The Bodybuilder: Interview with Champion Reza Poursaleh

“I’m stepping on the stage fearless, egoless, and with lots of love.”  – Reza Poursaleh

BETH: Reza, thank you for agreeing to a second interview for Lift Heavy, Make it Beautiful. You are the first male bodybuilder to be interviewed for this blog and, at age 22, you are the youngest athlete interviewed. I wanted to speak to you again, in greater depth than before, because of your wide ranging experience as both a champion bodybuilder and champion CrossFit athlete, two forms of training that are often thought of as mutually exclusive. I also think that you have a beauty and a charisma that are exceptional and which seem to be grounded in true feeling, true passion, generosity, kindness, and honesty.

First of all, Reza, congratulations on your most recent bodybuilding win at the Ontario Physique Association  (OPA) competition in London, Ontario last weekend, Saturday November 24, 2012. You placed 2nd in bodybuilding which qualifies you to compete at the Toronto Pro SuperShow scheduled for May 31, June 1 & 2, 2013. The Toronto Pro SuperShow is a big event which includes competitions in bodybuilding, powerlifting, and CrossFit. In June 2012, you helped lead your team to a first place win in CrossFit and in June 2013 you will be competing as a bodybuilder. Has anyone ever done that before, competed in CrossFit and then in bodybuilding in two back to back years?

REZA: I don’t think so. Not that I know of.

BETH: You had an unexpected setback during the pre-judging on the day of your bodybuilding competition in London last weekend. What happened?

REZA: During my carb-up, I took a product that restored glycogen really fast and my body went through a shock and I noticed when I was posing on stage that I was sweating a lot and I was already very dehydrated. So I carbed up a lot, and there was a lot of sugar going into my muscles and, at the same time, I was really dehydrated and the room started spinning from the beginning when I went on stage. When the comparison was done, first call out, I went through that, second call out, I went through that too, and then they put me in the back, but at that point I couldn’t really stand up anymore and I felt like, if I keep standing up, I’m going to pass out. So I just went down on the ground to catch my breath again and they took me backstage and after being backstage for about 10 seconds, they told me, “If you don’t go back in, you’re going to be disqualified.” At that point, I just got up and somebody hit me and I went back on stage again. But I think I did lose some points, I’m not one hundred percent sure, but when I went backstage my comparison was already done. But anyways, I filled out by the night show a lot. I drank a little bit of coconut water to feel better. I went to the Keg and had a burger and fries. I loaded up on everything. I watched how much water I drank and I went so full at night time. I looked 10 pounds bigger. I might have lost a little bit of definition, not too much, but I surprised the judges at the night show. But unfortunately, in the bodybuilding industry, everybody knows the judging is done after the morning show. The night show doesn’t count anymore. I really surprised the judges by how I looked at nighttime. I filled out a lot, I looked bigger than everybody else at night, and my routine was good. But having that second place actually felt right. I’m so motivated to train even harder because of that second place.

BETH: Given what happened at the pre-judging in the morning, you managed an incredible comeback by posing time which was at midnight. Here are only a few comments from friends and fans about your posing routine:

  • “You had the whole audience freaking out with your memorable routine that will go down in history.”
  • “Absolutely amazed by your posing routine which was best in the show.”
  • “Love love love your routine, it was incredible!!!! You looked fantastic!!” 
  • “Your posing and routine showed grace and skill. Outstanding job last night!”
  • “His routine was in a class of its own!!!”
  • “That routine was outstanding and it brought back the whole idea of what routines should be – showcase your body as art and strength. Wow…a little Kai Greene influence.” 
  • “Both he and his sister, Mona, have the best routines the OPA has seen. By far!!!!!!!!!!!”

BETH: May I add that your posing routine nearly brought me to tears. I watched the video of it several times in a row just to be certain I was seeing what I was seeing. The intensity, the beauty, the emotion, the physical skill of the routine, and the speed with which you executed the moves – I have not seen that mix before in bodybuilding. You took a big risk, did you not, by performing that demanding routine, given how you felt that same morning? 

