Usually the process takes about 25 years for an amateur body builder to become a professional.
For Anthony LaVigne, a sophomore at Rowan University, that number doesn’t matter.
That’s because LaVigne, 19, has already become a professional bodybuilder.
The South Amboy, New Jersey, native turned pro with The World National Bodybuilding Federation, a clean organization. That means no steroids or human growth hormones.
“It feels good to be part of the WNBF, which is a good drug-tested organization,” LaVigne said. “It feels outstanding.”
LaVigne had been preparing 14 weeks for the competition that would allow him to go pro. However, that prep pales in comparison to the six years that he had been in the gym doing intense workouts, work that would get himself into the right condition to being able to compete with people that are 30 to 40 years old.
“Not once did I feel like giving up,” LaVigne said.
LaVigne’s always admired a well-built human being. Cartoons like Popeye and Superman influenced him to start weight lifting when he was 13 years old. Having a few relatives that were already in the body building circuit also made him want to get in the gym and become a star.
“There were times where things got challenging and those were times I felt I was being tested,” LaVigne said. “That didn’t mean I should give up. The harder you work for something the more likely the reward is going to be great.”
He said that he fell in love with the pump that the workouts gave him and how they made him feel like he was progressing every day.
“I got addicted to the lifestyle and I kept taking it to the next level,” LaVigne said. “I just constantly progressed from high school to now and that’s how I got here.”
The sophomore had some support along the way.
Briana Hayden — a friend of LaVigne’s — knew that he wasn’t going to be able to walk on stage and just compete, so she was there with him through the whole process, picking up food he needed or finding places that he could go tanning.
Growing up faster than a normal 19-year-old teenager was also necessary. He had to hold himself to a higher standard than a normal teenager would.
“Even though I had to mature fast, I definitely still try to live in the moment and live in my youth as well,” LaVigne said. “It’s like working a full time job when you’re in a body building competition.”
“When you have a passion for something it makes it a little bit easier to succeed in it,” said Hayden. “He has a very strong passion for it. He has a very intense personality so that makes him even stronger. His parents are very supportive and that always helps. His support system is very good all-around and I think that’s the way he’s been succeeding.”
Those around LaVigne think that he has just hit the tip of the iceberg when it comes to turning pro. They feel he has even better things ahead of him, and could follow in the path of Kai Greene, the No. 2 ranked bodybuilder in the world. Greene also went pro at 19.
“He’s very motivated. I can see him on stage at the Olympias,” said Hayden. “When you’re Mr. Olympia you’re it, so that’s where I can see him being in the future.”
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