When it all boils down bodybuilding is about one thing, growth. From the very first time we fall in love with our iron mistress we begin to focus all of our energies on the unyielding, uncompromising, ruthless pursuit of achieving growth at all costs. But for some of us bodybuilding isn’t just about growth in the physical sense, it’s about mental, spiritual, and emotional growth as well. It’s about coming into the sport in search of who we are, and finally leaving as ourselves. For 2013 NPC Mr. Las Vegas overall champion Jamal Musbah bodybuilding has been just that – a journey to physical, spiritual, and emotional growth that has taken to places he could’ve only imagined just a few years prior. I recently had a chance to talk with Jamal about his path to the stage and you can catch it all right here, in this IronAffinity exclusive interview.
Q.) Although bodybuilding is such a unique sport, there are some common threads we see woven throughout its fabric. One of the most common themes we see is that a number of athletes are forced to overcome tremendous obstacles early on in life. Tell us about some of the adversity you faced early on.
A.) Early in life I think the detail of what I experienced was different and unique, just like everyone’s experiences. I know that in all times of hardships we have a rough time mentally overcoming the obstacles, as a young person its tuff to really understand what’s really going on and how you really feel. I would say a rough domestic situation was, what I had a rough time adapting to. I think we don’t realize what kind of hurdles you actually had to go throw until you grow older. I felt that I did a great job at ignoring certain pain after a while. But I, like many of us developed a set of masking skills. Skills that would mask the true feelings I had kept hidden from myself. I became a very low version of myself, and was not heading in a positive direction. To answer the question directly without giving TMI I experienced some emotionally damaging things during the period of adolescence, and at times still struggle to this day. Struggle is a part of us; this is why we have the emotional and intellectual ability to overcome any obstacles. FACT
Q.) Do you feel that developing that emotional and mental strength early on helped prepare you for the demands of bodybuilding?
A.) Yes, I agree 100%. I wasn’t always the most confident kid growing up, and was always scared of failure so I would never put my effort into one thing. I always knew I wanted to do something big. Something that I felt that no one would believe I could do. I didn’t know why I felt that way then, but I now know it was to prove to myself that I could be great, that I was much greater than I have been made out to be. I didn’t know about the sport of bodybuilding before I wanted to be a bodybuilder. After I went to a bodybuilding show for the first time in 2009 in NYC at 20 years old I knew then and there, that is what I wanted to do more than anything. I had a lot built up from my past, a lot to prove, and a lot to explore and understand. When you use what’s built up you create flames like passion, desire, and a willingness to do ANYTHING it takes to get what you want. A lot of people think bodybuilding competitively is too much or crazy. For me, It has given me so much that I didn’t have growing up and for that I know what I need to put into it is easy, I’ve adopted the lifestyle completely.
Q.) You grew up in Wisconsin which isn’t typically known as a hotbed of bodybuilding culture. How much exposure did you have to the sport people to beginning competing?
A.) I lived in in North Africa from 2-5 years old than moved back to Wisconsin than moved to Arizona when I was in 3rd grade. When I was in New York in 09 doing work in the fitness modeling circuit is when I discovered the amazing sport of bodybuilding. Shortly after I moved back to AZ and since then I think right now in this particular sport true exposure comes with time, knowing the right people, and in my opinion placing well in your competitions. I never did this thinking I would be well known or for fan fair I’m doing this because it’s the best way for me right now to do what I love and support other people by setting a positive example of possibilities!. I think the sport is still in its early years as far as growing industries are concerned and exposure for athletes will improve.
Q.) When you first began training did gains come relatively easy? Or did progress take some time?
A.) I think developing my physique the first few years was relatively easy. I think for me is I always had a favorable shape & structure so thinks were put together well after I started adding some muscle. Once I started packing on real muscle and competing against true athletes I realized the gains made need to be earned one day at a time, one meal at a time. Definitely not easy but luckily from my perspective I enjoy doing all the work necessary to attain sufficient gains.
Q.) Do you feel like bodybuilding provided you an outlet to release some of the energy and emotions that you’d been harboring for so many years?
A.) Yes, like I may have previously answered it has. Bodybuilding or any activity that takes such a demand of your emotional and physical energy for a Sustained periods of time will force you to dig deep were it has hurt to find the emotions that will drive you threw until your goal is completed.
Q.) Tell us how you made the decision to begin competing.
A.) After the first show I’ve ever witnessed I realized I had to be a part of it ASAP. If you’ve read earlier questions you will now I’m a passionate guy, and to add already had an interest in giving my all to something, and even better it involved fitness. I was hooked.
Q.) Despite your relatively short competitive history you’ve been very successful onstage. In your opinion, what’s your biggest weakness as a competitor?
A.) I think after my recent injury and long delay out of training I reflected a lot on my life as an outsider looking in. I do have some physical flaws to the physique which I can point out at the drop of a hat, but my true weaknesses that I have been correcting on a daily basis, is patience, balance, and confidence. Those are the three things I know could hold me back if I didn’t continue to work on those things. I
Q) When can fans expect to see you onstage again next?
A.) I have no show in mind yet, I’m still out on injury at the moment and will need time to put size back on but the next time you see me on stage it will be right here in Arizona. I did my first two shows here but haven’t since 2012. I’m at a point to where I want another state title, but mostly I really want all the people at my gym that support me and all the people that know me around the industry to see me perform on stage. I will presume late 2014 early 2015,
Q.) Is there anyone you’d like to thank for helping you achieve the success you’ve had thus far in your career?
A.) I am thankful for everything that keeps me doing what I do. All the support I get from anyone and everyone. My girlfriend Melissa Guzman, my coach David Hill, my family, Collin Armorer, my sponsor More Human Than Human (www.b-mhth.com) and Iron Affinity for supporting me as well. Everyone plays a role and giving me exactly what I need to become the best version of myself.
Q.) If someone had training inquiries or would like to book you for appearances what’s the best way for them to get in contact with you? If you want to contact me for anything send me an email with your message and ill get back to you.
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