REZA: Yes.

BETH: But you wanted to do it.

REZA: I did. I felt a great energy. And I just went with the flow. When I do my posing, my idea to do it the best way is to stay in the present moment as much as possible and be present and give your energy to the judges. It’s a lot of mind work when you go on stage, in my opinion, to stay in the present moment and focus on you, and not to think about the audience.

Reza 2012 OPA Win Photo by Andre Avigdor.jpg
Reza 2012 OPA Win Photo by Andre Avigdor

BETH: Who choreographed your routine?

REZA: I did. I just go in my basement and make it up myself.

BETH: Is there a bodybuilder who is your role model or who influences you the most?

REZA: Yes. Kai Greene. Because of his mentality of life and spirituality, his way of seeing life. He makes bodybuilding a lot bigger. He’s really my true role model.

BETH: People love him. He’s a generous soul, isn’t he? A generous person. 

REZA: Absolutely.

BETH: What is your goal when planning your routine?

REZA: The goal when I’m planning my routine is to be different, to entertain the crowd, and to be powerful.

BETH: You have referred to bodybuilding as “the sport of art, passion, and love”. What do you mean by that?

REZA: In my opinion, bodybuilding really lost what it really was about. It was supposed to be about art, passion, and achievement. Now, unfortunately, bodybuilding runs on the supplement industry and the supplement industry is pretty much brainwashing all the kids, making them think it’s how bodybuilders get that way. It’s a lot more about money and making profit and it lost the art and beauty of it. It’s a lot about politics now. I think bodybuilding is a beautiful sport. I’m trying to bring the message back that bodybuilding is supposed to be something beautiful and it’s a true art form. It’s not supposed to be about politics, money, sponsorship. You know what I mean, right?

BETH: Yes I do. As you know, I have an artistic background and I recognized the intense artistry in the work of your whole family instantly and that is why I wanted to give you a voice. It’s not just true of bodybuilding, it’s true of a lot of things nowadays where money seems to be the driving force behind things instead of the more human reasons why we do what we do.

REZA: Exactly. I am going to try my best to bring a message out to people. I think I have something in me and I can achieve that in the future. And if I have that mentality, I know life is going to guide me through, to help me bring that message to other people.

BETH: You started competing as a bodybuilder at 17 years of age and you are now 22. How many bodybuilding trophies do you have so far?

REZA: I have to go in my room and count, but I think I have maybe 15 now or something like that. I competed in fitness shows too and I would compete in two categories in the same show.

Reza's trophies
Reza Poursaleh’s Trophies

BETH: You did fitness competitions as well. That shows in your bodybuilding. You bring those fitness skills to your bodybuilding routines. As well as your CrossFit endurance. 

REZA: Exactly. A little bit of gymnastics, a little bit of break dancing.

BETH: When was your last show?

REZA: In 2009.

BETH: So you had three years between bodybuilding competitions? 

REZA: Ya, I had a really bad neck injury and my motivation just went really down.

BETH: Injuries will do that to you. They set you back badly.

REZA: Another reason was a breakup I went through that really threw me off emotionally in 2009. I didn’t have the same mental strength. That was probably the main reason. The neck injury happened. And I lost my job at Popeyes which is a supplement store.

BETH: Where do you work now?

REZA: I work at Pur Nutrition which is another supplement store. I’m motivated again. My life is back on track, exactly as it was. What happened was, I lost my job at Popeyes, but I got a job at a butcher shop which is where I learned about spices, how to cook, all the kitchen work.

Reza at 19
Reza at 19 years
From the film “Working it Out”

BETH: Why bodybuilding, Reza? Why put yourself through this much work, this much discipline, this much deprivation for one day up on stage?

REZA: Because, to create that, it’s something beautiful. And to feel the achievement that day, you fight for that feeling. And that feeling, that feeling you get that one day, makes you a bigger person – if you go through the path right. I was really spiritual in my own path and it just made me a bigger person. Another reason I put myself through that sacrifice is to be a voice for the truth. That’s what bodybuilding is all about.  

