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NW Fitness Magazine
Driven to the Arnold
An interview with NPC Champion, Michael Spencer
In 1998 while playing in a basketball tournament, 18 year old Michael Spencer broke both ankles virtually ending any hopes of a basketball career. Having always been physically active, Michael searched for another sport and found himself at the gym where he began “seriously lifting.” It took almost ten years before he set foot on a stage. His first show came in 2009 at Fort Lewis, where he won his light heavyweight class. The same held true for his second show, and for his third. Roughly two years and FOUR Overall Titles later, Michael is preparing for the biggest stage he’s ever been on- The Arnold Classic. We sat down with him to talk about what has driven him to the Arnold….
Name: Michael Spencer
Occupation: Training for the Arnold
Marital status: Married
Birth date: December 3, 1980
Competition Weight: 198lbs
Off Season Weight: 230-245lbs
Favorite Cheat Meal: #4 McDonald’s value meal- 2 cheeseburgers, large fry, large coke, and 6 chocolate chip cookies…..and a large dominos pizza
NW: What does arriving at the Arnold Classic signify to you?
Michael: Basically, I see it as my next step towards eventually getting my pro card. I’ve started my next level in my competitive career.
NW: What have you sacrificed for your dream to compete at the Arnold?
Michael: I can’t really call anything a sacrifice, like it’s a negative. I quit my job to be a stay at home Dad and focus on my training. I go to the gym twice a day. I spend hours away from my family. It’s really been a family effort.
NW: How has your family influenced who you are today?
Michael: My parents instilled in me how to be a hard worker and to be the best at whatever I end up doing. Whatever it is, give it 100% so there’s no regrets. My wife Gabrielle, I really wouldn’t be where I am today without her. She supports me and she’s helped me become a better bodybuilder. She teaches me how to manage my time and to be patient. I think I plan things a lot better because of her.
NW: Who are your mentors?
Michael: As far as bodybuilding goes, Stan Efferding has been a big influence on me. Aaron Baker especially has had a huge motivating influence in my life with his phone calls and just keeping me on track. Anthony Aponte has been the most monumental in prepping me and making sure I have everything I need to succeed. But personally, really, Brian Perry has been there for me more than anyone. He’s had my back and been with me since the very beginning.
NW: What has been the most frustrating, and the most rewarding part of your preparation?
Michael: The most frustrating for me is that I go to the gym and I’m the only one there who’s working to achieve a goal like this. I don’t have any peers to train with on a daily basis that are doing the same thing I’m doing. It gets kinda lonely sometimes. The most rewarding part? My body is the best it’s ever been. It’s doing exactly what it needs to. I’m lucky that my wife has allowed me to do whatever it is that I need to do. This journey- it’s a huge step. But not just for me, for my family as well. This is for us.
NW: What are you expecting when you arrive at the Arnold?
Michael: I’m expecting to be surrounded by and competing with the best guys in the world. I get to see some of the pros that I’ve looked up to for so long.
NW: As you have prepared, what have you learned about yourself that you didn’t know before?
Michael: Well, each time I prepare, but especially for this one- I’ve had to realize that I am good enough to compete at this level. I’ve questioned myself in the past and I’m learning to give myself credit for my accomplishments. I’ve pushed myself harder mentally, emotionally, and for sure physically than I ever have. When for so long I’ve doubted if I could do it, I know now that I’m a lot tougher than I think I am.
NW: What do you want your children to learn from you?
Michael: Well, I don’t want them to learn how to swear like me! I guess just like my parents taught me, if you’re going to do something, whatever it is, it don’t matter- if you truly love it, then don’t allow anyone to tell you that you can’t do it. If you believe inside that you can, then give it your all no matter what.
NW: If there is a young man reading this who is new to bodybuilding, what would your greatest advice be?
Michael: That bodybuilding isn’t something that just happens overnight. You’ve got to really put in the work, you can’t just talk, you gotta walk the walk, every single day. It’s a lifestyle. Every day you eat, sleep, breathe, and poop bodybuilding and nutrition. You just can’t cut corners. You got to be in it 100%. Also, you’re your own person and everybody’s body is different, so don’t try to be like anyone else.
NW: What do you want readers to take away from this interview about you?
Michael: I want them to know that first and foremost I’m just a huge fan of bodybuilding. I’m still young enough in the sport that I have room for improvement and growth. I’m really thankful for what the sport has given me. I love all avenues of fitness. It’s something that I’m really passionate about. I’m just really very grateful to be where I’m at.