage paying tribute to one of the gym’s own – personal fitness trainer Thomas Anderson, who was recently crowned NPC’s (National Physique Committee) National Middleweight Champion, a feat which earned him a coveted place among the world’s top body building professionals.
Outside the gym, Pvt. 1st Class Anderson spends his time with the Tennessee Army National Guard’s 230th Signal Battalion, where he serves as a Radio Communications Security Repairman.
“Any kind of ground or radio equipment, we troubleshoot it, find out what the problem is, and then we repair it accordingly,” he explained.
Anderson said his military training has significantly contributed to his training methodology inside the gym.
“It actually gave me a sense of discipline,” he said. “It has given me a sense of structure.”
“When I first started working out, I actually had a lot of problems coming up with different exercises and routines to maximize my workouts whenever I went to the gym,” he continued. “The National Guard provided that structure, so it carried over to where I could actually sit down and evaluate what I wanted to do in the gym; making lists and different routines, making sure everything coincided with what I was looking to do as far as my fitness related goals. It provided me the foundation to really take off with my body building and pretty much my overall fitness.”
“My parents are both retired military, so physical fitness has always been a big part of my life,” he said, but Anderson explained that although he has always been naturally lean, until he started working out in 2004, he had never carried much weight on his relatively small frame.
All that changed in 2007, when another athlete approached him in the gym and asked if he had ever considered entering the highly competitive world of body building. He accepted that challenge, and in July 2007, Anderson won the novice overall class in his first competition.
“That’s pretty much when it took off for me,” he said. “I’ve been competing ever since.”
He now approaches every challenge with the knowledge that he is capable of pushing himself well past his perceived mental and physical limits, an attitude that has served him well in the six years he’s grown from a novice into a newly-anointed professional.
“As far as going from novice to professional level, it really took a lot of hard work. There would be days when I would be overly sore in muscles I didn’t even know I had. But from my understanding, that was just one of the things I was going to have to learn to deal with and then continue to build on top of that,” he said. “The idea was to always try to get better in any way possible.”
Hard work, however, is not without its downfalls. After a disappointing performance in 2009, Anderson resigned himself to push his body – and his mind – further than he ever had before.
“In 2009, I competed at the NPC Nationals as well, but sadly I didn’t place very well,” he said. “It took me four years to build my body up to the point where I could do the same show here last year in 2013 and actually win my class to give me my IFBB [International Federation of Body Builders] Professional status. That just kind of gives you an idea of what kind of time it takes to take yourself from not winning or placing at all to actually winning your class and gaining that top honor.”
FLEX magazine called Anderson the biggest surprise of the contest, citing his crisp conditioning and distinctive muscle tone as the basis for his win.
“It was a big surprise,” he said, “especially considering the history of the competition I had done. For someone to come from placing dead last in the competition and then coming back years later and just completely destroying the competition, that says a lot about what you did as far as preparing yourself within those four years.”
Anderson said photos from the contests in between offer a clear illustration of his fierce determination to return to the same stage and finally claim his victory.
“If you would ever see the pictures that were placed from that first competition all the way up to the one I recently won, you can definitely see my work ethic – in every way imaginable,” he said.
Anderson said that being featured in FLEX Magazine was an achievement in and of itself.
“The effect it had on me was just happiness… just incredibly overjoyed,” he said with a smile. “Even though I had been featured times before in other magazines, just to see the changes and the hardships I had to overcome to build myself up to that point physically; to see those achievements, it really made me feel proud to actually be in that sport. Seeing that in the magazine just confirmed even more for me that I really have a future in the sport of bodybuilding.”
Anderson’s next challenge? His first IFBB competition, which will pit him against some of the world’s best athletes. Until then, he plans to spend the rest of the year preparing to enter his first professional competition sporting his best possible physique.
“What I plan to do as far as taking it to the next level is to sit down and evaluate what I need to do as far as any specific areas that I need to improve upon. In the IFBB ranks, you’re going to have a lot of other guys that are going to be in better shape just because of the fact that they have more time in and they have more experience,” Anderson emphasized. “One thing that I wanted to do is sit down to evaluate, study, and do my homework on what I need to do to fix my weaknesses so I can make those my strengths and I can be a better opponent when I do step onstage with these other competitors.”
After all, he said – success in bodybuilding, just like any tactical endeavor, is all about the preparation.
This work, Tennessee National Guard Soldier wins National Physique Committee National Middleweight Championship, by SSG Melissa Wood, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.