BETH: Six weeks out from competition, you were getting yourself even more organized than you normally are. “Every workout, every meal, every sleep counts now,” you said. There is an almost scientific precision to preparing for a  bodybuilding competition. Is it true that you leave nothing to chance?

REZA: Yes, it’s very true because you have to understand how your body works every minute of every hour of the day. If my friend tells me to hang out, there is no way I’m going to go because that makes my routine change. The routine is always the same, the calculation is always the same. So, when that last week comes, you’ll know exactly what it will take to bring that illusion to the stage.

BETH: You can’t cheat at all? 

REZA: You can cheat if you’re getting too lean too fast or if you’re lean enough and you’re feeling really bad and a clean cheat meal is worth it to you. It all depends. I did cheat, but it was very clean. Now, by “cheating” I’m talking about maybe one more cup of rice and a little bit more protein. Just a really clean cheat to give you that boost of energy. Yes, clean cheating is beneficial when you’re really depleted and you really can use the food as energy source, if you’re lean enough. I was lean enough and I did cheat two or three times, usually before my leg days, so I had the energy to push through my legs, so I had the strength. That’s why I improved so much on my legs.

BETH: People were commenting about your legs, how good they look. 

REZA: They did improve a lot. One of the reasons is because I trained with my sister, Mona. She really has good legs and she really knows how to work them. She really helped me get through the leg training days. She was my main supporter when it comes to the legs.

BETH: Did the judges tell you any area that you need to work on? 

REZA: No, the judges didn’t tell me anything, but my biggest problem is my calves. I need to work a lot on my calves and I know that myself. And I’m going to be working them like crazy for the SuperShow.

BETH: What was your training like in the four months leading up to competition?

REZA: I tried to go to the gym twice a day. One session is going to be just cardio, with a four to six hour space between that and body training. One time I go to the gym and I do my body training and I do my cardio, depleted, right after. But, right after my training, I don’t have a whey protein isolate or a protein powder, I have actual organic whole foods and that’s how I see my good results. And that window that you go through, you actually have your food an hour later, you actually are hungry again so I use that window, not with shakes, but with food.

BETH: Now let me get this straight. You workout twice a day. You do cardio after your weights during one of those workouts.

REZA: Yes, depleted, empty stomach. And I have my food immediately right after, in the change room.

BETH: In the change room, you’re eating food, not drinking a shake. When is your other workout? 

REZA: It’s a morning cardio.

BETH: Do you still go to CrossFit in the morning? 


BETH: Why not? 

REZA: I stopped doing CrossFit because I found it to be hard on my joints when my body fat is so low and also because I didn’t have the same energy as I used to have when I was on a higher calorie diet. CrossFit takes too much energy from you.

BETH: What was your contest weight? 

REZA: I weighed in at 178 lbs Friday night.

BETH: And your height?

REZA: 5’7″.

BETH: So what do you do in the morning for cardio?

REZA: I usually go out in nature because it’s uplifting, it’s better air.

BETH: Running? 

REZA: Just fast-paced walking on hills beside my house.

BETH: So you do cardio twice a day. With your weights, what is your set/rep scheme?

REZA: It’s always different. I do something called pyramid training which is when you hit every muscle twitch. So you’ll do something light, you’ll do it 12 – 15 times, then add weight and do 10 reps, then more weight and do eight reps. Pyramid training is mainly for things like leg press, deadlift, squat – the lifts that really make you grow. When I started my leg training I always did leg press, and I did pyramid training and supersets. I try to keep my heart rate up through my whole workout. I’ll do 15 reps even. I just kill it. And I’ll do only three exercises, not five, six, seven. You only need three exercises and you have to kill every machine. You really have to make damage every set, every rep.

BETH: Do you ever train for strength? In other words, do you work in the  higher weight/lower rep range, as well?

REZA: The lowest I would go is six reps and that’s only for certain exercises like deadlift and squat, the ones that are really old school and make you grow. Leg extension, no, I would never go that heavy, it’s hard on your knees.

