MATHEW PARK SHIFTS CANADA INTO OVERDRIVE
Interview Ben Yosef
Mathew Park is a great example of foresight, drive, sacrifice, and determination. He is living proof that if you have the passion, and set yourself on an unwavering path to achieve a goal, even one that is quite lofty, you will have a damn good shot at success.
What is also noteworthy and impressive is the fact that Mathew Park also walks the walk. He has built himself up from a novice dreamer to a WNBF Pro Card winning contender.
Mr. Park has managed to build an entire organization from scratch, and shift Canadian natural bodybuilding from virtual obscurity to the forefront of the drug-free movement. All this being said, INBF Canada’s President is just getting started.
BY: As president of INBF Canada, what exactly are your responsi-bilities within the organization?
MP: I am the Founder and President of INBF Canada, which is an affiliate of the INBF. I also work with the WNBF, hosting our pro show. We are growing so much in Canada right now, with three INBF amateur shows, a WNBF pro show, and adding another two shows next year.
BY: How long have you been involved with the WNBF/INBF?
“I started INBF Canada when I was twenty-one years old and still in college…”
MP: I starting INBF Canada when I was twenty-one years old and still in college. I proceeded to fulfill the life long passion and dream that I had when I was a kid, by getting the first show in place. Then, we grew and our team came together.
My partner now is Rozanne Pyper, along with other key executives that contribute to our growth in huge ways. I believe that titles are simply meaningless, as I embody a philosophy of equality amongst all members. Even though we have our roles, we still all pull together when we need to produce the ultimate grand result, support our athletes and sponsors, and promote a level playing field as the leaders in the drug-free sport.
BY: I imagine that you faced various challenges during those early days as you took on the task of creating such a venture. Other than being at an age when most are out partying, and the ever-looming endless school work and exams, synonymous with collegiate life, what were some of the hurdles that you had to overcome?
MP: Yes sir, there were many challenges along the way. In the early days, the biggest hurdle was finding the finances to run a show. Another one was, worrying about who was going to compete in a show where the guy running it was only twenty-two-years old, wasn’t a pro, had only done two shows prior, all pretty much getting last place, and was really a nobody in the industry.
I was just finishing up my last few months of college at NAIT for my two-year diploma in personal fitness training.
I wanted to reach certain goals. I actually reviewed the goals that I wrote down back when I was fifteen-years-old, and one of them was to own and run a drug-free bodybuilding federation across Canada, and be a professional bodybuilder.
Then, one day, laying on my bed, I felt this immediate energy to start to make headway into starting a 100% drug-free federation.
I clearly remember that day, as I jumped out of bed, went to my computer and started researching. The first thing I did was contact the head office of the INBF and WNBF because I knew that they were the global leaders in 100% drug-free bodybuilding and fitness.
At the time, I spoke with Steve Downs, who pointed me in the direction of what I needed to do to start the process. He instructed me to find a polygrapher and venue, which I did the same day! [laughs].
BY: I love it. Your ambition is inspiring, especially for someone who took all of this on at such a young age. It’s awesome that you had the insight to pursue the natural, drug-free way. What came next?
“I didn’t even have enough money to pay rent or buy groceries at that time!”
MP: The next biggest challenge was how to create a website. Where do I start? I didn’t even have enough money to pay rent or buy groceries at that time! But I thought of creative solutions.
For example, I had two personal training clients who shared my vision. They both gave me a one-year advance to train them twice a week, to use as funds to help finance the first show, which was a year-and-a-half away. Next, I trained an amazing guy who did websites. I trained him for free to help me build the website.
I wasn’t the guy that had a solid backing, large financial support, or business already going. It was a survival of the fittest for me in the beginning. Over that year, I started to surround myself with like-minded people, who teamed up with me to help make this vision a reality. What most people didn’t realize was that for three years we lost money on each show. I somehow found a way to scrap up the money to keep going. Then, in our fourth year, we finally broke out.
BY: Well, kudos on your unwavering persistence and con-gratulations on achieving your goal. What is the philosophy of your organization?
“I do not want, nor need to be on a poster. It’s all about the athletes and our team.”
MP: Thanks, Ben! I really appreciate it. I have always kept a strong faith and background with God, which has always propelled me through some rough edges. For me, the whole reason of starting INBF Canada has nothing to do with me. It had everything to do with having an ethical, non-political, truly drug-free federation, which served the sport in a healthy and just way.
