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Jaime Filer, BA Hon. Kin

Adversity & Adversaries Are No Match for This Pro. MUSCLE INSIDER'S Jason Poston Exclusive Interview.

The name Jason comes from the Greek word Iason, meaning “healer.” In Greek mythology, Jason the Argonaut was a Thessalian hero who led his shipmates on a quest for the Golden Fleece, the symbol of authority and kingship. After acquiring it, Jason took his rightful place on the throne of an ancient city in Greece. Our story isn’t about Jason the Argonaut; it’s about Jason Poston, the IFBB pro. Though there are thousands of centuries and cultural differences between them, both battled adversity. Both were pioneers. And neither gave up. Now, I’m not implying an IFBB pro has the same status as a Greek hero, but their physicality certainly bears some similarities, and their “triumph over tragedy” stories also bear resemblances. Maybe by the end of this interview, you’ll see everything he’s overcome, and how his never-say-die attitude could in fact, make him a mythological hero, too.

MUSCLE INSIDER: Talk to us a little bit about your background getting into training, competing and the fitness industry in general. You started getting serious about sports in high school, right?

Jason Poston: I trained to be the best athlete in any sport. I studied and researched sport-specific training, powerlifting, Olympic lifting, and cross-training (now CrossFit). I read a lot of books because I took it seriously. I read the Encyclopedia of Bodybuilding, Chris Aceto and Charles Poliquin’s books, and got certified in everything. I wanted to be a jack of all trades. I found through fitness, anyone can defy genetics; the small guy can grow and end up beating people at competition. I grew up small and thin, and although I was athletic, I wasn’t gifted at all. I had different ailments that held me back; I didn’t know at the time, but in high school, I was slowly going blind in one eye, and it messed up my depth perception. Keratoconus is a disease where tissue forms layers over the eye and creates a football shape over the pupils. It’s essentially like looking out of plastic or something opaque. It happened gradually, but by the time I got to senior year, I couldn’t run a slant route or short route and catch a football, I couldn’t hit a three-pointer facing the basket because my head was facing sideways. We caught it eventually, but high school was done, and then I never really got a chance to excel at the two sports I was good at—wrestling and hockey—because I didn’t pursue them. So what I did to fill that void was start to lift at 19. As I became more of a fitness guru in the gym, I started to get bigger.

MI: How you eventually end up choosing men’s physique as “your” category?

JP: Competition is very important to me; it’s the heart and soul of who I am. I love competing in all sorts of things. I always wanted to challenge myself physically to see if I could beat a friend or opponent. It was just something instilled in me. When competitions came around [i.e., when they became popular with the mainstream], there wasn’t anything for a guy with my build, the guy with the fitness model look. After my diabetes diagnosis, once I decided to get back on the training and diet, it all just came together. It was easier for me to grow at that point too, because I wasn’t running up and down a basketball court all the time anymore. I wasn’t playing sports six days a week. I was doing more of the bodybuilding strength training, and the cardio was only about molding the body, not performance. So I got back the body of the athlete I had before, but I was bigger and had the shape they were looking for.

MI: How do you feel about the evolution of the category, and the direction in which it’s going, in terms of bringing in classic physique, changing the posing suits, and having a weight limit?

JP: The evolution is absolutely great for the world, not just bodybuilding. Now you’ve got more people concerned with their physiques, more people concerned with their health and their diet. You have a new genre in fitness. It’s like how every new genre of music is going to bring in a different crowd of people to a concert; this is going to bring a whole different crowd of people to the fitness expos, to the gyms, to supplements, to magazines, etc. These are people who never used to care, and now you’re starting to lift up these average joes who are taking it to a whole other level. Putting 100 percent into any goal or passion, you’re going to benefit from it.

MI: Who do you look up to? Who motivates the guy who motivates everyone else?

JP: Fitness isn’t my whole life. Fitness is just a spoke on the wheel of life. I look up to different people outside of the fitness industry, like T.D. Jakes and Joyce Meyer. Their passion for spreading positivity and bringing people closer to God is motivating to me. I’m inspired by little kids who are working hard towards their goals, people who come up to me who are different than others because they work harder, and aren’t in it for themselves. They share the same mentality as I do that none of us are as strong as all of us. There are a lot of people who get caught up in doing things for our own betterment, and we forget that we share this world with everyone.

MI: Are the men’s physique athletes close? Do you guys keep to yourself for the most part, or is it like a frat house backstage?

JP: I tend to have my group of people that I know really well. I do want to know everyone, so I try to lighten up backstage and get everyone talking. At the Arnold, I went and did a Snap of every single person and what they were going to eat right after they got offstage. I just wanted to get different perspectives from all these people from all around the world. It’s much more friendly than bodybuilding, I feel. The physique division has lightened up the bodybuilders. They’ve seen how loose we are, they’ve seen how much fun we’ve had. They see that they can’t walk around like grumps anymore with their head down. We all walk around at 3 percent, we’re all dieting, but it’s not an excuse to be negative.