BETH: So the compound movements, the functional movements, you’ll go heavy, because you’re using your whole body to lift the weight. Do you do that right up until the show?

REZA: Yes, absolutely, because if you train hard like that, it keeps you hard. I mean, a week before the show, I don’t do that because you don’t want to damage any muscle tissue. You just go for a pump. But, right before that, I go heavy.

Rez Ramtin Kazemi Photography
Reza Poursaleh
Photo by Ramtin Kazemi

BETH: Your abs are exceptional. What kind of core training do you do and how often?

REZA: I don’t do any core training just because of my genetics. My core was always my main part. I never did anything for it. It was always just there. Doing things like deadlift, squat – the compound movements – always works your core. I did do a lot of core training when I was doing break dancing and stuff like that. But, if I did start training my core a lot, it would be out of proportion to everything else because my obliques are really big. I can’t train them anymore.

BETH: You are also a Personal Trainer. You must be seeing what I’m seeing in the gym. Do you have any advice for people who are training themselves?

REZA: I would definitely suggest that people push weight not with the ego, but with good knowledge. Form is key and working out that specific muscle is key. When you do a pulldown, don’t swing your back, focus on the lats, for example. So, focusing on the muscle, using good form, and not going so heavy that you have to use other muscles to move the weight. Keep it simple. Don’t workout with your ego. If you’re a bodybuilder, keep it simple. If you’re a powerlifter, that’s a different story.

BETH: I’m talking about “gym rats” who I see swinging their entire bodies just to do a biceps curl.

REZA: That’s nuts.

BETH: Bodybuilding is as much about eating properly as it is about training properly. Your meals leading up to the competition looked like gourmet food. Each meal was even arranged on the plate in a pleasing manner. This is contrary to the dry chicken breast and rice images a lot of us have about bodybuilder dieting. Who taught you how to cook?

REZA: When I lost my job at Popeyes, I got a job at a butcher shop called Dietrichs Meat Warehouse. I was a butcher. They really trained me in kitchen work, everything from washing dishes to working with spices.

BETH: You work at a supplement store. You train clients. You train yourself twice a day. When do you have time to do so much cooking?

REZA: I’m going to make my You Tube channel soon. There is a whole system I have. I can cook all of my gourmet food in 45 minutes in the morning. There’s a whole preparation I learned from the butcher shop. Every Sunday I get all my chickens. I prep them, I marinate them, I put them in the fridge. Then, each morning, when I get up, I put the chicken and the spices in to cook. When I come back from my cardio in the forest, all my food is cooked. My tupperware is washed the night before. So I just line up the tupperware and it doesn’t take much time. There’s a system to it. I could teach people how to do that system. Like I said, I’m making my You Tube channel and I will teach people how to do this.

BETH: I’d love to learn because I don’t like cooking and your food looks like you’ve been in the kitchen for hours. 

REZA: And the spices I use aren’t only for taste. I studied a lot about spices. I use saffron for mood, I use a lot of tumeric for health benefits, I use a lot of cinnamon to stabilize my blood sugar. At nighttime I use cinnamon so I don’t get cravings.

Reza Organic Beef Nov 10, 2012
Reza’s Cooking

BETH: You eat organic food which can be expensive. You believe buying good food is an investment, is that right?

REZA: That’s right. And there is also a system to shopping organic. I buy meat from the farmers. Some meat here, some meat there. I don’t go to Whole Foods and spend my money. It’s crazy expensive there, I could never afford it. You have to be smart about your food. I’m actually saving more than off-season when I’m eating outside all the time, going out partying, which I don’t do anymore. Never is it going to be like that anymore. I’m actually saving by eating this way. All it takes is a routine and a lifestyle. Most importantly, a lifestyle. And the people around you. You can save a lot of money eating this way.

BETH: Bodybuilding is about muscle and symmetry and conditioning, and the art of posing, but it is also about skin. What do you do to ensure that your skin is looking its best on stage.

REZA: Are you talking about skin quality or color?