I have told myself I do not want, nor need, to be on a poster. It’s all about the athletes and our team. It’s about changing lives. It’s about providing a portal for drug-free, ethical athletes to succeed, and providing a movement that is different from what anybody else is doing. Some companies only focus on the numbers, and how big they are, whereas we come from quality and ethics. I will not comprise our integrity for more athletes in our show, just so we look good. We are growing. We may not have 200 athletes per show on a stage yet, but soon we will, and we will keep our image in direct correlation to our vision, mission, and values.
BY: Let’s talk about you own adventures on the stage. When was your first show and how many contests have you competed in?
MP: My first competition was when I was sixteen-years-old in Lethbridge, Alberta. I placed ninth out of ten competitors. It was an eye-opening experience for me as all the competitors weighed more than me, by quite a bit.
I came in at 5’7” and 138 pounds. I had used a traditional pre-contest dieting program, focused around no carbs, and eating just protein and vegetables. I looked very small, stringy, and depleted on stage. Basically, I was starving myself. Even though I had a coach help me with this, it was the traditional old-school method of eating nothing to get lean.
My second show was when I was eighteen-years-old. I thought this show was 100% natural, but going to the show, realizing nobody was tested, it was quite disappointing.
I was able to get third place in my category. My bodyweight was 151 pounds, but yet again, I used a similar low carb contest prep phase that didn’t work. Once again, the result was me looking depleted and flat.
I then took a few years off and moved to the United States for nine months right after high school. When I came back to Canada, I immediately enrolled into college at NAIT in Edmonton. During my time in college I focused on goals of strength and size, and broke some personal records on my squat and deadlift. At twenty-two years of age, I squatted 600 lbs for five reps and deadifted, from the ground, 550 lbs for five reps under the guidance of my trainer, Lorraine Glass. My body weight at that time was 180 pounds.
I went back to hitting the stage, but this time was with the INBF, as I knew that was the only truly fully drug tested federation in the world. It was my third show and I decided to use a world class contest prep coach by the name of Dr. Joe. We started my prep eight months before my planned show, which was the Iron Eagle Classic in Savannah, Georgia.
It was the best decision I ever made, as I had a much more balanced eating regime, but I came in looking the leanest in my life while still looking full and hard, and not starving myself. My body weight for the show was 167 pounds. That show was the making of one of my dreams coming true, as I won my class and the overall which resulted in obtaining my WNBF Pro Card.
I turned twenty-five a few months after, but wanted to compete as a WNBF Pro and get my feet wet, while I was still in contest shape. I decided on competing in the WNBF US Cup in New York, which was my first pro show and placed 8th. My second pro show was the WNBF Worlds shortly after, and I placed 7th in my class. With three shows in nine months, it was time
to take some time off and grow to come back and hit the stage. I will be hitting the WNBF Pro stage in 2014, which I am very excited about.
BY: You are doing some really exciting things with the performance recovery drink, RE7. How did this venture come about? And what can we expect from consuming this beverage?
MP: RE7 started over fifteen years ago, back on our farm in Acadia Valley, Alberta. My business partner, Michael Stolz, had been using a specific combination of vitamins and minerals to help with his recovery, naturally.
The system originally was in pill form, to help balance the body’s acid state, and bring it to a more neutral pH, therefore helping with recovery. Michael then experimented with the program, with my drug-free strength and bodybuilding training in my teens, which was a great assistance, as it resulted in my significant strength gains. Our dream was always to help improve the health of people the natural way. So, Michael then started to mix the vitamins and minerals in combinations, to see what it would taste like in beverage form. Not so good! We then linked up with a beverage specialist in Virginia who helped us with the beginnings of RE7.
We started selling in the beginning of 2012 with one flavor. We soon improved it when we made it 100% all-natural by removing the food coloring and artificial flavor.
Now our product is available in three unique flavors; RE7 Blue, RE7 Green, RE7 Red. RE7 is 100% natural, made with Stevia, gluten free, caffeine free and low in calories, with only twenty calories per serving. Our focus right now is in Alberta and Quebec, then expanding our distribution as we grow our business model.
BY: Matthew, you have so many big things under way. You have really shifted the Canadian Natural Body-building, Health and Fitness scene into overdrive!
MP: Thanks a lot, Ben. I am trying my best, but it all comes down to surrounding yourself with the right people who support the movement of change around the vision. The people around me are the big reasons for the successes.
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