MI: How do you feel social media has changed the game for athletes like yourself? How do you stay on top of your own accounts and be a full-time trainer and IFBB pro?

JP: With social media, you can get a good idea of how your favourite people truly are. If someone intrigues you in the fitness world, you can see what they’re doing in their daily life, and I think the athletes who are genuine will boost their followings as a result. It’s your chance to put your life out there and say, “This is what I’m all about. This is what I love. This is who I share a life with.” Some people gear it towards business, and that’s good for them, but you also have to learn how to balance using social media. I have to back off sometimes; I turn my phone off at certain hours of the day, and my girlfriend definitely stays on top of me with that. You can get pulled in a million different directions at all times of the day, if you let it. You have to have your office hours, your social media hours, and your life on top of that. You need to know tips and tricks to posting pictures, captions, and making sure you’re putting out stuff that people want to see.

MI: Does the constant travel, attention, and being surrounded by beautiful people ever put a strain on your relationship?

JP: No. I think it can put a strain on a lot of relationships, but what it’s going to do is help you find out really quickly whether or not you’re going to work with someone. We’ve been through the beginning when I’ve had just very basic sponsors, until now, when I’m traveling all around the world and getting e-mails constantly from different continents. It keeps building, but the fact is, if someone loves you, they’re going to support you no matter what. They want you to be happy. It really isn’t hard for us because we’ve both determined that this is what we want to do, so I’m not going to let it get in the way of our relationship, and she’s not going to let her frustrations get in the way of our relationship either. You want to have the perfect relationship, but the truth is, there isn’t one. You have to mold and adjust; so if I have to leave for a week, then I’m going to leave for a week.

MI: What factors go into deciding which sponsorship opportunities you’ll take versus which ones you pass up? How does a guy at your level decide what to lend his name to?

JP: Right now, it’s really about what can fit in my schedule. Sometimes they ask for too much time, and I don’t have a ton of it anymore. So if a company wants me to endorse them, then a huge percentage of my revenue is going to have to be subsidized. It also has to be a product that I personally like, that I wear, or that I take. The products have to work for a person with diabetes. If I can’t take it, then I won’t say that I take it. My heart has to be into the product.

MI: What’s next for you in terms of life and competing?

JP: I’m building other avenues and revenues. I’m planning my apparel line. It’s not happening just yet, but it’s definitely in the pipeline. I’ve registered the name, and we’ll roll that out soon. We’re rebuilding the website, and I’m also in talks to open a gym. It’s been a long time coming, and I wanted to do it when the timing was right. Building my own gym and having a place for people to come to for results. I’d hire the best trainers and get people the best results—just give them a nice, positive environment to come to every day. Lastly, I’d like to continue to boost my international travel schedule this year.

I’m still undecided about whether I’ll do physique or classic physique this year. I might jump into a classic show before or after the Olympia, or even petition for an invite so I can do classic physique at the Olympia. We’ll see. I’m qualified for the O in men’s physique, so the IFBB would have to approve me to do classic. I’m training legs hard, though, and praying about it, and really talking to a lot of mentors about whether I’d even fit in that category. It just comes down to the separation in my legs, based on the fact that I’ve been putting insulin in my legs (because they’ve been covered by board shorts) since I was diagnosed. Most diabetics put insulin in their abs, but obviously I can’t do that. I’ve started to inject at the top of my glutes now just in case, so you may just see me with a Kim Kardashian butt by the time I get to the Olympia!

MI: You’ve struggled with diabetes since you were in your late 20s. How have you had to adjust your life and your competition plans as a result?

JP: I got diagnosed with diabetes at 27; I lost a lot of weight, and lost the energy and motivation to train. After about nine to ten months of being sick, though, I decided to come back. I realized I just needed to take the medication and figure out how to balance insulin with diet. I was already driven, and competing just gave me another avenue to show people that I could overcome any obstacle. I gave up alcohol, started eating immaculately, and just committed to the process. I learned how to scale my insulin use with carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. At first, they just teach you carbs, but I quickly found out that protein and fats also impact insulin levels. Water intake is also essential for me to keep the insulin flowing in my body. I can’t be dehydrated onstage like other competitors. For example at the Arnold, the insulin that I used the morning of prejudging pulled a lot of water out of the muscle tissue, so it almost furthered the dehydration, but at that point it wasn’t even a cramp, it was muscle spasms. Insulin has a neural effect where it can cause muscles to spasm, and so it was just really bad luck for that to happen to me at the Arnold right before I went onstage.

MI: What kind of legacy would you like to leave on the sport, and what kind of message do you want to send to people?

JP: The number one goal is for people to understand that we can all defy genetics, and we can all overcome obstacles. There’s nothing that’s insur-mountable. But also, when you are at the top and you’re being looked up to, you need to remember to give back. You have to spread that passion and use your platform to lift people up from all different obstacles of life. At the same time, you have to keep striving to be one of the best physiques of all time. There are so many directions that you can take yourself in the fitness industry, and I want people to enjoy all of them.