BETH: Both.

REZA: My skin quality has never been better because of the water I drink and my water filter shower that I have. I don’t consume chlorine and it doesn’t get absorbed by my skin. Fluoride, heavy metals, all that stuff, gone. I don’t put anything special on my skin. Sometimes I put avocado oil and macadamia oil, all natural. But the main thing is water. I drink good quality water and I shower with good water because, in the morning, if you take a hot shower, your body actually absorbs two liters of water. Eighty percent of the population actually consumes more water by showering than drinking water daily. So the shower filter is huge for me. I got it from made by Fred Van Liew. His website is awesome. I get distilled water and I make it into structured water, meaning I put all the minerals in and make the water come alive again because water is conscious, as shown by the legendary water researcher, Dr. Masaru Emoto. So my biggest thing is structured water and a water filter, that’s all I do for my skin. I’ve never had a better quality skin.

BETH: What about tanning on the day of the competition?

REZA: I go tanning a week before to get a darker colour. I’m not a big fan of tanning, either, but the week before I go three times only. I do the spray too, but when the light hits you, your skin colour makes a difference. If you want to have the best colour, you go tanning first and get your actual skin dark and then put the tanning on top. You’re going to see a better result that way. I got my tanning done by Pam. She does all the tanning in the OPA and she uses organic tanning. She’s awesome. Her tanning is not bad for the skin. That’s why I went with her. She touched me up at night. She touched me up in the morning. And she touched me up after pre-judging. She’s awesome.

BETH: You appear to have a superb group of people supporting you: your two older sisters, your friends, your coaches, and your fellow CrossFit athletes. You have said,“We battle through training together, we make sacrifices together, we eat together, we grow together, we experience success together.” Could you do this alone?

REZA: No. No, I couldn’t do this alone. I didn’t concentrate on one person. I concentrated on a team. Because when everybody gets together there’s more energy. I see everything as energy. If there is more people with the same passion, with the same vibration, there’s more energy and that’s how you’re going to get the true power. It’s not about who you have, what coach you have, or what your coach achieved. The world runs on energy and the more positive energy, the more loving energy you have in your life, you’re going to have more power to push through. That’s just how the universe works.


BETH: I remember you posted a quote about energy by Einstein on Facebook.

REZA: Yes, that was me.

BETH: The last time we spoke, you said you thought you would do better with CrossFit, rather than bodybuilding. You wanted to strive to become “the fittest man on Earth” (which is the title given to the best CrossFitter in the world).  Is this still one of your goals or will you continue to pursue bodybuilding?

REZA: I loved CrossFit and I’m still going to do it. I have this thing every Sunday, I might go do one class as a cardiovascular workout when I’m on a high calorie diet, but the truth is I believe the whole message that I want to bring to people, with bodybuilding I can bring it a little bit better. I feel like my heart tells me to go toward bodybuilding, and my thought tells me to go there because I can bring out the message that’s in my heart better in the bodybuilding industry. It’s just where I belong, I think. And I haven’t been on the stage for three years, you gotta remember, and my mentality changed. And when I experienced this whole journey again it really changed me into a bigger person. So, you really can’t always see your future. Life is always giving you new experiences and you always get new ideas, so yes, bodybuilding, it’s where my passion is right now, it’s where I’m going to go.

Reza Nov 2012
Reza Poursaleh, Photo by Ramtin Kazemi

BETH: How far will you go, how long will you compete, how much will you invest?

REZA: I don’t know. Life always gives you new experiences. I don’t like to look at my life as planned out. I go through life as “every day is another day”, and it might not be the same day. I never know, but how I see it now, I’m going to go as far as I can and I’m going to bring something that nobody has ever seen before and I don’t know how long that will take but I want to achieve that to bring the message that I have out to people. That’s the only way, to be that different person, to make people wonder. It’s just the truth that people should wake up and realize that there’s so much bullshit out there about fitness. Somebody just needs to be straight up.

BETH: You came from Iran (your birthplace) to Canada when you were 12 years old. You have no parents living in Canada and have never had them here. What is it like living without parents since the age of 12?

