Retired professional bodybuilder Mark Perry has been used to working out at least five days a week since he was 15, but a torn bicep has forced the 47-year-old Jennings County native to restrain from lifting full force for what will end up being one of his longest hiatus for him thus far.
Perry already had been away from his regular workout routine for three months when he tore his bicep at a construction site. He was attempting to lift a 30-foot pile when he heard his bicep tear in his right arm. He ended up having surgery in mid-April that is expected to keep him from lifting at 100 percent until September or October.
“That was already agony enough by not working out very much for three months,” Perry said. “And then to add this on top of it, we’re looking at maybe five or six months.”
Perry’s first introduction to lifting weights was during his football days at Jennings County High School. His competitive nature continued to grow long after his football days were over, and he continued lifting. He participated in his first bodybuilding show in Ohio at age 22 after his peers encouraged him to participate.
Perry placed third in the middleweight division and was a national qualifier in a show were he said he had no idea what he was doing. A few phone calls by Lou Zwick of the American Sports Network changed that. Zwick’s phone call came a couple of months after Perry’s first show, but Perry’s skepticism about the legitimacy of the call caused him to not respond to Zwick’s voicemails.
“He left me several messages at my house,” Perry said. “I always thought it was my friends pranking me, telling me they thought I had the genetics to be a professional bodybuilder and all that stuff. I just kept hitting delete, fast forward.”
Perry eventually picked up one of Zwick’s phone calls, and to his disbelief, the interest was real. Zwick advised him to take off a year of bodybuilding to get more knowledgeable about the desired nutrition. Perry also learned the proper ways a bodybuilder should train during that year. He got more educated on how to to effectively train each body part and how much rest they should have. The most important aspect, though, was the nutrition.
Perry said proper nutrition is 90 percent of the difference of being a successful bodybuilder.
“Before, I wasn’t concerned about getting in grains of protein, what types of carbohydrates to consume and when to consume them,” he said. “It was just an entire learning process for me.”
Perry took what he learned and in 1995, competed in the same show from two years prior. This time, he won the light heavyweight division and the overall first place in the open. That sparked his journey to earning his professional card. He won a few more shows after that, including Mr. Indiana before going into the national level.
By 2007, Perry had been in a number of bodybuilding magazines and expanded his brand through involvements with different supplemental companies while competing on the national level. Perry’s entire goal as a bodybuilder was to earn his pro card.
Pro cards were not handed out as frequently back then as they are today, but Perry won the IFBA North American in 2007 and that earned him what he was looking for. He reached his milestone and retired after 14 years.
“Once I accomplished my goal, I was getting pulled in other directions,” Perry said. “That’s why I didn’t continue on. I could have went on and competed in the 212 (pound)-and-under class at the pro level, but there was no reason to.”
Perry had other projects in which to tend, like running his own gym. He was traveling back and forth to Indianapolis and Louisville to train when he first started.
In 1998, Perry decided that he wanted to open his own gym instead of traveling miles away to train. He bought his first building on Rocky Ford Road before moving into the building that is now Goodwill in 2002 and stayed there until 2007. Since 2008, he has been at the Total Fitness of Columbus on Middle Road.
Perry’s bodybuilding days are over, and his lifts aren’t as heavy as they once were, but his daily routine is pretty similar. He still gets in 20 minutes of cardio every morning and continues to train at least five days a week. He splits his body parts when lifting the same way he did as a bodybuilder. The major difference in his lifestyle now is that it’s not as big of a deal if he has to miss a day because he can just make it up, he said.
Bodybuilding has allowed Perry to create positive workout habits that he is looking forward to continuing once his bicep is fully healed. He believes that everyone should have a some type of physical fitness regimen for a healthier lifestyle.
“Whether it be working out, walking (or) running, you take your two things and combine them,” Perry said. “Your diet, your aerobic workout and at least light weight training — put those three in a combination, and everyone is going to stay healthier. Everyone is going to stay more fit, and it leads to a better lifestyle.”
[sc:pullout-title pullout-title=”Mark Perry” ][sc:pullout-text-begin]
Name: Mark Perry
High school: Jennings County
Colleges: IUPUC, Franklin
Occupation: Owner of Total Fitness of Columbus