REZA: In terms of having my food and living somewhere – and I even had a nanny and my older sister was looking after me – I didn’t have any struggle. My dad was a great support. But I still had that freedom because my parents weren’t there. So in high school I would skip school to go break dance and I would skip school to go do my bodybuilding. I would not pay attention to certain stuff that was more important in my life at that point because I didn’t have any parents watching me and I focused on what I really loved. It was beneficial to me, it was a good hobby, it wasn’t like playing video games or anything like that, it was just gaining a skill. So, at that point, it wasn’t good and I didn’t do very well in high school at all, but right now, all those things I achieved are coming together. It really makes sense how life guides me through, and everything’s just coming together and it’s actually benefiting me more than if I had actually gone to school.

BETH: You taught yourself. 

REZA: Everything I’ve learned, I taught myself. All my life. I don’t like school work. I hate people explaining shit to me. I never liked that. I always wanted to learn. I love what I do. My hobby was always a good hobby. I have such a passion for nutrition. After high school, I went to a private nutrition school for two years. I gained a lot of knowledge. It was awesome. It was such a good school. They served us organic food, the water was clean. Such a good mentality. We even had a course called “Mind Body Spirit”. Life put me toward there. Life is training me. And I know I have this message and I want to bring it out to people.

BETH: This bodybuilding quest that you have, do you think it’s related in any way to an emotional need to be loved?

REZA: No. I have a lot of love in my life. What I want to do, I want to give love to people. Because I do have a lot of love in my life.

BETH: And it makes you happy to share that? 

REZA: It makes me happy to share this love that I have with others.

BETH: You said you were “stepping on the stage fearless, egoless, and with lots of love.” What fears must you overcome as a bodybuilder?

REZA: Fear of not being in the present moment, meaning thinking about other things when you’re on stage, what the judges are thinking, what the audience is thinking, what am I doing. Having your mind in the present moment, there’s no fear in the now. So I like to stay in the now when I’m on stage. Fear is only in the past. You have to be very strong minded.

BETH: You don’t have anxiety about anything?

REZA: Nothing. And the key is to learn how to stay in the present moment with your mind. It’s amazing to have that feeling. That’s what really motivates me to go toward bodybuilding. Everything feels right. We’re meant to move, we’re meant to always achieve, we’re creators. So it just feels right. It’s how we’re designed.

BETH: You are now 22 years old. Your life revolves around the gym, around bodybuilding, around working out and eating properly. Do you have enough fun time, time to just relax and be a 22-year-old?

REZA: Fun time is Sundays and that is getting together with a team that came together. It’s me, my sister, one of the guys I train with, and my girlfriend, Jen. We always get together and we go for a workout and we come home and we eat together and in the morning I usually go into nature and do my walking. All the things that really raise your frequency, I do on Sundays. And that’s how I heal myself. Sometimes I even go to hot yoga. That’s a great way to calm your mind. I calm my mind, re-start my mind by being around friends, laughing. I don’t go out drinking. Why destroy your body? You’re not doing any good. Being in nature, raising your frequency as a human, getting together with friends and eating, working out together. Sunday’s just my favorite day because I’m with close people in my life that have the same energy as me, same thoughts, same goals. And we just spend that whole day together and I love it.

BETH: Many people in the bodybuilding business become disillusioned, jaded, fed up. How do you keep yourself from losing focus, getting disillusioned and turning your back on it all?

REZA: I guess through experiences. I really understand the science behind nutrition and I appreciate it, all the nutrients you get from the food, how you feel. I do everything right. When the trainer gives the girl a diet, for example, and says two cups of broccoli and a piece of meat, some people boil the broccoli until it’s mashed. There’s no more nutrients in that. The best way to cook the vegetable is to just steam it a little bit. So I keep all the nutrients. When I diet, I have such an easy time. My organization is good. I have an easy time dieting. I don’t have a hard time. At the end, when your body fat is low, you can’t really think and your energy is low, but that’s about it. So, getting ready for a show, for the most part, I don’t have a problem with it.  

BETH: Between now and the Toronto Pro SuperShow, what do you have to achieve in those six months?

REZA: From tomorrow even, I’m going to get my diet really cleaned out. I’m going to have the same diet as a contest diet, but the difference is I’m going to get a lot of calories from fat because it’s very easy to get clean calories from fat, like avacado and coconut oil. So that brings my calories a lot higher. But I’m going to keep it like a contest diet. But I will have a cheat meal after every leg workout. When it comes down to show time this time, since I diet for so long, I just cut my fat and bring my carbs just a little bit lower and I’ll get shredded with not even doing cardio. The whole key is to prepare myself from now so I can come in a chiseled condition at the Toronto SuperShow.

BETH: And to prevent yourself from feeling like you did this time during the pre-show, what will you do?

REZA: I’m going to have more solid food and I’m not going to spike my insulin from the night before, because it’s stupid. I’m going to keep the diet going exactly how it is until the show and keep myself full with more complex carbohydrates. I’m not going to change anything because I look good every morning when I wake up, why change it. Everybody changes it way to much. It was too extreme. I’m just going to keep it simple and keep more solid food this time. I need more solid food toward the show. And I’m not going to dehydrate myself to that point. I’m going to cut my water just the night before.

BETH: If you had one piece of advice to give to a young aspiring bodybuilder, what would it be?

REZA: Just keep it simple. You don’t have to get too technical. Eat real whole foods to see results. Real food is always better. Focus on nutrition. People focus too much on supplements. Focus on food. Real food. That’s my biggest advice. Real food gives you better results. And people say organic food is expensive. You just have to learn not to spend so much money on crap. Spend it on something that’s going to benefit you emotionally, physically, spiritually. People have to learn what life is all about. Seriously.

BETH: If you had to stop bodybuilding tomorrow – for whatever reason – what would you miss most about it?

REZA: Pain. I would miss the pain more than anything else. The pain that you have to put yourself through. And the pain that you put yourself through makes you grow. So I would miss the pain more than anything else. Because life is all about making those pains and sacrifices to be able to grow. So through my workout, if there’s more pain, there’s more gain. There’s a saying, “No pain, no gain.” And it’s very true. That is what I would miss the most.

BETH: What has bodybuilding taught you?

REZA: That there’s a bigger picture in life. I mean, I’m getting ready for a show and I’m eating six meals a day, but the whole routine that, OK, you go to the gym, you gotta do your cardio, you sweat so much, now you gotta do your laundry, and I wasn’t doing so much before. Now I gotta focus on laundry, I gotta focus on cooking my food, focus on being organized. And at the end of the day, I’m like, wow, I’m becoming a better person. There’s a bigger picture to bodybuilding. It really makes you a different person. It really teaches you different things.

BETH: Is there anything else you would like to say? 

REZA: I want to thank to my biggest supporter, my training partner who pushed me through every set and a life coach, Kerwyn Chandroo. I want to thank my coach Dorian Hamilton. Huge thanks to my amazing sister, Mona Poursaleh, who pushed me through my leg days. She helped me bring my leg development to another level. I want to thank my girlfriend, Jennifer Watt, who helped me stretch all the time which is so important, and for getting me into hot yoga which is in my opinion one of the greatest tools that people can use in bodybuilding to bring their mind into more of a calm place and into the present moment. Stretching all the muscle fibers in my body was so beneficial to make my body grow and recover more. It also got rid of a lot of lactic acid buildup and water retention in my body. And I want to thank my sister, Michka Poursaleh, and my best friends John Talaie, Nikola Bajovic, Milad Pio, and Tyler North for supporting me at the show. Huge thank you to Pamela Bortmes for helping me so much with my tanning on the day of the show. Finally, I want to sincerely thank my sponsor, GP8 Sportwater, for their support. All-natural, additive-free water makes a huge difference in my health and performance.

BETH: And thank you, Reza, for your generosity today. It’s been fascinating speaking with you.